Many of you know that I am (and love being) an introvert. I also married an introvert. This is his story.

If you saw Brian at a party, you would never think that he’s an introvert. He is chatty, social and funny. But parties aren’t his thing. In fact, one of his least favorite things in the world is the office birthday party. He used to work at a newspaper in the design department. Every time someone had a birthday, there was a celebration with cake and lots of co-workers. Social protocol dictated that he participate in these events, whether it was his birthday or someone else’s. He found them exhausting. He wanted to spend his breaks away from groups of people after spending hours upon hours with them. And to top it off, he doesn’t like cake. So, to pretend that he felt like chatting with everyone and then feel obligated to take a piece of disgusting cake was not his idea of fun. He would much rather go to lunch with a friend or two.

Fast forward a few years. The newspaper had the staff go through Meyers-Briggs testing, which was designed to identify personality types and educate co-workers how to best work together, given that they were not all the same. Being officially marked as an introvert was a great thing. It allowed him to be true to himself without getting pushback. When you tell someone you don’t want to go to their party because you don’t like parties, they tend to take it personally. When you just went through personality testing/education with that person, you can say I don’t care for group activities – you know, I’m an introvert. It’s not personal. And they believe you!

The tradition at his office was that the person who had the last birthday was supposed to plan the party for the next person’s birthday. Brian told his co-workers that he really didn’t want to participate – he didn’t want to give or receive a party. He said that if they had a party, please know that they were throwing it for their own benefit, not his. And they understood. The best part is that when you work in a department of creatives, you get some unconventional reactions. That year Brian was out of town for training on his birthday. He was dreading the office birthday party that would be waiting for him when he got back, as it was for everyone who wasn’t in the office on their birthday. When he made it back to work, he found this Polaroid on his desk:

office birthday party for introvert

They had the party without him. He LOVED it. Everyone got what they wanted. The extroverts got to have a party, and he didn’t have to go. It was the perfect way to use their Meyers-Briggs training and take all personality types into consideration. Clever, too. When I found this photo the other day, we both laughed about it and he said that was the best birthday party ever!

It goes to show how different we are. I think it’s important as parents, employers and educators to recognize that introverts and extroverts thrive under different circumstances. If we are to encourage growth and happiness, the same mold isn’t going to work for everyone. Some people truly don’t want a party.

To read my story, Confessions of an Introvert, go here.

Linking up to some of these fabulous parties: {This looks funny after I just wrote about introverts not enjoying parties! Online parties are different because the interaction comes at a one-on-one pace. :)}

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8 Responses to An Introvert’s Office Birthday Party

  1. Holly says:

    Love that you are doing this blog and so well written. I never thought of Brian being an introvert and not loving the birthday thing. After reading this he was a trooper for putting up with so many things there. Good to see a pic of the old gang.
    Your old house here is for sale if you ever thought of moving back, ha, ha.

    • Betsy says:

      Aw, thanks for the kind words, Holly. Brian has never been an obvious introvert, so you’re definitely not the only person to be surprised by it. Thanks for news about our old house – no plans to move back, though we hope to be back for a visit sometime soon.

  2. Patricia says:

    That’s awesome! I’m an introvert too, and parties with people that you’re not really close with are exhausting. I love that they took a picture of it for him!

    • Betsy says:

      Documenting it with the picture was a really good touch! Just the thought of this whole thing still makes me giggle. Their smart humor was just the right thing to make Brian’s day.

  3. Niina says:

    Brilliant! To have a job where people really get that we are not from the same mold.

    • Betsy says:

      It was quite amazing, and I haven’t seen anything like it since then. The world needs both introverts and extroverts to function well, and I wish more people would recognize this.

  4. Aunt Judy says:

    Love!!!! PJ is an introvert and doesn’t like these things either. We realized this year while he turned 30 that Jon was turning 21 at the same time and thought they should come home and have a little celebrate. But they really didn’t want to. They came anyway, but there were some hard feelings and reconciliations thereafter! Maybe next year we will try this idea. What fun. We could gather with Tiffany fam in town and just sen him a picture. He would LOVE it!! Definitely will have to try. Love your extrovert aunt Judy!!!

    • Betsy says:

      You are most definitely an extrovert! Good thing the world needs both <3. Brian would love it if you used this idea to make another introvert’s birthday special.

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