Lessons I’m Still Learning…

…And Wishing I Had Started Much Earlier.

I’ve been fighting my social anxiety demons for my entire life. But they didn’t really negatively impact my life until I graduated from college and I just started retreating more into my home and started doing all of my socializing online. After Dad died, I realized I need to get out more and started pushing outside my comfort zone and these are some of the lessons I’ve been learning along the way. Some I’m further into learning than others. Some are more of a natural habit now and others are still awkward and new. Either way – they’re things I wish I had started trying to apply to my life to conquer my social anxieties much earlier!

Questions Are The Key To Good Conversation

If I’m feeling awkward in a conversation asking questions to the other person/people will always save the day. First of all it takes the weight off of me to do the talking, and second of all it helps the other person relax too if they’re feeling awkward as well. Finally? It helps me get to know the person I’m talking with and that’s never a wrong move – to try to get to know someone better.

Listen to Learn, Not To Talk

This one I’m still on the “novice” side of things. I’m good at asking the questions but sometimes, especially if I’m learning how much I have in common with someone, I am excitedly waiting for my turn in the conversation. To keep from doing this (Like I said, this is a lesson I’m still learning) I try to challenge myself to go back to that first lesson and find a NEW question to ask based on the answer the person is giving me. I try to shut down the voice that says, “My turn to talk!” because then I’ll just be thinking about what I’m going to say.

Unless You Can Praise Their Contribution To The Conversation…then Talk Away!

I have found it’s okay to Listen to Talk if the other person’s experiences or insight is enlightening you. I love running conversations with my friends because they often totally blow my mind with things and then? Then I have to tell them. And I’ve found that when you can say: “That thing you said is spot on!” and explain why? It truly helps nurture a good conversation because then the other person feels invigorated to keep engaging.

Reach Out

I have always been terrible about trying to be there for people who are suffering. I’ve been better since losing Dad because I was so grateful for the people who reached out to me during his final weeks and after he died, but I still truly suck at it. I tend to just get wrapped up in my own head and just talk myself out of it. However, I try to apply the “Ask Questions” rule to these moments and sometimes that helps. Asking someone specifics of how they’re doing, or how their loved one is doing. Or maybe asking specifics about things like sleep. If someone is going through a challenging time, they’re probably not sleeping so checking in and saying, “Are able to sleep at all?” Is a sincere question that really seems to help show you’re really thinking about a person. I know when I’m suffering sleep is the first to go, so I tend to start off on that foot. But otherwise? I try to at least just let the person know I’ve been thinking about them. But like I said, I probably don’t reach out much more often than I do.

When You Do Reach Out, It’s Not About You

I am super self-absorbed when it comes to social awkwardness. I always assume everyone is thinking about how I’m the worst. So, when I do reach out, I often get worried when the person never responds back. Did I say the wrong thing? Are they not appreciative of my efforts? And dude…THAT IS THE WORST. I get so angry at myself when I catch myself doing that. I think it’s because I’m still so new at “conquering” social awkwardness that I’m always worried I’m not doing it right. But also it’s because I’m human and tend to just always make it about me.

Awkwardness Only Disintegrates With Familiarity

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you can only lose your awkwardness the more you get to know someone. I no longer worry about being awkward around a lot of my friends, they expect it and love it about me. So social anxieties can only be conquered by getting out and socializing. It sucks, but it does prove to be worth it when you discover that in the end? We all feel like we are THE WORST at socializing.

5 thoughts on “Lessons I’m Still Learning…

  1. Colleen says:

    This is spot on! About reaching out to others, I too don’t do it enough either. I learned something about it when I was going through a time when my Dad was having open heart surgery & my mother in law was dying of cancer. What I learned then was that the act of reaching out meant more to me than what people said. I try and remember that when it is my turn to reach out. I agree too about awkwardness and social anxiety getting better with getting out more. I do much better when I get out on a regular basis. I love the running conversations too!

  2. Beth says:

    I really don’t find you to be socially awkward, and I think that the use of the word awkward could be holding you back. How about being socially uncomfortable. I am very much like you. I am about finished with the book Quiet (The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking) by Susan Cain). If you would like to read it , I will put it in the car and give it to you when I see you next

  3. Kate says:

    I love the way you put this, particularly the first three points, which I struggle with the most. I just wrote them in my bullet journal – your words will be so helpful when I need encouragement and focus (and a succinct phrase to refer to!) before I know I’m going to be interacting with people. Thank you!

  4. Grace says:

    Thanks for putting this up. Interestingly, it’s not just introverts who can learn from this technique, it’s everyone. I have to try really hard to listen and and not plan out what I’m going to say next! But I am working on it, always, and I am far better than I used to be at it.

  5. T says:

    I agree this is spot on. I particularly relate to “When You Do Reach Out, It’s Not About You”. It’s easy to over analyse every interaction especially with someone you’re not necessarily close to on an emotional level

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