St. Patrick’s Day is coming up this weekend. I admit it; I love St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe it’s my Irish heritage, or the fact that I enjoy a pint o’ Guinness now and then, or maybe even my secret love for Irish pub music, but I love it. You might wonder why, exactly, since I’m an introvert and St. Paddy’s Day tends to be a rather “extraverted” kind of day with all of the parties, parades, and crazy things that go on. Well, the reason is that I have developed a survival strategy – not just a survival strategy, but a strategy that helps me to enjoy the festivities while maintaining the integrity of my introvert’s bubble. You might even say it’s a “thriving” strategy instead. It involves a lot of observation, dressing in dark clothes (to match the walls), and quite possibly ear plugs.
In case you find so much extraversion a challenge, or maybe think “what’s the big deal?” about St. Paddy’s Day, I have a few tips and observations to offer to help with understanding and thriving on such a day.
When I was in university, St. Patrick’s Day was a hug deal, not because there were a lot of Irish students, but because many university students are looking for an excuse to “hang out” at the pub, while others don’t need an excuse, but now their friends are able to go out with them so it’s all good. Professors know better than to schedule anything important like tests, quizzes, or major project deadlines on this day (or the day after). The well-prepared students get their studying done ahead of time because by this time of year. And the ones who gave up beer for Lent are having a “cheat-day”. The on-campus pub was prepared with two separate times for people to attend: afternoon, or evening with a break to clear-out and clean-up in-between flights. Since I don’t enjoy lining up for hours on end, or getting bumped around in large crowds, I don’t know how often I made it out to the pub for St. Paddy’s Day celebrations during university. I’m sure I had fun though. A few close friends and a loose plan (or no plan) made for some fun times.
So, what happens nowadays? Because I’m responsible and enjoy convenience, attending a local pub on St. Paddy’s day is a great way to celebrate. Do I do by myself sometimes? You bet I do. An introvert showing off her “quiet confidence” can do such things. Also, if you’re like me and you don’t want to be bothered getting a big group of friends together and worrying about “can we all get in together?” or “what if we don’t all get in together?, what will we do?” and you just want to enjoy a pint and some live music, then going by yourself is perfectly acceptable.
But what about when you get to the Pub?
What about when you get to the pub, and there’s a crowd, or maybe a feeling of awkwardness? This is where standing in line at the bar helps. That is your first order of business. Get your pint of Guinness (or whatever you prefer). You need something to hold in your hand – this makes you look busy and important. It also helps you fit in because that’s what everyone else is doing, including the band (between sets of course). Introverts, this could get dicey for a period of time should someone in line with you be a little bit chatty and like the small talk. Small talk is alright – introverts tend to like the deep conversations, but keep in mind that may be a little much for someone who has been at the pub all afternoon. Start slowly, and build up from there.
Another thing to do to fend off awkwardness is to get your phone out. This also makes you look important. Odds are that you’ve found at least one friend who is meeting you at the pub. You’ll have to check your phone to see whether they’ve messaged you as to their ETA, and to check on their ability to get through the line and past the bouncers.
Dealing with Strangers
Having a friend meet you at the pub means that you don’t have to talk to strangers if you don’t want to. You can instead talk to your friend and have a catch-up over a pint while listening to some Irish pub music from a live band. I recommend bringing your extraverted friend along. If any strangers come to talk to you, your friend can handle them. You can listen and observe; two things that come naturally to you, and jump in with a perfectly-time comment or joke.
Are you by yourself still? No problem! Just stand against the wall and blend in. You’re here to listen to the band and drink Guinness. Stop looking nice and approachable, or … Darn it! You’ve been spotted! You were smiling and somebody saw. My idea if this happens to me is to talk incessantly about my cat, cat videos, or something off-the-wall nerdy. That should get them to move on. Or, just say ‘no’ when they ask for your phone number. It works every time.
Much like my party strategies for family get-togethers at Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties, what you wear could have an impact on whether strangers talk to you (assuming you don’t want them to). You’ll need some pub camouflage: dark clothing. Clothing that matches the colour of the walls. Find a spot to stand, and stay there – sitting at a table by yourself (if there’s one available) can only invite attention. Some strangers are nice, so I suggest talking to them a little bit. Your extraverted friend can help you here. They are awesome at breaking the ice!
You don’t have to become best friends. In fact, a rather friendly stranger can help you feel comfortable and may even ask you to join them at their table of friends. You may need to answer a few questions like:
- “what’s your name?” or
- “what do you do for a living” and maybe even
- “do you come here often?”
And then you sit and listen to the table-conversations and the band while enjoying a perfectly poured beer.
I don’t get it, but parades are popular. There are even some rather famous St. Patrick’s Day parades. If you’re an introvert, watching a parade is fairly passive as you’re just watching and you don’t have to be in it (phew!). If you don’t mind the crowds, I say go for it.
If, after all this, you’re rather concerned that there isn’t enough emphasis on the reason for the day – which is St. Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland – then you’re in luck (ha, ha…luck) because this year St. Patrick’s Day is on a Sunday. That means you can calm your guilty conscience by attending church in the morning, and then still be able to hit the pub in the afternoon. Win-win-win! You don’t have a four-leaf clover for good luck, or even be Irish. But for one day of the year, you can pretend. Slainte!