Family event survival guide


Bismah Syed

I learned how to survive, and I want to help you do the same.

Sophie Chappell, features writer

While family events may be enjoyable for those who consider themselves to be extroverts, that’s not the case for everyone. Personally, I’ve spent the majority of my time at my relative’s houses hiding in the bathroom or playing on my phone, hoping that no one asks how “I’m really doing” or if I’m stressed about finals. I learned how to survive, and I want to help you do the same. Family events can be an endless maze of anxiety for people who identify as introverts and this survival guide will take you through the strategies myself and other introverted people use at family events.   

1: Food

Once the guests have arrived, your increasing anxiety brings one thing to mind: eating. After you’ve suffered through small talk about school and the significant other you don’t have, it’s time to chow down on comfort food. When you get to the table, one thing is certain; you’re going to have to talk to people. Aunts and uncles crowd around the dish you’ve been craving, and the only way to get there is engaging in conversation. While the thought of this may make you feel sick to your stomach, you know the food is worth it. Before heading over, take a few deep breaths. The next thing to do is discretely move around your relatives, while keeping your eyes glued to the food. If they ask you anything, answer to the best of your ability, and try to ask some genuine questions of your own, such as “How have you been doing lately?” or “What books are you reading at the moment?” This will show the person that you at least seem invested in the conversation, even if you aren’t.

2: The couch

After you’ve successfully stuffed yourself with food, you’ll eventually make your way to the couch. Take some time to yourself. Depending on how introverted you are, those small conversations might leave you drained. Some things that could rejuvenate you are texting your friends or reading a book. Messaging close friends will give you time to vent, while reading lets you escape. If you aren’t able to discreetly play on your phone or read a book, the time has come for you to hide somewhere. Find a room no one looks in often, such as a computer room or guest bedroom and stay there for a bit. Once you feel like people will begin to notice you’re gone, make your way back to the couch. Eventually, family members will fill in the spaces around you, and if you hear an intriguing conversation, engage in it. If you don’t see all your family members regularly, this is the perfect time to get to know them better. However, if you are happier playing on your phone or reading a book, continue doing what makes you most comfortable.

3: Cousins

If you have a big family, the major obstacle at events won’t be adults, but kids your age. It’s hard to break the ice with people you only see a couple times a year, but it’s worth it. Before you know it, you’ll be the hostess of a family event and you want to know a thing or two about the people attending. Begin with topics everyone can discuss, such as school or friends. You can ease into the conversation and chances are you’ll end up talking about a different topic than what you started with. Another activity everyone can be a part of is watching a show or movie. Find one everyone likes and watch it together. This way you can enjoy each other’s company and bond over favorite parts of the movie or TV show you are watching without awkward small talk.

4: Escape

There comes a time at family events when you need to separate yourself from others. If the party is at your house, it is time to escape to your room. Recharge for 30 minutes or so and then head back downstairs to be with your family before they leave. If you’re at someone else’s house, excuse yourself and go the restroom for a bit. You can’t stay in there for 30 minutes, but simply taking 10 minutes to yourself can be enough. Play on your phone or splash some water on your face. This will help you recharge and leave you feeling content with your survival at this family event.