Holiday soirees — they’re coming! And despite all the mall music insisting it’s the most wonderful time of the year, those pretty Paperless Posts can be an invitation to feel, well, kind of panicky. There’s the end-of-the-year schedule that has you feeling like you already have zero time, the invitations from professional contacts to gatherings where you’re expected to leave a good impression without spilling or drinking too much, the roomfuls of appetizer-clutching strangers you’re supposed to charm, and the party clothes that are, in the immortal words of Cher Horowitz, “so binding.” Is it any wonder that holiday parties strike anxiety into the hearts of those of us who aren’t exactly social butterflies?
First big thing to remember: You are so not alone. “Don’t assume that everyone but you feels comfortable,” says Brenda Reynolds, founder of BKR Consulting, and author of the upcoming book TBD —To Be Determined: How to Find Clarity and Confidence in Uncertain Times. “They don’t.” What’s more, everyone else is so busy trying to make themselves look comfortable that they definitely aren’t focusing on you, she adds. The trick is just to walk into that shindig with all the confidence you can muster, chat with a person or two, remember (oh, right!) that you’re totally fine and capable of schmoozing, and then get on with your night/holiday season/life.