DEAR AMY: I am a 26-year-old woman living in LA. I am a friendly, open person. I smile and laugh easily. I'm sure my friends would describe me as "nice," or "sweet." Despite my disposition, I am an introvert. In order to keep my energy levels up, I need moments alone throughout the day. I use ride-share apps for transportation and find that drivers almost always want to talk, even when I give subtle cues that I would rather be quiet. When I go to restaurants alone, waiters or other solo diners will want to chat throughout the meal. At the retail store where I work I am very friendly with my co-workers, but they continuously want to talk throughout our shift, and will even come into the break room to talk — or want to go with me if I'm going out. I like people, but my job already demands so much social interaction that moments of peace where I can read or people-watch or just focus on my work are so important to me. Being kind and well-liked is also important to me. How can I deal with these situations without seeming rude or closed off?
DEAR EXHAUSTED: I hope you have read the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," the important and groundbreaking work on introversion by Susan Cain (2013, Broadway Books). Carry it with you.
You already understand that taking care of yourself in this regard is absolutely vital. If you don't — you, your work and your relationships will suffer.
When you use a ride-share car, you can start out by saying, "Thanks — but I'd like to sit here quietly." When you are interrupted during break-time, you can say, "Hey, I'm just going to hang here, close my eyes and recharge my batteries." Wearing earphones and carrying a book might help.
You'll have to assertively train people, giving very obvious cues. And because you are sweet, kind and well-liked, people will learn to respect your needs.
DEAR AMY: I work in a very small (less than 10 people) professional office. One of the bosses will be getting married and the wedding invitations to the out-of-town, very fancy venue will be mailed out shortly. She (the boss) has been very discreet, and no one is supposed to know of the wedding. The majority of us did not even know that she had a boyfriend, much less a fiance. I was tipped off by someone who happened to know. I truly dislike going to weddings and for the most part, avoid them entirely. While I feel close to the boss, other than the obligatory office holiday parties, I do not socialize outside of work. I imagine that once the invitations are sent, I will immediately be asked at work if I will be attending. I prefer to not attend. I don't want to make lame excuses, but my usual, "I'm so sorry that I won't be able to attend," might be construed as rude. Lastly, this is a very well-paid professional, and I feel somewhat obligated to send a wedding gift. Any suggestions on how to respond?
DEAR MATE: Ultimately, you might not have to worry about artfully dodging this invitation, because I think there is a high likelihood that your boss will choose to get married without you and your colleagues being present.
It is professionally very awkward for a boss to invite employees to an expensive destination wedding. An invitation puts you and your colleagues in a tough spot — for the very reasons you cite in your question.
If you do receive an invitation, you should respond promptly and say, "Thank you so much for the invitation. I'm honored to be included. Unfortunately, I'm sorry I won't be able to attend, due to a conflict. I hope you have a really wonderful day."
(The conflict in this instance would be defined as: "I don't like weddings, and this causes me to feel conflicted.")
It would be thoughtful for you all to get together as a group and perhaps purchase a gift — as a collective gift from all of you.
DEAR AMY: I read the question from "Sober" with interest. It can be challenging to be a recovering alcoholic out in the world and surrounded by people who drink. I don't explain myself, anymore. When offered a drink, I just ask for water.
DEAR SOBER: Seltzer is the new martini. Good for you.