Fun fact, I absoloutely hate meeting new people. I hate it SO much that I literally call/text my best friend, Laura, before I’m meeting with someone new for the first time and make her talk me into going through with it. She’s going to school to be a school counselor so I like to think she can talk me out of my social anxiety hysteria. I’ve tried so many times to force myself to love talking to people I’ve never met at parties, bars, school, etc. but I just can’t. The mere thought of a forced conversation with someone I don’t know sort of makes me hyperventilate. I never know how much eye contact is too much eye contact (or too little), I don’t want to say something offensive, and I am terrified of being perceived as rude or boring or worse yet, unintelligent. For the first five minutes of conversation with anyone new I essentially hate the person…I know, I know, that is a totally horrible thing to say, but hear me out for a second. In all actuality I don’t hate the person in front of me, in actuality I just hate the pressure of the situation. It’s like sorority recruitment all over again (which surprisingly, I actually didn’t hate). I constantly am brainstorming which question I will ask if there is a lull in the conversation while simultaneously attempting to engage in the present conversation and hopefully not say or do anything too weird (usually I fail at this portion).
After a few minutes my social anxiety fades and I realize the person I’m talking to is, just that, a person. Once the initial terror subsides I’m actually incredibly intrigued by a fresh face. I love to pick people’s brains for new information. I like to analyze a person’s word choice, their nervous habits (I play with my hair, bite my nails, you name it), and their perceptions of life in general. My all time favorite game to play with new people is all about personality analysis. I love to ask questions like “If you were a mythical creature what would it be and why” or “which beverage depicts your personality” or “if you were a mental illness what do you think you would be”. It’s really fun to hear people’s answers and it’s also kind of a social experiment. I’m sort of zany and weird, and if someone refuses to play games like this with me…well we probably wouldn’t have been that good of friends anyways (is that mean to say?)
Recently I’ve been really pushing myself to meet new people. It has been challenging (panic attacks on a daily basis challenging) but I think it’s important to push yourself to grow, to be better. In my case I’m not sure if meeting new people will ever become easier (although I hope it does) but I can at least push myself to become more comfortable (which requires practice). On my quest to better myself I’ve discovered a little about humanity as well (perhaps that’s an overstatement). I am incredibly inspired by and attracted to people without any reservations about being themselves. As a wannabe spokesperson for letting your freak flag fly I am so refreshed when I meet someone who has a strong understanding of who they are. Confidence is so beautiful and just makes anyone seem so much cooler doesn’t it?!
Do you have trouble talking to new people? Or better yet…do you have any tricks to help calm my nerves in this sort of social situation?