| | My Thursday night
So, I tried to be social Thursday night. I was invited to a battle of the bands between the different schools at my university. I knew some of the people in our school's band, albeit not very well, so I decided to show up. I like live music anyhow.
I got there, and they had these little questionnaires asking you trivia questions about all of the schools. If you completed the questionnaire properly, you would be entered to win a prize. The idea was to get you talking to people in other schools, so I grabbed one and didn't really have any problem walking up to people I didn't know and asking them some questions. We would briefly chat, but eventually we each would part ways to get the rest of the questions answered.
After about 30 minutes, I had my questions answered. Now there were maybe 40 people there. It was starting to get crowded and people were starting to form little conversational circles. I identified one that was a mixture of men and women (I don't like talking to only women because it makes me look like I'm hitting on them and I'm really bad at traditional "guy talk") and tried to enter it. They were standing in a small circle talking to eachother. It was too loud to hear about what. I tried to enter the circle by physically inserting myself into it, but they didn't open up. Maybe I just didn't assert myself enough. Anyhow, I left to go chat with some other people who I know, but aren't my friends.
Eventually, the bands start playing. I listen to the bands, but there is downtime between them as the new bands set up their stuff. I realize I should be talking to people. I look around. Everyone seems to be engaged in a conversation with other people. I pick one or two people who seem to be a bit lost and then thinking about approaching. I try to focus on all the negative thoughts I was having to keep me from doing it ("you're not interesting enough, they'll reject you, what if she has a boyfriend, what if he thinks you're gay"), but I realize I'm not having any of those. The only thought I have is, "What the hell am I going to say after hello?" My mind feels completely and utterly blank.
I have no idea what sort of fear that is. I do well when I'm in situations where I know what I'm going to say, but I guess I fall flat on my face when I'm improvising it. I guess I also worry that if I make a bad impression, people will remember me. These aren't random people in a bar, I recognize many of them from other events, and I will see them again.
What kind of fear is this? So, how do I get over this? I looked into Toastmasters, but I don't think it really addresses my issues. I can give a prepared speech any day; I've lectured hundreds of people before and even once gave a speech in front of ~1,000 people. It's the small, social settings that I fail at.