How I Find Social Fulfillment While Maintaining My Introvert Lifestyle & Staying On Budget
I’ve been living alone for nearly ten years. To some, that sounds like a sad existence. But to me, it’s been as fun as the montage scenes from every Home Alone movie (i.e., before Kevin realizes his family legitimately abandoned him and before the audience starts to notice that there’s an unaccompanied minor wandering around various cities). Living alone means I get to make my own decisions about decorations, take up as much space in the fridge as I so please, and have unlimited, shameless naked time whenever I want, in whatever part of my house I want to be in. But it also means that I am a naturally anti-social person.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy being with my friends. I’m just so used to being on my own and entertaining myself. When it comes down to what I really want after a long day at work, I’m not very interested in evening social activities that occur too far from my couch, especially when I have to show up looking like I’ve put in any effort whatsoever. It’s not that I’m a lazy person. I’m just a creature of very comfy habit. I tend to get home from work around 5:30 PM, then I change into workout clothes or pajamas. The workout clothes can serve two different purposes depending on the day: either to do an actual workout or, more likely, to run some quick errands or go on an evening walk to listen to some podcasts. My pajamas are basically my house uniform, allowing me to feel comfortable and free while I clean, write, read, or watch TV. Occasionally, I’ll throw in an evening craft, but I am actually quite content to spend my evenings after my full-time job either doing more work or completely vegging out.
I’m entirely self-aware when it comes to my homebody tendencies. I love being at home. I love being in casual clothing. I love hanging out and doing nothing. And I love my friends. With all of these conditions, there’s only one way to avoid becoming a hermit: house parties. But don’t worry, introverts, my parties are comparatively quiet and approachable even for the shyest of shy people. As I grow more inclined to spend time at home and less inclined to go anywhere with loud music, house parties have been the best way to ensure I get socialized at least a few times a year.
In the last place I lived, I was known for three types of parties: Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and at least one Help Me Finish The Leftover Booze party. I started these traditions after realizing that most of my friends had nowhere to go on these not-super-family-oriented holidays. We needed a place to celebrate and be together, so I took on the task of hosting a costumes-mandatory Halloween party and a glittery, boozy New Year’s Eve party. Each year, I spent a lot of time to create a menu of different homemade treats and put together fun decorations (I reused the same materials every year for five years in a row and no one noticed/cared). I usually had a close friend come over a little early to help add the finishing touches to my costume or apartment, allowing us to have some quality time together. The parties were always a blast, and I was happy to have my friends filling my home with laughter and debauchery.
But I recently had to make a big, grown-up move to a new state. So over the last holiday season, I didn’t get to host anyone for Halloween or New Year’s Eve, and I felt a void because of it. It’s difficult to be an introvert in a new place, particularly one who lives alone and loves being at home. Since I don’t get to lean on my annual parties, I’ve had to get really creative with my approach to making connections and being a social person.
My first couple of attempts at the scary world of socializing came in the form of game nights. I found that a lot of my new friends loved board games, so I picked a day and told everyone to show up in “pajama-casual.” Both nights were successful! We drank cheap wine, ate community snacks that everyone was kind enough to bring, and laughed a lot. Some of my new friends even poked fun at my taste in music, which made me feel loved. That’s what all my friends back home did when they first arrived at one of my parties. Nothing like teasing the hostess to really break the ice at a gathering, am I right?
Aside from bringing everyone together for a night in, I’ve also had some social success through volunteering at community events. I’ve found that it’s a fantastic, free way to meet like-minded people. Some of my favorite places that I’ve volunteered at in the past include beer festivals, food festivals, art installations, and small museums. I feel significantly less awkward in a social situation that naturally provides me with a place and a purpose.
Otherwise, I’m going to relish in the time I have to myself. This time of my life is completely wonderful and probably unique. Who knows what the future holds for all my free time? I may as well take full advantage of my daily Pajama Party For One. I know I’ll still find inventive ways to spend time with new friends and explore new parts of my city while I remain entirely selfish with my evenings and live out my Home Alone dreams for as long as I can.
What are your tips for inexpensive and introvert-friendly ways to get comfortable in a new city, try new things, and meet new people?
Jane B. Diener is a freelance writer, foodie, and budget enthusiast based in Providence, Rhode Island. She has a big girl job working in higher education, molding young minds. You can find Jane on Twitter, Instagram, and her food blog.
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