How To Stop Feeling Awkward At Parties & Start Enjoying Yourself

Have you noticed yourself saying no to invites out? Ever ask yourself why? The party scene isn’t for everyone, but if you feel socially anxious every time you’re around strangers, parties are actually the ideal place to work on your skills — because if you think you’re going to thrive in this world as a complete introvert, you might be out of luck. Here’s how to actually enjoy yourself.

  1. BYOB. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, you can bring your own drinks. That way, you cut down the awkwardness of whether or not a certain beer in the fridge is up for grabs, or brought by someone else. If you want to give the illusion of drinking, bring your own flask and fill it with something non-alcoholic. That, or you can say your soda is spiked. Take control over the situation and remember that nobody’s going to call you out.
  2. See if you can bring a friend. The goal here isn’t just to hang out with your one friend at a different venue — but it’s to make you feel comfortable enough with your surroundings and know you have someone looking out for you. This is especially important if you’re partying at someone’s place you don’t really know. As sad as it is, women really need to look out for each other during events like this. So if your awkwardness is stemming from nerves that something bad might happen, use the buddy system.
  3. Set a time to leave before you get there. Knowing you have an exit plan might ease some of the anxiety you have about the party. If partying isn’t normally your thing, you can start small (and make a one-hour appearance) and then try to extend it from there. Social gatherings get easier once you’ve done them enough.
  4. Just remember that you might be thinking too hard about awkward mishaps. Do you want to be the girl who vomits everywhere? No, of course not. But unless you’re completely out of control, any sort of “embarrassing” incident, like tripping over your words, or blanking on your schedule, or letting a conversation go on too long, will be forgotten by the morning. You’re your harshest critic.
  5. Find the perfect outfit beforehand. There’s a reason why women like to look at wedding dresses, even if they’re not even engaged. It’s because it’s fun to envision the future and fantasize about what may be. So, why not channel those same feelings into your next party? Plan out what you’re going to wear ahead of time, and you can even use the gathering as an excuse to buy something new. Just go into it feeling confident.
  6. Come prepared with a funny story. Pretend you’re like a guest on a late-night show. Have one quippy story prepared if you happen to run into someone you know who wants to know how you’ve been. Just make sure not to repeat the story with other guests — but, you probably won’t have to. After the one successful and fun conversation, your confidence about the night will naturally build.
  7. Be open about the other guests. There’s a good chance that you’ve accidentally stereotyped them in some way. So if you see “the nerd from your English class” hanging around, feel free to use English class as your intro and strike up a conversation. Make a goal to form true opinions on people. Judging people early on is an easy way to have an excuse not to be social. Everyone deserves at least one chance to actually shine.
  8. Don’t go with a goal to hook up with someone. If you do, you risk going home disappointed. If you meet a cute guy, that’s great. But, that should serve as just one good thing about the gathering as a whole. Plus, if you’re only in it to sleep with a stranger, you’re going to look incredibly desperate by the end of the night. Let things happen naturally.
  9. Get your rides situated before you go. If you don’t trust that your friend will actually be the designated driver due to peer pressure, don’t let her add anxiety to your night. Flaky friends can often ruin party experiences for everyone, and it may be the reason why you’re a bit tense. Make sure Lyft or Uber is available in your neighborhood, and download the app before you even leave. Always have a backup plan to travel safely. Drinking and driving is literally one of the worst things you can do, especially in this day and age, so being prepared to get a driver is just the smart choice.
  10. Remember that parties aren’t always what movies make them seem like. If your idea of a party has been painted by a late ’90s comedy movie, or perhaps one really cringeworthy high school rager, just know that you may be panicking for no reason. Parties normally consist of a medium group who socialize, listen to music, or maybe play a movie. Food is often part of it, as well as drinking. If anything more happens that makes you uncomfortable? Just know that there really is no shame in leaving.
  11. Re-evaluate your friend group. If your friends keep holding parties that make you feel awkward, it might not be the party — maybe it’s just your friends. Find yourself a nice group of like-minded people who you actually look forward to hanging out with. Just because you’ve known this one particular group since high school doesn’t mean that you owe them your Saturday nights.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.