Written by Dotty Winters


It’s your party and I’ll cry if I want to

Parties have always been Dotty Winters’ kryptonite but this time she’s fighting back.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

I’m a real party animal. The specific type of party animal I am is a hedgehog, in that parties make me want to eat worms and hibernate while repelling the world with my prickly personality. This is why you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties. My kitchen, at home, experiencing severe fear of missing out and eating my feelings.

I am not someone who others would necessarily associate with any form of social anxiety; I’m pretty confident and outgoing, I talk to strangers for a living and I love spending time with people. Invite me to a brunch, a bowling alley or an intervention and I will be there with bells on. Invite me to a party and these things will happen, in this order:

1. Receive invitation.
2. Assume invitation has been received in error.
3. Ignore invitation to avoid inevitable embarrassment of it being withdrawn.
4. Have a word with myself and decide invitation probably isn’t an error, it’s almost definitely been sent out of politeness.
5. Work out who else will be there. Realise they are all people I like and would enjoy spending time with.
6. RSVP and agree to go.
7. Panic.
8. Back out.
9. Stay home, stalking the party on social media and wishing I was there, with the cool people.

All of this is ridiculous. I’ve never been to a party and not had a brilliant time. The people I know are almost all wonderful and are incredible company. It is an honour and a delight to spend time with them. I don’t suffer from social anxiety in any other setting; parties are my kryptonite.

Somewhere inside this confident, often outspoken and highly outgoing woman is a nerdy school kid who has watched too many American movies about cool kids and jocks. This year I went to the tram museum dressed as Zombie Mary Poppins for no good reason, but I still might turn up to a room full of people I like and be laughed out of the place for wearing the wrong trainers.

My memories and experiences of actual parties I have enjoyed are completely hidden in my brain behind images of other parties which I’ve never been to. My party anxieties are all imagined scenarios borrowed from pop culture and amplified by my imagination:

• Someone yanking a chair away just as I sit down in musical chairs.
• Some form of keg party in an American frat house, in which I am not a cheerleader.
• A 1980s party in which someone offers me drugs while the unmistakable soundtrack of a public information film plays.

None of these are things which are likely to happen. All of these are things which, if they did happen, I could badass my way through. I am the master of styling it out.

So, this is me coming out. This year I am dusting off my sequinned hair band, gift-wrapping a Polly Pocket, and preparing to drink Capri Sun until I vomit up my Wotsits; I’m gonna party like it’s 1989. I have years of missed out party fun to catch up on. Cool kids still get to play musical statues and pass-the-parcel, right?


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Written by Dotty Winters

Nascent stand-up, fan of fancy words, purveyor of occasional wrongness, haphazard but enthusiastic parent, science-fan, apprentice-feminist.