In a couple of weeks, I am headed to a conference. I am looking forward to it… most of it anyway. But, the first evening is the reception. While I usually enjoy the actual conference sessions, as an introvert, the reception is not a favorite of mine — especially when I do not already know the people who will be in attendance. Sometimes I attend conference receptions and sometimes I don’t. One thing I have done recently when attending an event I am dreading is to give myself permission to skip out if I give it a chance but find I am not enjoying it. This reduces the anxiety tremendously.
I like how Susan Cain puts it in her book, Quiet:
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.” tweet
What is it that you want out of attending the event? Sometimes to get what you what you want, you may have to do things that you do not like. In my above example, it may be required to attend the reception, or maybe there are a few people that I know will be in attendance that I actually want to meet, and attending will give me an opportunity to meet them. If you need strategies once you get to the event, there are a few ideas mentioned in my “change your comfort zone” article.
But for now, I’ll decide if what I’m going to get out of attending the reception will be worth the “pain” of going, or if having an evening to myself before the conference will be the better option. And next time you are faced with a decision to attend or not attend a function, gathering or event, you’ll have to make the best choice for yourself as well.