Are you an introvert or extrovert? A mixture of both?
I used to class myself firmly in the introverted category, avoiding social situations where possible and finding myself feeling reluctant and awkward any time a situation required speaking real words to real people. Even now I find myself beating myself for saying X because no one laughed, or patting myself on the back when people seem genuinely interested in what I have to say.
I don’t think that talking to people with ease comes naturally to most people, and lots of us find it actively uncomfortable, but there are ways to make it less so, and maybe even enjoy it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay at home instead of go out and socialise (trust me), but as we head towards the Christmas season it might be helpful to try a few things in case you find yourself being dragged to a Christmas party where you know no one (events where I know no one still give me pretty bad anxiety).
Being an introvert is no bad thing, in fact it gives you qualities only someone who has spent a lot of time in their own company can have. But instead of finding yourself hiding in the loos (tick) or by the food counter shovelling food into your mouth so no one can talk to you (also tick), wouldn’t it be nice to get something from parties? Find a reason to enjoy them and relax? Here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful over the years – I still get anxious and socially awkward internally, but for the most part these tips have helped me enjoy almost all the events I go to, find new friends and have great conversations I would never have had if I had avoided people from the start.
This may seem a bit ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, but some evidence suggests that acting confident with your body language can actually make you feel more in control. Looking into people’s eyes is another thing that makes you appear confident, but this actually takes a lot of practise to get right if you’re not used to it. However, it can really help you connect with people and help them feel more at ease around you. Related to this is smiling – I can’t stop smiling now, it’s just a habit (and usually I’m pretty happy anyway). Everyone loves a smiley person. Everyone should do it more 🙂
Don’t worry what people think about you
This goes for anything – you shouldn’t spend your life thinking that you should/shouldn’t do X, Y or Z because people will like you more/less for it. It’s impossible to please everyone, and in trying you are putting yourself second. The only way to be able to make others happy is to also be happy and confident in yourself. Putting others first and worrying what people think all the time is unhealthy and can never lead to true happiness. Self-confidence needs to come from within, otherwise by definition it’s not really self-confidence. Life is too short to worry about wearing or doing something: just do it.
Find people you recognise
Finding people you recognise at the beginning of an event can help make you feel comfortable, but equally they can introduce you to people you would not otherwise have met. Anyone they introduce you to already has something in common with you – you both know your mutual friend, which is a good starting point! I also often think of parties a little bit like networking opportunities – new people you meet could be friends or business partners in the future. It may seem a weird way of looking at it, but for me that gives a focus for the party. Meet people, enjoy good conversation and network at the same time.
Wear clothes you feel comfortable in
This is important both physically and mentally. I used to try to wear ‘in fashion’ whatever, but quite frankly I couldn’t care less what’s in fashion now. I love clothes and I think they’re great for self-expression, but trying to impress people with clothes, when secretly you’re dying because you can’t breathe or you feel worried your left boob is going to pop out of your new top any second, is not cool. Wear clothes you love (yay sports clothes!) and own it.
This may seem like a bit of a random post for my blog, and I wasn’t sure about doing it. However, a few years ago it was just the sort of thing I wish someone had helped me with, especially in the run up to Christmas, and if I can’t be honest on my blog, where can I be? If this helps just one or two people be more confident this year, then it’s done its job. Just remember, you are enough as you are, you don’t need to impress anyone (seriously), and you should do what makes you happy. You do you.