If you read my last post, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of large groups, whether they be social gatherings or work related meetings. It’s a challenge for me to enter a group setting because of my social anxiety that comes from a place of needing to feel accepted. I know this now because I talked to my psychologist about it (I can’t take credit for coming up with that on my own).
I guess this anxiety comes from always feeling like an outsider when I was growing up. I was called “weird” a lot and it made me feel anything but normal, like every middle school kid ever. But that feeling of being seen as different stuck with me. I know part of it came from being very quiet as a kid. People think you’re weird if you’d rather keep to yourself than join in a conversation. There’s some stigma around people who prefer solitude over socializing. Although with things like JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out – I hear it’s a thing now), that’s starting to change. Either way, the feeling of being perceived as weird is what often keeps me from talking to people. However, my psychologist encouraged me to “embrace the weird”. He said I shouldn’t care so much about what people think about me and it’s ok to be weird. I know he’s right, but easier said than done.
As I was talking to him about all this, he encouraged me to challenge myself to do more social things, like talk to people or at least stand in a room with them. I thought of them as ‘mini challenges’. So I started to think about other mini challenges I could do and here’s what I came up with, including how realistic my attempt will be:
- Make small talk with my bike neighbor at SoulCycle (highly unlikely)
- Talk to one new person at a party in two weeks (likely)
- Don’t hide behind my husband at the next family gathering (very likely – he usually disappears within 5 minutes of arriving)
- Make small talk with a coworker whilst getting coffee (somewhat likely)
- Say good morning and smile at coworkers I don’t know (likely)
- Make small talk with someone in a random scenario, like the subway, a coffee shop, etc. (highly unlikely – I live in New York and we pride ourselves on avoiding this sort of interaction)
- Not feel super awkward making eye contact with someone in the bathroom (unlikely)
- Strike up a conversation during a pause at a family dinner next weekend (somewhat likely)
- Remember that it’s ok to be weird (very likely)
Well next week I have another big meeting on Monday, and this time I’m going to go. Well, I’m going to try to go. I’ll do my best, so stay tuned!
What kinds of mini challenges can you put yourself up to? Leave your responses in the comments, I’d love to read them!