So, there’s a big party coming up, and you’ve done it again: you’ve spiraled. Maybe it’s a new, cute spiral just budding its first spring bloom, or perhaps it’s the same spiral you’ve been nursing for months. No matter how you want to spin it, you’re not doing so hot. And now you’ve got to put yourself in the middle of a crowded space and actually engage socially. I’m sorry, what?
If you’re anything like me, you need a sturdy emotional wall raised before you even attempt to meet a group of friends at the bar. Well, you’re in luck! I took a deep dive into my best tricks, and I can guarantee you that by the end of this article, you will feel empowered to face that crowd of people. Just follow these easy steps!
1. FEIGN EXASPERATION
Feigning exasperation is a fantastic way to make it sound like you’re deep in the grind, even when you spend your weekends sleeping until 1 PM and then digging into raw cookie dough until 2:30. The key to feigning exasperation is to not overdo it, lest you provoke questions from whoever you’re speaking with. Keep it light, keep it vague, and keep that wall up.
Someone asks you about your career? Give them a big sigh, throw your hands up and say, “Things have been crazy! I don’t know how I’ve been managing!” They don’t need to know the “thing” that’s been “crazy” is YOU.
This also works if you’re not dating anyone, but people won’t leave you alone about it. “So, you’re not seeing anyone?” Shake your hand dismissively and say, “Oh, I’ve about had it!” while giving a playful, conversation-ending laugh. No one needs to know you’ve about had it with people asking you this fucking question.
2. READ ONE NEWS HEADLINE
You don’t even need to read the article. No one does. All you need to do is mention one popular headline from that day or the day before and suddenly you’re a well read woman who is up to date on everything. And here’s the best part – if someone asks you your opinion of the article, see step one and just feign exasperation! “Don’t even get me started! I could talk about this all day.” And then laugh like an asshole and sip your drink. Try not to chug it. You’re in public, for God’s sake.
If you read two news headlines, get ready to look like you’ve really got your shit together. Especially if you can somehow tie those two headlines together into one cohesive thought: “The president doesn’t control gas prices, but with his approval rating dropping to a new low, it sounds like most people just don’t understand that.” Do you understand that? Does it even matter?
3. FEIGN EMPATHY
You know that you do not understand the stress of a new baby, or home ownership, or grad school, but that doesn’t mean the person you’re talking to knows that. Try empathizing when they mention something grossly impressive: “So you waived the inspection and now you find you have to gut the heating system? Mmm, I hear ya.” If they ask you about your home improvement projects, you know what to do: That’s right, go right back to Step One and repeat!
4. KEEP IT (MOSTLY) ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE
Look, as long as you keep the conversation focused on other people (which is very easy to do because we are all ego maniacs who love to talk about ourselves), you’re going to avoid looking like a total dud. However, you do need to interject something, otherwise people are going to catch on. I mean, probably not, but you’ll have anxiety over it anyway. So, try and tell the person you’re talking to something about yourself, even one tiny thing. I like to go with: “I have a beautiful cat.” Then, I whip out my phone and show them pictures. Boom. Just like that, I’m a normal person with the wherewithal to spoil a cat.
5. BRING IT ALL TOGETHER
If you put all of these steps together, you might just come off as a well-rounded person. Interested in other people, not dominating the conversation, humble (vague), empathetic, and well-read. Look at you go! You must be so successful! Who cares if you had to put on extra makeup because you were crying before you got to the party? You did it! You look so put together.