For people with social anxiety, going to a party can be pretty overwhelming, but for those who have to go alone — it can be downright terrifying.
Your first instinct might be to skip it, but it's perfectly OK if you aren't quite ready to step outside of your comfort zone. But for those who are (or those who just couldn't bring themselves to RSVP 'No'), there are ways to make yourself a little more comfortable when going to a party solo, and they don't involve bribing a friend to come along.
"Going to parties can be very challenging for individuals experiencing social anxiety," Sandy Kiaizadeh, life coach and clinical director of Toronto Mindful Solutions Clinic, tells HuffPost Canada. "Typically, the underlying issue is one of shyness, and/or a fear of being observed and/or judged by others and/or having to perform in front of others."
For people with social anxiety, a judgmental inner voice might try to persuade them to stay at home to avoid embarrassment. Quieting that inner voice isn't easy, so Kiaizadeh suggests using calming mindfulness strategies such as meditation and deep breathing.
"Much like we wouldn't expect to be able to run a full marathon without first learning to jog for one minute at a time, we can't expect a person with social anxiety to be able to 'suck it up' and attend a party alone," she says.
"A more reasonable goal-setting plan may start with developing confidence in other, less odious, social interactions, like, for instance, beginning a casual conversation with an acquaintance... and maybe by Week 3, the goal may be working up the confidence to casually talk to a stranger while in line at the grocery store. Week 6 might be something more challenging, for example, going to a party with a friend, and engaging in small talk with a group of people with the assist of said friend, and so on and so forth until we reach the ultimate goal of being able to attend a party solo without debilitating anxiety."
Don't have six weeks before the party? Try these tips from Redditors and forum users on SocialAnxietySupport.com who've managed to curb their social anxiety and attend more parties alone.
Think About Why You Want To Go
"If you are going just to meet people, you are putting control in other people's hands. You have to want to have a good time. If you get nervous about the idea, then you aren't in the right mindset to go, because you're doing something you don't want to do. You have to take out the variables that make you afraid." Via Anon7.
"If you get there early (i.e. arrive right on time, your host might not appreciate [it] if you get there earlier than the start time), there will be fewer people at the event. So, if you're like me, you'll have an easier time getting to know people when it's a smaller and more manageable group. Once you get there, take the extra time to get to know the hosts and the few people who might have also shown up right on time. Once the party gets into full swing, you'll be comfortable with those people, and you'll feel more confident talking with the guests who arrive later." Via pizzaguy.
"Man the grill, stand behind the bar, pass some hors d'oeuvres. It's a quick way to become familiar with people and makes you feel less awkward." Via Lordica.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
"I walked around with my head high. I never looked at my phone when I felt uncomfortable. I always listened attentively even though I may not be interested and over time, people picked up on that. I feel like, after a while of faking confidence, you start to become confident. I don't know if this helps, but in my situation, I focused on my posture and how I presented myself and it really helped." Via Fender2322.
Prepare Talking Points
"The trick is to remember your talking points when you are flustered. In a situation like this, I would write down some things I saw on Reddit before I went to the party." Via MrRuby.
But Let Them Do The Talking
"I spend time getting to know one or two people really well, asking a lot of questions about what they like and being genuinely and sincerely interested in learning more about their lives, experiences and opinions." Via tengolacamisanegra.