I know the pandemic is supposed to be slowing down Thanksgiving for some of us. But I can’t help but think about my love/hate relationship with this holiday as an introverted Black girl. If your Black family is anything like the ones on tiktok, you’re getting ready to come through dripping just to sit on the couch with socks on to ask “who made the [insert very important Thanksgiving meal component here]?”
I’ve lamented about being an introverted Black girl at work. It seems being a quiet Black girl is not what the masses want for us. It takes much effort to prepare to entertain when it’s unavoidable, like when it’s time to network. But it’s especially taboo in many social situations with kinfolk to be the quiet Black girl in the room.
I’ve been trying to get my mother to truly grasp that being an introverted Black girl is not something I need to aspire to grow out of. We’re still working on that. If you’ve ever experienced everybody asking you “what’s wrong” at a gathering when you really just ran out of steam, this post is for you sis.
The Quiet Black Girl at the family function
Sidebar, I’ll never forget that I started Zoloft the night before Thanksgiving 2017, up all night with insomnia, spent all day in bed sleeping, and then cried for hours panicking about having to engage my family in the living room. That was not introverted Black girl. That was mental warfare. Needless to say, I’m no longer on Zoloft. It was a crazy time and I laugh when I think about it now. I probably shouldn’t, but we won’t talk about ignoring trauma on this post.
My personal favorite is being required to entertain folk who you know are about to ask you about that thing in your life that drains your introvert battery at a much higher rate than non-inflammatory conversation:
“So when you graduating?”
“You still with that boy?”
Or, straight from Penny’s momma:
“When you gon put some beans in that oven?”
All you can do is let that left eye twitch and think “whenever you stop burning them peas for the church potluck sister Johnson”. Ah, what a time.
As an introverted Black girl, I actually really enjoy good company. If the vibe is right, I am your turnup Queen. However, even the right vibe has an expiration date and time. Mine just happens to be a lot sooner than other people’s. That’s all being an introvert really is. So just know, if I’m being an entertainer during the Thanksgiving feast, I’m hibernating until Christmas Day. Minimum.
Introverted Black girl or socially anxious?
That’s worth exploring if you’re not sure (And you can be both). There’s a difference that’s worthy of a separate post. Being an introverted black girl does not mean that you’re having an experinece like my Thanksgiving Zoloft story. If you experience intense anxiety before a social situation like I did, you should consider consulting a mental health professional. Wanting to be alone because I’m recharging is not the same as actively hiding from social interaction out of fear. Granted, I’ve had my moments.
How do I survive the family Thanksgiving if I’m an introverted Black girl?
While this is a bit trickier than the tips I gave for how to survive networking as an introvert, there are things to consider:
Arrive late, leave early, if possible
Leaving early may not be possible depending on how your family does thanksgiving. Maybe yall traditionally leave at the same time from the host’s residence. Then show up late, girl! Trying to leave early like I plan, after I force myself out of the house, hardly ever works out for me. Whole time, I could have just strolled in later and saved my social battery.
If you only have about 2 good hours of interaction in you and they like to linger until 11pm? Ring that doorbell at 9pm girl.
Let your people know you be introverting
This might feel weird for some people to consider but it’s worth an attempt. Simply let your favorite auntie know in advance that you’re going to conk out after too many “how’s school?” inquiries. People may not fully understand what being an introverted black girl means. But, at least they’ll have something to work with so they don’t interpret your eventual quietness with offense. Find a way to let people know that you’re enjoying family even if you go from life of the party to quiet black girl before the night is over.
Rest up in advance
Don’t go to happy hours all week, brunch and church in the same day, and run your clock out in the before the Thanksgiving festivities. Keep your social calendar clear for a bit, spend time doing quiet black girl activities like journaling, reading, binging Christmas movies (btw, have you seen Jingle Jangle???) and create space for you to want a little social spice in your life by the time Thanksgiving day rolls around.
Bonus Tip: If you need to escape the people, go find the cousin that doesn’t leave hone without the frontal. They’re probably out there lighting up and not trying to do much talking anyway.
Lastly: Spending time with family and close friends is wonderful, especially now when people are losing loved ones all over the place. Yet, it’s not necessary to feel obligated to deplete your energy just to say you saw your cousins. When all else fails, let the family know there’s a pandemic outside and get someone to bring you a plate. The end, lol.
Have a happy and SAFE holiday!