By Robin Smyth
Many people struggle with social anxiety and this can have a causal effect on attending events. Being one of these people, I super wanted to talk about how to overcome those pesky nerves and actually get yourself out of the house. I’m only addressing low level anxiety here.
Having a social life is so important. Without one, what else is there, really? Work, home, work again. The occasional grocery run. That’s just not enough, is it? Granted, we all have those periods of withdrawal where we need to recoup and recharge batteries, but, as a long-term lifestyle choice, being a recluse leaves a little to be desired.
The most important thing, for me, is to recognize the barrage of excuses as they arrive, unbidden in my mind, to erode the desire to get out and about. The second most important thing is to be aware that people are probably looking forward to seeing you, otherwise you wouldn’t have been invited out in the first place. Thirdly, it’s almost always easier to adapt to the situation once you get there.
Some tips that work for me are:
- To plan my outfit in advance, have it ironed and ready to wear and then hang it in view, basically as a reminder of how fabulous I will look wearing it.
- Have a friend pick me up or offer to pick a friend up on the way.
- Look forward to conversing with a specific person at the event.
- Get excited about the meal if one is being served.
- Plan talking points just in case you are a “freezer” type
- Tell myself it’s okay to leave early if I am not enjoying myself.
- Be okay with just being there and hanging out, enjoying the ambiance for a while.
Not sure how to get out there? For some reason, your in-person friend list is ridiculously short and the invites have dribbled down from party all the time to obligatory family functions? It’s most definitely a mandatory thing to get yourself off the couch, step away from the remote and start experiencing life outside the four walls of your home.
Budget does not have to be an issue either. Going for walks in the park or having coffee at a friend’s place is free. If you do have some cash-ola to put towards a bigger and better social life, find websites and apps that organize events for people who share similar interests. A really great one is Meetup.com.
Or, volunteer. It’s a guarantee that some worthy cause somewhere needs whatever skills you have to offer. Love cats? Go scoop litter boxes at a cat shelter or designate yourself an official kitty snuggler and treat giver. Care about people on the streets? Find a soup kitchen or food bank where you can help out the homeless.
Side benefit of volunteering—other than knowing that you, my friend, are a good person—is you get to work alongside other people who share your interests. BOOM. Double whammy of goodness. Out of the house, helping out, meeting people. (Triple whammy?) Right, moving on!
Maybe while you are out there volunteering, other opportunities will come up. We call this, the domino effect. You might find yourself helping to organize a fundraiser or branching off into a different worthy cause thereby hugely increasing your social exposure.
Let’s get back to Meetup.com and similar groups you may stumble across. If being a newbie is a frazzle-maker, keep in mind that everyone in the group had a first time attending, so it’s as easy as showing up and saying “hey y’all, its my first time” and the group will be sure to make you feel right at home. And you get to decide when you want to leave. But try to hang in there for a good long while. Tt does your soul a great service to be with your people.
Socializing is by no means a competition and having 2,460 Facebook friends doesn’t get you a Gold Star or anything. However, having a couple of close and trusted pals, and the option to get out of the house a time or two a month, can make all the difference in the world and will definitely enhance the daily grind.