So by now, I guess you lot already know that I have social anxiety. Unfortunately, that also means that when I’m pushed into a situation where I have to be social? I panic. Through the years, I’ve managed to get some “survival tips” that do tend to work for myself. And if any of you get that feeling of “help, people”? Then read on to see how you can survive being social!
Now, of course, these won’t suddenly help you completely overcome any anxiety you might feel when faced with having to be social. However, what has helped me most has been to have some go to-strategies whenever I am put in such a situation.
And this is basically just a list of things I do to make sure I don’t go away from any such a situation with the feeling that I completely failed at being a decent “person”.
First impressions are key
And I don’t mean this in a “if you fail the first impression you’re doomed” kind of way. If you meet a new group of people, you basically just have to force yourself to be social for 5 minutes. That’s it.
If you actually go through those first 5 minutes, and you can force yourself to be really social, that’s how they’ll remember you.
No matter if you then move on to be completely silent, or even if you need a minute to recollect yourself.
(And trust me: I’ve definitely done both of those)
Here’s the thing: people in general tend to be a bit “lazy” when it comes to remembering stuff. Say, for example, you meet someone and they look like they might start crying any minute. No matter how much they’re smiling the rest of the day, you’ll be wondering whether they’re really okay. Same goes for being social! If you’re just social and talkative in the first couple of minutes you meet someone, that’s how you’ll be put into their memory.
That basically means that, by just pushing yourself for a couple of minutes at the right moment, you can save yourself a whole lot of effort and worries later on!
Fake it until you make it
Even if you never make it.
Now, that sounds awfully depressing, I know. However, what worries me most is often not how I actually felt, acted, or behaved. No, that would be entirely too simple.
What does have me running through all the conversations I had throughout the day, then? How I think people perceived me.
A huge thing for me is the fact that I put entirely too much value in what people think of me. I know I shouldn’t, but after 23 years I’ve basically come to turns with the fact that I’m just stuck with that. My ultimate solution to that? Just fake it until you make it.
No matter if I feel sad, annoyed, anxious, like I might start crying at any moment… I act happy, talkative and just generally chipper. At least that way I know for sure I didn’t bother people. Because of course, that’s all I could possibly be doing when I’m not feeling my best, right?
Find “your person”
No matter how big the group of people you find yourself in, there’s bound to be at least one person there that has something in common with you. That might be a sport you like, a person you dislike, a show you watch…
If you find just one person in an entire group to talk with – even if it’s, again, just for 5 minutes – you have a starting point. Again: people will see you talking to someone, and they will assume that means you’re popular, or sociable, or whatever.
This can help both with the “fake it until you make it” and “first impression” as well, because finding just the one person will give you something (or in this case: someone) to hang on to.
Now, of course, that’s way easier if you’re going somewhere with somebody, but even if you’re somewhere on your own, chances are you can easily find at least the one person to talk to.
I generally make it a challenge for myself – for example, I just have to talk to 4 different persons for 2 minutes, and if I do that I can go stand in a corner.
(You might think I’m joking, but that’s how I “survive”)
Give yourself a break
More than anything, you know yourself. You know when you’re just having trouble, and when it would be best to allow yourself a break. Whether it be remove yourself from a situation, not go somewhere, …
If you feel that you are up for a challenge (and this is where you need to learn to be honest with yourself!) you can push yourself. Usually, you will end up feeling okay because of it. (or at least, that’s the case for me)
However, if you know that today is just not a good day – leave it be. Sometimes you can do more “damage’ (big word, I know, but still) by forcing yourself. Sometimes you’ll come home absolutely exhausted, but you’ll know you had a good day. And sometimes you may even surprise yourself.
Whichever of those is the case, though – give yourself a break.
And most importantly: give yourself the room to figure out what works for you!
So there you have it, those are some of the strategies I’ve been using to “survive being social”! What tips and tricks do you have to share? Be sure to let me know below!