Do you find yourself tripping over your words and inanimate objects around you? Would you rather bolt for the door than meet someone new? If so, making friends can be a scary experience full of opportunities for embarrassment. But, along with that are the opportunities for amazing memories and friends. The good news is that you probably have some friends now so the first thing to keep in mind is that they were once strangers. If you could do it then, you can do it again. Yes, it seems scary putting yourself out there to new people. There is that vulnerability of the initial interaction and the chance for rejection. The only thing worse than rejection is never taking the opportunity in the first place. So, get your game face on and follow these five simple steps to get yourself out there:
1. Face your fear. Remember that the people you meet are also experiencing the same thing. They may also be a little scared to take the plunge to meet you. With that in mind, know you’re not alone in this. Everyone is a stranger until you get to know them, and if it doesn’t work out then you at least walk away knowing you are strong enough to take that leap.
2. Branch out. The best way to make friends is to get involved in things you enjoy since you’ll find a higher chance of finding someone with similar interests. Volunteer for a cause that is important to you or join a club. Look at meetup.com for local groups in your area. If you feel uncomfortable going alone, bring someone along to have as a support just as long as you still get out there and mingle with new faces.
3. Commit to it. Mark the date on your calendar. Set up an alarm. Talk about it to your family and current friends. Making it prominent will build up the anticipation for the event and it will also soothe your anxieties since you’ll get familiar with it and even look forward to the outing. If reminders are all around you, you are less likely to flake.
4. Embrace your awkward. So, you made it! Maybe you’ve already mispronounced someone’s name or are still glued to the wall. Regardless, just walk up to the next person and say “hello”. Make any awkward interaction into a joke or apologize and use it as a transition for a conversation topic, like how hard it is to remember names. Chances are, they can relate on some level and may even have the same awkwardness as you. Once you hit some common ground, you’ll feel yourself settling and making new friends.
5. Follow up. Okay, so you successfully went through the process of conquering your awkwardness and meeting people. That’s great! Now, this is crucial but you cannot forget to follow up with them. Add them on social media, get their number, or set up a date to meet again. It is important to do this sooner rather than later to keep the friendship developing rather than having to start all over again if too much time has elapsed in between.
With steps one through five done, you’ll be able to make friends regardless of how awkward you are. As a matter of fact, being awkward is a characteristic that makes you who you are. Yes, it makes it hard to network at times but it is part of what makes you your own individual and you should never let it hold you back. It’s only a small part of the limitless being that you are. Just remember you’re not the only one who is awkward and even if you slip up, it’s all about how you keep on going.
“If you stumble, make it part of the dance”- Author Unknown
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