Socially, I feel pretty inept these days. The last time I felt truly socially successful was at sixth form college. That’s, oh god… that’s 17 years ago!
I’m not a social outcast or anything. I don’t think… (am I)? I just err on the shy side, which I suspect makes me come across quite cool and aloof. If somebody pretty confident engages me in conversation I’m generally quite chatty, but struggle to take the lead in conversations with new people. This means I really struggle with shyer people like myself. I suspect I’ve missed out on some great friendships by not being able to talk to these people.
My last BFF moved away a few years ago (we’re still in touch, but she lives too far to be part of my social scene). And because I’m married and have a lovely husband to spend time with, I suppose I’ve found it a little too easy to rest on my laurels when it comes to making new friends. I have just one good friend now that I meet up with every couple of weeks for a good gossip.
Because I do salsa twice a week, I feel generally quite busy and sociable but the fact that I’m a teacher’s assistant and can dance pretty well (hey, I’ve been doing it 9 years) does nothing to dispel that cool and aloof vibe I unintentionally project. I probably come across as completely up myself. At salsa I watch people form friendships and social groups all around me, yet I’ve only ever formed two friendships on the salsa scene. One took YEARS to progress beyond the salsa nights and the other died a death due to, erm, differing expectations of friendship (story for another time perhaps).
I’m always deeply impressed (and a touch envious) of people who make friends easily. I find it tricky and not just a little terrifying. However, both this NY resolution and its accompanying blog were founded in ambitions of self-improvement and busting out of comfort zones. As intimidating as putting myself out there might be, it’s got this blog written all over it and so must be at least attempted. So I bring you… Social Feb.
Now I’ve had a social month on my ideas list from the start (though was very tempted to put it off until later in the year) and have actually done a bit of prep. Yes, I read that old classic How to Make Friends and Influence People in a bid to hone my ailing social skills. Embarrassing much? Yep! I’m cringing as a I type. Why in hell’s name am I admitting this? So you can fully appreciate exactly what my starting point is. I really bloody hope the finishing point is a shade less cringeworthy.
So, I’ve read the book and this month is about putting it’s advice into action. And to help myself rise to the challenge and push myself right out of my comfort zone, I’m setting myself a series of challenges:
1. Say yes to an invitation (or even more than one – gasp!) that I would usually turn down.
2. Talk to one person (or more) per week that I don’t usually talk to.
3. Progress one casual work friendship and one salsa friendship outside of their respective environments.
The toughest aspect of this is the emotional risks I’ll be taking. To make this work, I’ll have to take the initiative a bit; be the inviter rather than the invitee, open myself up to potential rejection. *shudder*
btw, if anybody ever does read this, suggestions for other social challenges and ways of expanding my social circle would be gratefully received. Scary as it is, I do want Social Feb to yield results.