iTHINK’s Summer Introvert Survival Guide

From doing the summer weekly grocery shop at 5:30am to routinely killing off already dead distant relatives, there are no limits to the length’s introverts will go to avoid interacting with people.

“I volunteered for a position in another country where I don’t speak the language so I could avoid conversations with my co-workers.”

But what if you can’t say that your great aunt Meredith has come down with her fourth bout of pneumonia in three years… because you’re going on a cruise with her next week?

The summer months are coming around thick and fast and, with them, so do the family holidays, get-togethers, and neighbourhood barbeques. While our extroverted friends may dance with joy at the mere suggestion of an organised summer event, we’re more inclined to shudder and turn to online “how do I fake an illness at short notice to get out of a family function” forums.

Don’t worry though, iTHINK has got you covered with a few handy tips and tricks to get out of small talk and back into blissful solitude.

*Note: some stories have been taken from AskReddit forums.*

The Cruise

Summer

“As the eldest, I was put in charge of babysitting my young cousin on a cruise one year. I wouldn’t have minded, but she just wouldn’t stop talking. So, I challenged her to a game of hide and seek. She spent over an hour looking for me until my aunt persuaded her to give up. I had locked myself in one of the bathrooms with my Kindle.”

Sea days are your new best friend. Make sure that you spend each one doing what you want to. It’s important to not spend these days hauled up in your cabin, but instead take the time to explore the ship a little more to find a secluded nook you can call your own over the next few weeks.

Try and do something small with your family at least once a day, maybe it’s sitting down to have dinner with them or spending a few hours in the pool together. Let them know that you want to spend some time relaxing alone.

This will ensure that you are energised when the boat spends a day at the docks, and you can explore and make memories with your loved ones without feeling burned out.

The Barbeque

Summer

“Are you in college? University? What subject do you study? What do you want to do when you graduate? Where do you work? Are you dating anyone? Are you married? If so, when will you have kids? You’re not getting any younger.

Do you want kids? I mean, of course you want kids. What woman doesn’t want kids! Am I right, Sandra?!”

One excellent tip to avoid socialising with your mum’s yoga class friends is to offer to be the bartender. Offering to get drinks or refill snacks and taking trips to the store when the ice inevitably runs out, are great ways to look like you’re interacting with guests.

In reality, it allows you to get out of the house for a quick drive or get away from the main party for a couple of minutes by pouring drinks in the kitchen.

No one will really notice that you’ve not spoken much because you’ll appear as though you’ve been running around looking after everyone all day!

Score brownie points with the hosts (probably your parents) AND avoid making small talk with your neighbour’s accountant? Introvert – 2, barbeque – 0.

The Family Reunion

Summer

“What’s the worst thing about family get-togethers?”

“… Family.”

Having to deal with relatives who haven’t seen you since you were pooing in your nappies is up there with one of the great pains in life. Unfortunately, many families, especially big ones, LOVE organising reunion parties.

Every year or so, your parents, or whomever it may be, will inevitably find some excuse to drag the whole clan together for a “much needed” catch up. You’ll find yourself surrounded with unfamiliar faces who will then spend hours insisting that they know you… because you were the flower girl at their wedding when you were two.

As an introvert, it’s important that you find ways to explain that you need time alone, ideally without offending anyone. One way involves minimal explanation! Try and find a relative in the room who looks isolated, uninterested or as uncomfortable as you.

Nine times out of ten they’re probably an introvert too. Here’s your ally. Spend the reunion time together or come up with lucrative ways to leave for a quick five minutes.

The Staycation

“Growing up in GA during the hot and humid summers that seem to last most of the year ruined summer for me… Of course, everyone always wants to be outside and doing activities together, which meant lots of people and noise and socialising, which I despise. I would much rather stay inside and read a book, by myself without anyone trying to talk to me or interrupting my reading.”

During the summer months, everyone wants to get outside and make the most of the nice weather. In doing so, they also have the tendency to guilt-trip just about everyone who would prefer to spend the day inside and alone.

It’s okay to spend some days relaxing and recharging by yourself, whether you spend them inside or out. However, not everybody realises this. When your family or friends want to spend time in a park, playing cricket or doing any other physical activity, and you’re just not up for it: Go! (I know, stay with me.)

Offer to look after the food and everyone’s belongings while they go off and play. Just like at the barbeque, you’re doing everyone a favour (aka, their stuff doesn’t get stolen) so they can’t be mad at you for not directly involving yourself in the group activity.

They get to have their fun, and you get to read your book in peace.

The Road Trip

Summer

“For me, it’s just all the forced togetherness. I’m an introvert and suffer from anxiety. I love you all, but I can’t be around you for this long, you know?”

Road trips are an introvert’s worst nightmare summer or not; hours and hours stuck in a confined space with a group of people, no thank you! Often, it’s not just the constant car companionship that’s the problem, but the cost cutting when you reach a hotel.

Whoever decided that the universal rule of motels is to jam as many people as possible into one room to save getting another is no friend of mine.

One of the necessities of vacationing as an introvert is that you find your own space to recharge. Requesting this sometimes gets lost in translation, especially if one member of the group pipes in with “but we hardly ever see you!”.

Yes, for good reason. Now is the time to get tough. Put your foot down. Ask for an extra private room, whether you do this when you all book in or find away to sneak to the front desk and put your request in.

Best case scenario is that you’ve now got your own room in which to unwind and relax in – even if it may have cost upwards of £40.

The Beach Holiday

“A few years ago, the usual friendship group I hang out with decided it was a good idea to go on vacation for ten days and rent out a big villa for all of us together. In a nutshell, when we arrived, it was ten days of limitless interaction and being out from morning till dawn, with the night as your only moment of peace. I did enjoy it, the first few days, but holy hell have I learn from this moment. Never again.”

If I had a penny for every time my family had an argument on holiday, I’d be able to afford my own home. Why is it always about chicken nuggets? Someone always wants chicken nuggets; somebody else always wants to “try something new for a change”.

Honestly, dragging 11 family members to the Mediterranean for ten days is up there with one of life’s biggest challenges. Forget Everest. Try navigating through Manchester Airport with six under 16-year-olds at four in the morning.

iTHINK’s top tip here comes courtesy of many, many, frustrated Reddit users: simply take an extra day or two off after your family holiday to recover. Feign illness, book it off with your boss, or simply hide under your duvet until the phone stops ringing.

Remember that the trip is worth it to spend time with family or friends, but also remember that your mental health is important and, as an introvert, you do need time to recover alone.

While that tip is great for after the holiday, often our patience is stretched during those dreaded two weeks. There is always this pressure to constantly be doing things together, whether it’s all going down to the beach at the same time, having breakfast at the same time, a group trip to a water park, or all trying to do one “culture day” together…

It can get tiresome. Then, there’s the added risk of personality clashes when you invite certain friends or family members along, who don’t always get along with everyone.

Unfortunately, this may result in arguments, the solution to which is often to go along with the loudest voice as this is the easiest (and quietest) way of appeasement. Introverts, at this time, can get drowned out.

So, our tip here is to get into the habit of squeezing in regular, short, recharge times to balance out the high energy-using environments.

In extreme cases, these may be trips to the restroom when you notice a discussion getting a little more heated than you’d like. Step outside for some fresh air, stretch your legs, go grab a drink – you can even get up slightly earlier than everyone else and enjoy the peacefulness of the morning, or stay up late to read or take a bath.

If you’re on the beach, go off and have a walk. Discover your surroundings (that does include the local coffee shop). No one is going to criticise you for “exploring” the summer.

Lastly, if you have the money to do this, try shortening your stay. Think of an excuse like your work needs you in that day, or you had this “thing” booked that you can’t get out of, blah blah blah.

The group will go away for two weeks; you’ll go away for one… And then spend the next week at home alone, curled up by the window with a good book in hand. Ah, what a great holiday it turned out to be.

So, there you have it. Your ultimate summer survival guide, courtesy of iTHINK.

It didn’t take long for us to come up with our worst summer traditions from years gone by. A few shudders were had. A few eyes were rolled. But, since we’ve been through it all and come out the other side, we know that none of these things are actually that bad – though, they do feel draining and infuriating at the time.

We hope that, armed with these tips and tricks, you’ll be spending your summer doing the things you love, with the people you love.

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