A SXSW guide for introverts: How to attend, or avoid, the festival in relative peace

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Photo Credit: Tiffany Hinojosa | Daily Texan Staff

Thousands of people from all over the world gather in Austin for the annual South By Southwest festival, bringing with them a chaotic energy that is thrilling — and, at times, borderline terrifying. For introverts, an influx of people this large can easily become overwhelming. Whether you’re an introvert braving the crowds or avoiding SXSW completely, here are some tips to guide you in your festival experience.

Dress to repel

Are you excited to experience SXSW but dreading the obligation to chitchat with random strangers as you’re waiting in those long SXSW lines? No worries — the trick is to dress to repel. Add celebrity-size sunglasses and a floppy hat or baseball cap to your wardrobe essentials. Accessorize with your phone in hand because that gives you a “busy and unapproachable” vibe.

One warning: Subtlety is key to successfully accomplishing this trick. You want to give off a generally intimidating air, but don’t overdo the “covert, busy, trying to hide” getup unless you want to appear to be an undercover celebrity. Go too far, and you will attract curious, star-minded strangers.

Bring your posse

Introverts tend to feel drained and alone in large crowds, and they are more comfortable in familiar settings with small groups of close friends. To make the most of your SXSW experience, bring your best friends with you. Not only will they keep you energized throughout the day, but they can also serve as a human barricade against unwanted communication. They can do all the talking and schmoozing while you smile stiffly behind them. After all, isn’t that what friends are really for? 

Take the time to recharge

After being around people all day, the best way for an introvert to recover is a nice, long block of alone time. Instead of following your friends to late-night SXSW parties, opt instead to go back home. Put on some music or turn on the TV, eat some leftovers, and let the day’s events wash over you. Sleep for a long, long time. You’ll do this all over again the next day, and although you’re quite excited, recognize when your introverted batteries need recharging. 

Stock up on provisions

Before the endless wave of festival-goers start rolling in, make a trip to the nearest H-E-B, and stock up on all the groceries you’ll need for the next several days. Face it — there is probably no way you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite local restaurants. All your usual haunts will inevitably fall to an overwhelming swarm of out-of-towners armed with Yelp, so play it safe and plan on cooking at home for a week.

Master the art of productive hibernation

Next comes the question of what you’ll do while cooped up in your den. Remember all those tasks you’ve mentally stored for “when you’re not too busy”? Now is the perfect time to clean out the refrigerator, fill out that scholarship application and resolve that lingering issue with your dental insurance plan. Call your grandparents! Get ahead on your homework! Or just spend an insane amount of time watching Netflix while eating out of a giant jar of peanut butter. We won’t judge you. We promise.

Your computer is your best friend

Watching your friends gush over the cool bands they’ve seen and celebrities they’ve met sounds like it would be jealousy-inducing. It won’t be. Just looking at endless albums of blurry pictures will be enough to give you the beginning of a massive headache, affirming all your life choices. 

To keep up with your friends’ adventures, count on replaying your friends’ Snapchat stories at least three times. First, listen to what the band is actually playing. Second, try and hear what your friend is shouting in the video. Third, process all the flashing lights and ecstatic faces. See? Aren’t you glad you’re in the serenity of your own home?