I hate group outings, so how did I end up hosting events (& now a big party 😱?!)

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from introverted to consistently creating gatherings for others to meet

As I approach the final 24 hours of preparing for the book launch of How to Talk to Anyone for Introverts, I’m fighting the urge not to panic.

Yes, I’m actually an introvert.

And yes, I now regularly host events in Dallas, TX.

I think growing up lonely (which, for me, manifested as an emotional disconnect from my friends — because I had friends, but I felt lonely in their presence) makes you crave a sense of belonging.

I really wanted to feel seen and heard but felt like no one could ever understand me for who I really was.

I became a really deep listener, which led my friends to become vulnerable with me. Meanwhile, I never opened up to them. So, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when my college roommate said, “I feel really close to you,” when in actuality, I couldn’t reciprocate.

My biggest fear transitioning out of school into “adulthood” was making friends. Without a forced safety net from with consistent schedules and classroom settings, where am I supposed to fulfill my social needs?

Out of desperation, I tried everything. Meetups, Eventbrites, Facebook Events, group fitness classes, and even reaching into the depths of my old connections on Facebook from high school and college… and realized it was a numbers game. The more people I met, the luckier I became with finding someone to connect with.

And yet… due to my tendency to receive rather than share, I still felt alone.

What if I tried being honest with my friends? What if I complimented that random stranger? I began to ask myself.

And that’s when I realized: I had nothing to lose.

This mindset shift to vulnerability changed everything. As I began to deepen my existing relationships by showing up authentically, I noticed that I was also slowly building my confidence in interacting with absolute strangers. Gradually, I overcame my social anxiety and began to feel like I actually belonged.

— Section One: Introduction and Foundations, How to Talk to Anyone for Introverts

With my newfound confidence, I decided to start helping others to connect with each other!

I’ve always loved learning about the stories of others. Which sparked the beginning of the podcast Don’t Be Strangers.

I strongly believe there’s something to be learned from everyone (even if we don’t get along with them), and I have yet to see a podcast where anyone (without fancy accolades and titles) could apply to be a guest.

The podcast has been amazing because it’s given me so many opportunities to meet interesting, kind, knowledgeable people, and yet… something was missing. The audience couldn’t connect with us (my guest and I), and they certainly weren’t connecting with each other!

So that started the pen pals club, which led to online events, which transformed into in-person events. Soon, we’ll be doing our first retreat in the spring of 2024.

Honestly, I didn’t intend for any of this to happen… I think I just kept moving forward with the mission — to fight adult loneliness.

Even the book, How to Talk to Anyone for Introverts, was unintentional. I was just exploring a curiosity (to write a book). And somehow the universe gave me the opportunity to host a book launch.

What even happens at a book launch?!

I didn’t have the answer, but I accepted the opportunity anyway.

That offer came to me in May of this year. I’ve been planning this party since spring. And I have never hosted a party in my life.

“Maybe you should finally read The Art of Gathering,” my friend Abhas was recommending me this book for maybe the nth time in the last few years.

So I did… and promptly became overwhelmed by the number of recommendations the author gives for how to elevate your gatherings (as I realized how many things I’ve been doing wrong).

Why can’t I live a simple life? One where I don’t challenge myself and put myself in stressful situations? Why am I drawn to fear instead of pushed away by it?

Perhaps it’s because one of my core beliefs is that growth is on the other side of fear. And probably a more subtle core belief I hold is that growth is the essence of life.

So here we are, with three luggages in my room and sponsored snacks (which was also a new thing I tried learned for this event — cold emailing brands) I’ve had to resist for the past weeks on end.

I’ve printed out the zines from Canva/Fedex (250 copies for ~$115), bought acrylic table stands (~$20), thought through the layout, created a document with a schedule for myself and volunteers, done endless marketing (which is EXHAUSTING, by the way, for introverts — but at the same time, it’s been fun to do a little “content creation challenge” to post consistently) and… I still need to figure out how I’m going to carry in cases of bottles of Moshi which I didn’t realize would be as heavy as they are. Oops…

I’m never going to host another party in my life. 😂 (So I tell myself, anyway.)

Personally, I can’t wait for this event to be over so it’s no longer hanging over my head!

PS. If you’re in Dallas, I’d love to see you tomorrow Saturday 9/23 from 1–3pm.

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xinyi @ don't be strangers

musings of a creative chimera + nowhere girl🌙🐉 ✨ illustrator, videographer, whatev-er. 📍 somewhere between knowing & searching (host of @dontbestrangers pod)