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For a lot of people, the holiday season is all about faith, joy, love, family, good meals and presents. I love the core of the holidays: family, faith, and love, but all the added social situations leave me tired and ready to retreat. For me, the holidays are a time of high anxiety because I am an introvert. Introverts are people who thrive best when they are alone. We are often called shy, thoughtful, quiet or even reserved. Unlike extroverts, who come alive when surrounded by tons of people, introverts love their solitude. And this is precisely why the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is too much for me.

From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, the streets, malls and coffee shops are filled to the brim with more people than any time during the rest of the year. No place is safe from the throngs of eager shoppers or people on their way to holiday parties and dinners. Anarchy much?

And the holiday social gatherings can be a bit of a nightmare for us introverts. I shudder at the thought of being forced to attend the mandatory holiday office parties where you are forced into cramped environments with drunken co-workers and bosses. Everything is loud and close and emotionally chaotic. Most people can get through the office holiday party because there’s usually an open bar and free food, but for me, nothing free is worth the amount of time it will take to recuperate from the frenetic atmosphere.

After a major Saturday night holiday function, I have to be sure to free up my Sunday so that I can sleep and regain my energy. The morning after a big soiree or extreme social outing, I always experience an emotional hangover. It’s important that I have time to get myself right before delving into more social situations, if I can help it. My favorite sound during the holiday season is that of my front door lock clicking into place and the exhale I take after plopping down on the couch to Netflix and chill–by myself. (An ideal activity for both introversion and flirty nights.)

To make matters worse, my birthday is in December. As an adult, I have taken it upon myself to organize situations where small groups of friends can hang out at my house to celebrate. The normal inclination for a youngin’ is to have a night out on the town, but since it’s my birthday, I choose not to put myself in any anxious situations. I sometimes wonder what it’s like to be an extrovert or to just be able to enjoy fully a big social encounter and go on about your day, but I recognize that I’m just not one of those people. And I’ve tried. Believe me, I have. But at the end of the day, I am just a run of the mill wallflower.

In the last three weeks, I’ve had to attend six social events and there’s still two more to go until Christmas Day. Thankfully, I have a small family so I don’t have to deal with the insanity of Christmas Day gatherings. But I have to remind myself that I’m almost at the finish line to retain my composure. It’s important for me to keep the finish line in sight and it’s an extremely helpful exercise for me to count down the days until my major social obligations are over. For me, Christmas is just about getting out on the other side so that I can fall back into my quiet routine. So know that as you’re dabbing your way through your Christmas party this weekend, I’ll be at an Ugly Christmas sweater party dreaming about Netflix and chilling on January 2, 2016.

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