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.
I don't think physically inserting yourself into the circle was a good idea. It would feel like you were intruding on someone elses conversation.
I think you're afraid of getting close to people. Making friends isn't about having good conversational skills imo. It's about opening yourself up and being warm and inviting and empathic. About sharing yourself with another person.
In this situation other people would have no idea how you're feeling. They would see you trying to butt in on other peoples conversations without really having anything to contribute except a kind of stoic restraint.
I think there's a deeper problem and trying to fix the symptoms (i.e. social anxiety or whatever) is just avoiding the underlying issue.
Maybe you're afraid of being honest with people and find it easier to maintain a sense of authority and capability then truly express how you feel. Maybe you're deathly afraid of getting close to someone emotionally.
I say this out of experience. I've been through this stage. In my case I unconsiously decided I was better than everyone and they had a problem if they din't want to be friends with me. I've realised I actually had a problem with myself.
For example, I was talking to a Russian girl at this party, and this guy I sort of know just walks into our conversation and starts talking to her. He finds out she's Russian and they start talking in Russian (which I don't understand). Eventually, I realize I can't participate in this conversation and try to politely slink away. Was that rude of him? Probably. But I guarantee you that if you asked her who she liked more, she liked him.
Could be social anxiety disorder. I think Paxil is made for that.
I'm trying to avoid medications if I can. I had a bad experience with Lexapro, and really, the SSRI's all have similar side effects.
I don't think mediccation will solve anything.
I know exactly how you feel. But theres always a deeper problem.
Theres a reason you're not entirely comfortable around people. You need to figure out what that is. I'd advise you to maybe start journalling and meditating or something to do a little soul searching and connect with yourself. It's hard to figure out what the problem is if you are looking away from it.
The people who you watch being successful with other people are just that because they know themselves.
It sounds like you're really trying hard and being persistant. That's a really really good thing. Don't give up. You just need to keep trying different angles until you have a breakthrough. This could be a really small breakthrough but if it's enough to shift your perpective then you're already on your way.
I'm confident that you'll make it eventually. Just concentrate on yourself. Don't be afraid to go really deep into yourself even if it's painful and seems neverending. You have to go through the dark tunnel before you can reach the light.
I'd say don't overanalyze the situation.
Focus on you. The buck stops at you.
Focus on your internals. Focus on how you feel...when you wake up...when you eat food...when you go to sleep.
Intend that "Starting now, in my life, I am more confident, more social, more outspoken, more feeling good, and more chill." You don't have to write it down or anything, just affirm it everyday to yourself as a goal. Maybe when you see a group just say that to yourself.
The feeling inside your body dictates EVERYTHING. And by everything I mean how well the interaction goes. So focus on yourself by making yourself feel good in the moment, maybe with some deep, comfortable breaths, and then talk about whatever you want.
"Hey, you guys seemed cool, I had to meet you, I'm *****."
If you also keep in mind, as a beginner, to keep your voice tonality steady or sloping down and not sloping up, you're gold. Gold.
I've dealt with this before. So, keep yourself in a good state, keep even vocal tonality, and talk about whatever you want. I'll leave you with this.
What is your purpose?
Is it to communicate ideas? Convince people? Probably not. When socializing, the purpose is to spread GOOD feelings and have (give) fun. You can only do this if you are feeling good on your own and then spread it to others. It's the only way to do it sustainably, anyway, without neediness or hesitation. So focus on feeling good! Not on what to say. Focus on the communication of that great feeling in your body to others, using words as the medium. I hope one of these images conjured up a positive image of your success. Go with it.
And BTW, unlike with some other areas of PD, I do not feel introspection and meditation without going out will help you. If you do go out, your introspection should focus only a little on practical bits and mostly on making yourself feel good. Going out and feeling good comes first.
I should mention that my overall view towards my socialization goes in cycles. Most of the time, I'm just frustrated. But rarely, I feel like everything is great, things are going to change because they can't because I'm so awesome. It sounds silly but that's how I feel sometimes. But eventually, I run into a stumbling block and realize that change really isn't coming so easily, and then I'm back at frustration.
I like the idea about trying to spread goodness in social situations. I'll try to think about what that really means and come up with some ways to try to do that next time I socialize. Maybe I'm too focused on trying to improve myself and perhaps I should focus on others. I've noticed that when I have been successful, I often burn out at the social situations. What is a way to keep that level of energy up?
What makes you happy? Perhaps doing something that makes you happy and excited prior to big social events would help. Like listening to your favorite music, reading something inspiring, etc.
Something else that might help is to start small. Make one friend and then bring this friend with you to parties. Then you have each other. Sometimes that's easier.
I made a friend I would bring to those types of events. It made life much, much easier. But she was using me to find out about social events so she could get a boyfriend. I knew that at the time, and I was fine with it because I thought that at least we'd get to know each other and maybe become friends. Eventually, she got her boyfriend, and she stopped talking to me. Not too surprising, and I don't fault her because she was very up-front about her goals. I've generally found that people in relationships simply don't want to be "wing people" since they don't seem to need social interaction aside from their significant others. Alas, I know almost no single people, and the few I know have similar hangups as I do.
I didn't think of what I said as focusing on others - it's focusing on yourself. The buck stops with you. You determine things, the way you feel determines the outcome, and so, at least for me, it's better if I focus on myself, how I feel, and my fun, and others will join in that, than for me to take the locus of control outside of me.
Here's am exercise you can do. One night go out and make a decision to talk to everyone you see. On your way to the bar/club say hi to everyone you see. When you walk into the place take a walk around and say hi to everyone. After you finish saying hi to everyone start at the beginning and start conversations with these people.
Say hello and introduce yourself to each individual in the group, shake their hand and smile. Then talk to them as if they were your friends. Mention the music if you get stuck on what to say.
If you do this with everyone in the place it will greatly loosen you up. The first couple of groups will go not so smoothly. By the end of the night you will have conversations with people easily. You won't remember what you said but it will be good
That is some of the best advice I've ever heard regarding socializing. Spot on post.
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