How Introverts Can Navigate Lunar New Year Visiting In Singapore
STORY: Gwen Tay
21 January 2023
Chinese New Year is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate, but for introverts, the thought of visiting and socializing with so many people can be overwhelming. With the pandemic, the past two years have been a blessing in disguise for introverts. But with the festivities reverting to pre-Covid times, that means it’s back to dodging the awks interrogation from your relatives and wondering how you are going to survive an entire day of conversation.
If you're an introvert looking for ways to navigate the festivities without sacrificing your need for solitude, here are some tips on how to make the most of this CNY and create great memories with your loved ones.
Plan your schedule
Before embarking on the house visits, plan your schedule and make sure you have some alone time built into your itinerary. We know that for some visits, saying ‘no’ is not an option, but you can always prioritise the family events and friend gatherings that you're looking forward to, and schedule them accordingly. This way, you can reserve your energy for the visits that truly matter and avoid feeling mentally drained.
It's also important to remember that being part of a friend clique does not necessitate your presence at a gathering that does not spark joy. While we may have some familial obligations that are hard to turn down, one should have complete liberty of deciding the non-family gatherings that we want to attend.
Prepare small talk ideas
Initiating conversation and avoiding awkward silences can be challenging, especially in a large group setting (ikr). To make things easier, prepare some small talk ideas. Try to steer clear of intrusive questions such as “When are you getting a partner?” or “How much are you earning now ah?” as no one likes a kaypoh person.
Instead, you can start the conversation with open-ended questions such as “How was your year?” or “What have you been up to lately?” which expands the potential topics that can be discussed. If all else fails, pick a piece of news that you’ve read recently online or in the papers. You might want to brace yourself for a debate though.
Mum said it’s rude to talk with your mouth full, right? Food is one alternative refuge from engaging in conversation when you’re too worn-out. That doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in a discussion though – listen keenly to others who are speaking and be responsive with non-verbal cues. Be careful not to eat too many pineapple tarts though – those are almost 100 calories a pop!
Take a break
It’s perfectly okay to step away to recharge and take a break from all the socialising. Take a fake phone call from your “boss”. Go for a long toilet break, touch up your makeup or scroll through TikTok. Or better yet, volunteer to do the dishes after dinner. Confirm your family happy.
Lean on a support system
Chances are, there’s a mix of extroverts and introverts in the family. It can be helpful to have a close sibling, friend, or your partner with you during CNY visits, someone who you trust and feel comfortable with. They can provide a sense of familiarity and support, and can also help to ease conversations and introduce you to others.
You can always count on this support system to pull their weight. Just be sure to let them know that you need some ‘me time’ to recharge your social battery.
Just relax and have fun
Remember that the whole spirit of CNY is to make time to celebrate and connect with the people you care about the most. It's not necessary to be the life of the party or to participate in every conversation, just be yourself and let things happen naturally.
Also, try to let go of any expectations or worries you may have about the visit and focus on the present moment. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of CNY, savour the delicious food, and enjoy the company of your loved ones.