I am a socially awkward person. Example, I took my daughters to a pumpkin picking event with their school. I hardly said two words to any of the parents. I’m not sure how you start talking to someone out of nowhere. Honestly, when someone begins a conversation with me, I have a hard time keeping it going. I’m a social loser unless I know the group of people I am around and that group of people has crossed the invisible barrier that allows me to cut loose. Those that know me (keywords here, people who KNOW ME) would never guess that I was clumsy with strangers. It’s such an uncomfortable feeling for me that I often avoid social situations where I wouldn’t know anyone. This has everything to do with anxiety and classic avoidance behavior; I know it’s not the healthy answer.
Three years ago we moved to this neighborhood; the houses are spread out with large yards, making it hard to get to know people unless someone takes the initiative. I’m not the type to go knocking on someone’s door to meet and greet. Lucky for me other people are. I’m lucky to have great neighbors all around me. Some have become close friends and people I can vent to without judgment. Don’t we all need those people in our lives?
Last summer one of my neighbors invited me to join her book club. I was nervous, which sounds ridiculous, I know it does! I read the words after I type them and think I’m a joke. My neighbor is a lively person; I was sure her friends would be as well. I worried about having something to say, fitting in, trying to appear like a normal person, and being interesting. It took me several meetings before I would allow myself to drink more than one adult beverage in fear of letting my guard down. I was happy to find there was a connection in the group that made conversation easier—a book! Someone prints out questions, and we talk about the book, which leads to side conversations and even completely derailed banter that can take over the night.
It’s been a trip! I feel like I’m starting to throw down roots here and book club has helped me feel connected. I have been looking for other ways to reach out to those in my community as well, so I joined a local writers group which isn’t very active yet, but I have hopes it will be as time goes on.
For someone who suffers from bouts of social anxiety, a small club like a book club or a writers group has helped me take bigger steps to overcome mental obstacles. Even if the books aren’t always what I want to read, I look forward to our meetings every month. If you are looking for ideas to connect with people check out www.meetup.com, I have found a few writers groups on there that meet weekly or monthly. Also, Facebook has some online and local groups to connect with, I have joined several writer’s groups, though most of them are not local.
Maybe you aren’t in my situation. I fear those I don’t know due to lack of self-confidence which is blown out of proportion by my overactive thinking process. Some people don’t seek out other’s, but there is something in me that makes me want to talk to people and be around them. I like to connect with others; I need it to feel grounded. Even though this is more apparent with being a stay home parent and having little adult contact throughout the week, I have always sought out social situations, even though they terrify me under certain circumstances.