To all my fellow introverted readers, i’m sure you can relate that it can feel pretty difficult to make new friends. Whether it be how to initially connect with people, or maybe it’s harder for you to keep the momentum once you’ve opened yourself up to someone. I’ll be discussing my thoughts on how to cultivate new friendships when you don’t know where to start.
First off, human connection is something all of us need in order to have a healthy, long life. Yes, it has been scientifically proven that human connection helps you live longer. For all of you reading this that are saying, “I don’t need to live longer if it means I have to get out of my comfort zone”. Get over yourself. In the nicest of ways. Get over yourself. We have all had some friendship in our lives that didn’t take that much effort to get or maintain. That was probably a friendship that was convenient at the time. Maybe it was someone you met at work, or someone whom you grew up with, etc. Well the greatest of friendships won’t always come to us that easily. If you’re sitting around waiting for people to come to you, than you may be waiting a long time. I am not one that needs a lot of friends to be happy, but imagine if we all took ourselves out of our comfort zones more than once a year to have coffee with someone new. Think about it.
Meeting someone new isn’t easy for a lot of us. There are those rare breeds out there that just radiate confidence in every social scenario possible, and lets be honest, those people are the worst. Meeting someone new for me is overthinking the interaction before it’s even happening. The plans to meet have been made, and that alone was difficult, because commitment, ya know? So i’m sitting thinking, this person likes my instagram posts – where I try to be as real as possible- but what if i’m not who they thought I was, etc. What will I do when I see them? Will it be weird if we hug? Then I remind myself that i’m overthinking, and that leads to anxiety, and anxiety will make everything worse. What’s worked for me to combat my social anxiety is reminding myself that the other person/people may be just as uncomfortable/socially awkward as I am. It’s also only weird if you make it weird. Read body language. Don’t force conversation. Be yourself. Don’t fear what someone may think of you.
I consider myself an extroverted introvert. It wasn’t always this way. I was one that found conversations difficult, and still sometimes do. Unless it’s a conversation that I didn’t initially choose to participate in, than I shouldn’t be worrying so much. It would be my own fault for forcing myself into a conversation I didn’t think I could uphold. Working in the service industry has also played a huge role in getting me out of my shell. Which besides some of the friends i’ve made through all my service industry jobs, is the only thing I have to thank it for.
In today’s world where algorithms/hashtags/followers dictate, it’s very easy for us introverts to use social media as our buffer. It helps us reach new people without leaving the comfort of our home. We can receive a message from someone and we don’t need to respond immediately. We can take the time to plan out what we’re going to say back, etc. It’s not as exhausting as small talk. The empty calories of conversation. Nothing is more annoying to me than small talk. But then again, it can be used to our advantage as well. Us introverts can dissect new topics out of what the other said, or even find ways that we can relate to the other. Thus entering a deeper, more meaningful conversation.
I personally am at the point in my life where i’m married, babies are being considered, i’m focused on family, and making true connections that will last. I am not interested in going out drinking until the sun comes up. I am not interested in doing 90% of the things I found myself doing over the last 10 years. I am a wife, so my priorities have changed quite a bit. I am not interested in being selfish for my own benefits. I had those selfish years, where I was able to do some really dumb things. Now I am interested in vastly different things like sustainable fashion, bettering the world we live in, and one that I may bring a child into, and how to cultivate meaningful relationships that last, and with people that share these same interests as me.
In the process of finding myself, and what has made me my true self, I have lost many friends. My husband and I were actually discussing yesterday that the people that were closest to me over the last ten years, have all disappeared. This is a part of life. Those people I will adore always, but when life goes on, people change.
If tomorrow, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tinder went down, what would 98% of the world do? Think about it! What would you have to show for it? Do you have friends outside of your social media? Are you less important because you can no longer showcase your avocado toast you ate for breakfast? We need to not associate our worth with how many followers we have on social media. What it’s meant for, is to meet new people. So let us use this to our advantage while we still have it. Take yourself out of your comfort zone, grab coffee with someone who you think shares similar interests, and see how not scary it really is. Don’t wait for someone to come to you. Beauty does not come from staying within your comfort zone.