Introvert faced with exhausting family reunion


B, a 20 year old college student, submitted the following problem. To me it’s a double problem, because not only is she faced with a super-long, exhausting ordeal, but if she goes to it she’ll be losing some of the precious, very short time she’s supposed to have to just relax this summer.

My father’s side of the family is planning a two day family reunion this summer. (The reunion is out of town and would require having to stay over.) The only problem is I have no interest in going. Most of these people I have never met before and I know I’m going to get overwhelmed from constantly having to make conversation with complete strangers. The other concern is my father’s side of the family is highly extroverted while I take after my mother’s more introverted side of the family. I don’t think I can physically handle two days of conversations with strangers without knowing that I can retreat home.

I should also mention that I went to my cousin’s confirmation in the Catholic church and we spent Friday night with his family (father’s side, no relation) and I returned home wiped out from from having to make constant conversation.

I’ve also been on campus for the past two months taking classes that are 2 1/2 hours long and require participation as part of the grade. After I finish this session, I have two weeks to enjoy what is left of my summer vacation before fall semester starts. I just want to relax, and I know I can’t do that being around strangers for two days.

Is there anyway to express this to my father? Or is there no way around it?

Photo credit: Sherrie Thai



  1. Oh wow, I can really sympathize! Even a reunion of a few hours (without having to stay over) is so exhausting. Everyone is talking at once, and after a while I can hardly stand to look at anyone or talk (except to the people I see and talk to every day). It’s just too much! For me, the staying over part automatically rules things out and I say I’m afraid I can’t. Wow it’s such a shame they didn’t plan this while you were on campus and had a great excuse!

    I don’t know how your dad is though. Would it just devastate him to not have you with him, and would he consider it a rejection of his side of the family? If so, could you maybe get a hotel room and then you make appearances from time to time at the reunion but also go back there to read a delicious book all alone sometimes too? Or – would he consider just going for one day and missing some of the “fun?” 😉

    It seems to me that either your dad is going to be disappointed or you’re going to be exhausted, unless we can think of some great explanation (that won’t insult the family who we know will NOT understand introversion) or compromise.

    • I think he might consider it a rejection of his side of the family, but I also think it’s more for the showmanship of his daughter attending. It’s not that I’m intentionally trying to be rude, but I doubt if I’ll make it more than a few hours on the first day.

      My dad has already made his arrangements to stay with a relative in town; I told them that I would have to wait and see if I had an exam on that Saturday, but it’s been scheduled for the last day of class. I think he just might have to be disappointed.

      • The showmanship, YES – I remember thinking that very thing when I wanted to decline going to a wedding or other occasion and my extroverted husband objected that people would think something was wrong, etc. I realized, if I go, no one’s going to care, and it’s really nothing positive at all. But if I DON’T go, there’s a big negative. So it’s like a lose-lose situation in some ways. :}

        On the other hand, this is your family, so I know you don’t want this weighing on you – in other words, if you decline, will it make you unhappy and guilty-feeling instead of letting you enjoy your free time?

  2. Isn’t it all about balance? Each of us has a preference of what we would rather be
    doing. The reason, being founded in our being physically hard-wired tendency for one or the other, is where we renew ourselves from, how we get energized. While extroverts are uplifted by time with others, introverts would rather be alone. An introvert generally prefers to be along and some label this as ‘anti-social’. It is not that they do not like people and it’s not that they cannot be social. They can be as social as a social butterfly; however, small doses work best.

    In being a social butterfly and putting energy out to others, introverts physically
    exhaust themselves. You just have to manage your activity before, during and after the event. Doing this, you will not be labeled “party pooper” as can happen without taking care of yourself. If you can be creative in how you do this, it will seem to others
    that you are as social as they come if that is the perception you want. Introverts prefer to be alone because the daily extroverting can drag their energy down.

    Introverts tend to get uplifted on their own. “B” may prefer to preserve her energy because she is better for it. How can it be bad that you do something good for
    yourself to be better? You may only need to tap your strategic nature to help with a few energy boosters during the reunion.
    Rachel Lavern@Business Analyst/Coach´s last post ..What is the Secret to Success?

  3. SomeCanadianPerson on

    I can totally relate. My dad’s family is very extroverted as well. Does your dad get the whole introverted thing? If not, you should try to explain. Ask help from your mom if you need it. The way I see it is either tell him you don’t want to go, or find ways you can escape. If there’s going to be that many people, they may not notice if you slip away for a while. Telling your dad you want to come, but you’ll need to escape every once in a while might not be as hard for him to swallow. I know how hard it is though. You gotta take care of yourself and face talking to him sooner or later.

    • No, he doesn’t really get the whole introvert vs extrovert thing. If I attempted to explain it to him (which I’ve unsuccessfully tried in the past), it would no doubt end in a lecture about how I need to be more social since this is a family event.

      • Ooh, sounds like some of my family members. I have no advice beyond what people said above, but I do hope you can get it sorted to both your own and your dad’s satisfaction.

      • SomeCanadianPerson on

        Some people are oblivious to the introverted personality type. Have you tried to show him any literature? My girlfriend knew of it, but it really helped her to read to better understand it.

  4. Great post i am looking forward meet some of my relatives before we use to do that when my father not past away he always organized meet i love to have a conversation to them.thanks!
    Rizza´s last post ..Guilty Pleasures In Life

  5. I guess you get used to this type of scenario. In my case I also don’t like going on reunion on my father side family because i don’t know them that much and the age group is terrible. Just go with the flow you might like it in dude time.

  6. I know the feeling. I know how it feels like to be with so many people. My insecurity really boosts whenever I am on reunions. I even have some problems with family reunions. My introversion is really on its peak. But I have no choice about it so now I get used to it.

  7. This is a bit of a sticky situation. I know my dad would be very disappointed if I told him I didn’t want to do something like this….is there any way you could go to the reunion but leave early to go to the hotel or place you’re staying if you don’t feel well? You can always say you’re feeling sick…or, I know lying stinks, but maybe tell your dad you’re sick and can’t go? Sometimes lying is better than the truth, and it’d be easier for him to explain to the family that you’re ill than saying you just don’t want to talk to anyone. Haha. I think it’s too late for my advice, I’m wondering if she ended up going?

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