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The IntrovertedKnitter’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays Day One

December 3, 2012

—For the Month of December (or as long as I can manage) I am hoping to share with you some of my tips, tricks and advice for surviving the holidays, as an introvert.——-

I am an introvert (I know a shocker) as such I often struggle with how to handle this time of year. There is a certain level of sociability that is expected around the holidays and it can often leave many (introverted or not) feeling like they are few cookies short of a full batch. I think this time of the year can be especially hard on introverts. On average the amount of time spent with crowds and attending parties or other social gatherings goes up significantly during this time of year (don’t believe me, just head to your local shopping center on a weekend during December.) The social obligations also become more weighted, (in terms of potential guilt applied to a person). Now I am still relatively new to the whole embracing your inner introvert game, but I am hoping to share with all you introverts (and those who love them) some tips, tricks and advice on surviving the holidays.

A little bit of back story to start (if you just want to just skip ahead, feel free.) Growing up holidays were very family centered. Now when I say family I don’t just mean immediate family (siblings, parents) kind of thing, but rather in this instance I am applying the term to include cousins, aunts, uncles, close friends and significant others (spouse or otherwise.) I also happen to be the child to parents who come from big families (my dad’s side has 5 kids, my mom’s 6) this also included spouses and cousins. When I was really little my dad’s side would gather at my great grandmother’s home on Christmas Eve (which would be his cousins, their kids, and sometimes their kids as well as the few remaining aunts and uncles) Along with that my family also includes a step parent and three-step siblings, plus that whole side of it (grandparents, children, grand kids.) Now I also have my siblings family’s as well as my in-laws. Suffice it to say a crap ton of people. Even back when I was pretty young (we’re talking maybe 5-6 range) I felt not only overwhelmed (who wouldn’t) but also out-of-place. Growing up, the holiday events would find me irritable (after a few hours of constant interaction/small talk) and mentally as well as physically exhausted. All this is to say, I know how busy it can get around the holidays, and I have started using some techniques and tricks to survive the holidays with my sanity relatively left.

Without further ado some of my tips tricks and advice to surviving the holidays as an introvert. (You may have heard of most of this before, but I do believe it bares repeating)

Tip: First and foremost understand your limits.

Whether this is in terms of time (overall and in specific instances) overwhelming yourself because you decided to try to knit 30 people something unique in the last fifteen days before Christmas is not going to do anyone any good. As a knitter I understand the inclination to surround the ones you love (and or feel obligated to) in knitting goodness, but remember no matter how much you may want to complete them all it isn’t worth it to develop carpal tunnel syndrome and a twitch in your right eye over it. Or feeling obligated to attend fifteen Christmas parties in two weekends. Trust me it won’t end well. This one I find most important, because for so long I tried to do it all, go to all the parties, hang out with all the friends, spend time with all the families and by the time Christmas day would roll around I would be cranky, overstimulated and out for blood (okay not really on the last part, but let’s just say a do not disturb sign for my entire person would have been awesome.) I now realize that there are things I won’t have time for; or there might be events I am (or feel) obligated to go to, and I set a limit of a few hours of mingling/attendance before calling it quits.

Advice: It is okay to say “no”

I know for me, this time of year I often feel as though some crucial aspect of the “perfect” holidays depends on my action. Whether that is baking 20 batches of Christmas cookies in two days, or it’s going shopping Christmas Eve for that ever illusive gift. If someone asks for my “help” I struggle to refuse. Along this line, with parties or events. I often feel as though I will let everyone down if I don’t attend all three parties for the same group of people (exaggeration, but not by much.) What usually ends up happening is I overbook myself and end up feeling overwhelmed or bitter and resentful to everyone because I never seem to have a moment to/for myself. It has taken a lot of time (and I still struggle) but it is important to learn and understand that it is okay to say no. While it’s true saying no does run the risk of pissing someone off, or at the very least having to endure their pouting session/ passive aggressiveness in the end it will be better for everyone.

Trick: Have an alternative (or at least an excuse) 

In the event that you struggle with the first two listed above one fail safe (ish) is to have an alternative option (or excuse, real or imaginary) at your disposal. When the gimmepigs come a knockin’ (and they will) having a ready-made line available can do a lot to stop the feeling of pressure that often develops. An example: A close family member tries to guilt you into attending a dinner with your creepy uncle, your annoying cousins and that one kid you knew from your diaper days. They lay on the guilt that they never get to see you and that if you don’t attend the dinner they will be disappointed and forced to resign as the lead french bread artist at the local bakery. You feeling the waves of guilt and pressure starting to take hold, feel the word vomit coming up that forces you to say yes. With an alternative plan or excuse you can (more) easily answer, “Oh, how terrible, but I seem to be overbooked. I do hope you understand I made this obligation ages ago and I just can’t break it.” (Fill in the blanks of course)

Alright those are just a few of the many (some?) tips, tricks and advice I have. Tune in next time when I will share some more. In the mean time: what are your tips, tricks or advice for surviving the holidays? Anything of them you have tried and failed with? Share in the comments below.

From → Musings, Writing

  1. Wow and I thought it was just me. I’ve also found that I’ll seek out one person at major family gatherings and just hang with them. That helps me temper the anxiety about constant social interaction. Of course later on I feel guilty because I didn’t spend time with everyone …

  2. Can’t wait to read the rest of this series. I would love to make it through the holidays not exhausted and just waiting for it to be over.

  3. I posted the same theme today !

  4. shellssells permalink

    I won’t even venture out to the shops this time of year. I hate shopping on a good day and between the traffic and the crowds, I just can’t handle it. I walk around in a stupor. Internet shopping for the win. One thing that always helps me is “no means no” and “No is a complete sentence.” I like understanding that I don’t need to have an excuse, I can just take time for myself.

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