If you’re outgoing, making friends can be easy anywhere, but it’s not so easy when you’re an introvert—not even at festivals.
According to Psychology Today, roughly 16–50 percent of the population could be categorized as introverts; so, up to half of us could be introverts without even realizing it. Not to be mistaken for asocial behavior, introverts prefer quality connections with their conversations over quantity banter that may be a bit more shallow. They also prefer views over crowds.
If you ask one, most introverts will say it isn’t about being a hermit so much as really being able to appreciate alone time. Interestingly, brain chemistry is different in introverts, too. In the same study, introverts were determined to have “a low dopamine threshold. They don’t require a lot of stimulation to feel rewarded.” Festivals can provide a range of stimulation, and it helps to understand a few ways to navigate the terrain for the best experience.
On one end of the introvert spectrum, crowds can be overstimulating. They can even trigger a sort of social claustrophobia or stress attack. On the other, it’s actually easier to have fun, because not much action is required to really enjoy the moment. That’s the beauty of introvert living, too, because a scenic view of a sunset or a well-prepared meal may be all you need to end a festival on a good note.
If you’re among the almost half of the population who would self-identify as an introvert, we’ve got a handy list of recommended tips and tricks to help you make the most of any festival experience, no matter who you’re with or where you are.
Wear Something Colorful but Stylish
First off, wear something that presents you at your best, so that meeting new people is easier. You want to be fun without saying a word with an outfit that includes a terrific conversation starter. Accessories and garb need not be showy, but it helps if what you’re wearing features a style that suits your personality. A polka-dot jacket or a paisley top hat could be suggestions, but the range of options is only as limited as your imagination.
Carpool With a Friend Who Has Similar Taste in Music
Being trapped in a careening box with someone else for hours can be stressful, especially for the introvert. Carpooling may be a challenge, but it has the potential to be a lot of fun with the right company. Luckily, introverts know they’re among friends with a quick glance at a potential co-carpooler’s music collection. If you’re an introvert bound for a festival with someone else in tow, opt for someone with music preferences that match your own; it might make the difference between awkward pauses and timeless memories.
Find a Public Chill Space
Scout the map for a chill space that will make for a good chance of finding other introverts who will be drawn to calm environments when the hullabaloo of the event gets into full swing and dancefloors get their most rowdy. Every festival offers some sort of sanctuary away from the crowd. Look for these early on, because later they will serve as both a refuge and an oasis, handy if the occasion ever calls for a momentary sit-down, a solo break, or just a moment of semi-quiet reflection. Plus, when it’s time to reconnect with a scattered group, a tranquil chill space will serve as a convenient rendezvous point.
Bring Something to Share
If you want to bring a little comfort from home, bring enough to share. Aside from anything on the festival’s “do not bring” list, there aren’t really any wrong answers. Blankets are an instant hit on dancefloors under the cold moonlight. Recharging cold-pressed beverages like coffee or juice are a tasteful way to meet the neighbors. Who knows, maybe you’ll bump into them again between stages, while they’re looking to share an extra slice of pizza. They say sharing is caring—but here, it’s just another way we PLUR.
Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
For some people, the dancefloor is an opportunity for some playful body-on-body contact. For introverts, though, it’s an opportunity to make contact with your own soul. When dancing is practiced like a meditation, it becomes a lot easier to find the medicine in the music. Dancing like nobody is watching is more than a confidence-inspiring adage; it’s about knowing yourself better with fearless interpretive expression. When words fail us, there’s always a dancefloor.
Memorize the Names of All Your New Friends
Whether it’s a given name, nickname or rave name, referencing others accurately is a simple but effective way to show a direct interest in them as an individual. With a “Hey, Bob,” instead of “Hey, buddy,” some of the social challenges that introverts face at festivals can be minimized. Taking a moment to remember a name when someone shares it will not only make hanging out around the festival better, but it will actually exercise your friend-making muscles so that the connection shared with others at the event can outlive the limited shelf life of the festival experience.
Create a Few Moments to Relive Later
Once you’ve got a friend or two for a full-fledged fest adventure, it’s just a matter of deciding what to do together. Some experiences lend themselves better to pairs or small groups. Tour the art to see how the theme of the event is communicated in decor and sculpture. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel for a bird’s-eye view. Maybe try weaving through the crowd to the front row for an up-close look at a legend. The goal isn’t to plan future nostalgia, but to have someone else along the way once in a while, so the occasional stroll down memory lane is a story you can share together.