Wednesday Wisdom: Anxiety & Making Friends | Seersucker Sass

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom: Anxiety & Making Friends

In August, my "Wednesday Wisdom" posts are going to be less about advice and more about lessons that I've learned in life or things that I have struggled with.  Bloggers get a really bad rap for only posting about the positives in their lives, so I'm pushing myself to open up and talk about "the hard stuff" with y'all.  I was going to title this post "My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like an A**hole," but I didn't think that profanity in a blog post title was very becoming.



Let me give you some backstory on my life.  Growing up, books were pretty much my only friends. My grandmother was a librarian, and she taught me to read a full year before Kindergarten.  In elementary school, I would usually go to a different grade level for reading classes or my teachers would let me work through the big "classroom readers" during group reading.  I went to a K-8 school, so once I got that "weird, smart girl" label, I was stuck with it.  When most of the girls I knew were really into boys and starting to go on dates, I was really into dance and fashion, and I really wanted to go to a performing arts high school.  In seventh grade, I actually made a friend!  She transferred in from a neighboring county, was super popular, and really took me under her wing.  But she never came back after Christmas break, and I was devastated.  (And also made fun of for not knowing that my "best friend" had transferred schools.)  Dance was also a struggle, because I traveled almost an hour to take lessons, and all of the other girls went to school together.

High school was better for me.  Instead of going to the school that my K-8 fed into, I went to a school on the opposite end of the county.  I joined the dance team, and I not only excelled, but I made friends.  And then I got to college and joined a sorority.  Boom!  Instant friends!

One thing I realized about post-grad life was that a lot of the friends I made had been "situational."  I wasn't really good at making friends, but high school and college had afforded me opportunities to make friends.  It was easy to ask a girl on dance team if she wanted to go get Mexican food after practice or ask a sorority sister if she wanted to go to the library with me after Chapter.  It wasn't so easy to meet people after graduation, and it was even harder to stay in touch with them after the networking event/ young professionals event/ co-workers birthday party that I met them through.  I also realized that through my job, I knew a lot of people, but I didn't know a lot of people.

I had one of my moments where I felt like "middle school me" at the beginning of the year.  I was appointed to a board, and I was psyched.  But when I got to the meeting, I realized that I knew a lot of people, but again, I didn't know them.  So I sat by myself, awkwardly played with my phone, and felt like everyone was judging me for being a loser.  Until the then President of Junior League yelled across the room for me to come sit with her.  Joining Junior League has been a goal of mine since I was about 20 years old, and when she talked to me about becoming a Provisional, I was on Cloud Nine.  Like, I'm pretty sure I started glowing and sunshine was shooting out of my pores.

And then here comes the moment where my anxiety makes me feel like an asshole.  About a month ago, I went to an Open House for Junior League.  I realized I knew more people than I thought I knew, and I felt pretty comfortable.  And the President complimented me on my new job and how I was recruited in front of the table, and I was so giddy that felt like I had just gotten to be the Line Leader in Elementary School.  But then there were women at my table who knew no one, or who were there with friends that were trying to introduce them to people... and I acknowledged none of them.  Me, the girl who spent the first 13 years of her life with so few friends that I could count them on one hand, the girl that ate lunch with a book or with one of the special education aides.  And I felt like the biggest bitch in the world, because I knew what it was like to be at something alone, and I could have been inviting, but I wasn't.

Why didn't I say something?  Anxiety.  I couldn't figure out what to say in the moment.  Instead of being like "Hi, my name is blah blah.  Are you a provisional, too?"  or "I heard you say you were in the orchestra, what instrument do you play?"  I sat with my back turned to everyone and talked to my friends.

So, I'm setting a new goal for myself, which is to -gasp- sit by someone I don't know at tomorrow's Provisional meeting.  I know that my anxiety can make me look standoffish, and my resting mean face does not help.  My biggest reason for joining Junior League is to grow as a person, and I'm going to use it as an opportunity to push myself out of my shell. I really want to be the type of person that makes everyone feel comfortable and at ease, and not so much the girl who sits and reads a blog post on her phone because she doesn't want to make eye contact with new people.  (#callingmyselfout)

If you have anxiety about making friends like I do, I want to share a list of three tips that I hope will help you in social situations.  Knowing that I would be attending that meeting tomorrow, I brainstormed a few things that I thought would be helpful.

  1. Introduce yourself.  Seriously, just walk up to someone and say "Hi, I'm (name), and I just wanted to introduce myself!"  Harmless.  When they tell you who they are, take it as an opportunity to ask where they work, what they're excited about with the organization, how long have they been involved, etc.  People love to talk about themselves.  Listen!
  2. Give a compliment.  Compliments are an easy way to break the ice.  And think about it, don't you instantly get a warm feeling about someone when they say something nice to you?
  3. Set a goal.  My goal for tomorrow is to sit next to someone that I don't know.  Your goal could be to leave a networking event with at least three cards.  (My goal after leaving Savannah was to practice smiling every day, because I naturally have an unpleasant look on my face, and I really think it killed our chances  with the bachelor parties.)


And if you don't have anxiety about making friends, I would love for you to leave a comment with a little piece of advice for those of us that do!  Y'all are so wise, and I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

Do you have social anxiety or are you more of a social butterfly?

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

XX,

SS


24 comments:

  1. I honestly had no idea what Junior League was... I had to look it up after reading this post! Sounds super awesome. I'd definitely say I'm a mix of both shy and outgoing when it comes to meeting new people. It all depends on the environment I'm in and how old the people are. If I'm in a room with others who are my age, it's a lot easier for me to introduce myself and strike up a conversation. However, if the people are older than me I tend to become an introvert. Thanks for sharing a "hard stuff" story <3 XOXO

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

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  2. Thanks for writing about this! I definitely understand your anxiety. I've had it since I was little too and it's always so hard to reach out to people. I'm so glad you're going to push yourself to sit by someone new! Hopefully this year I'll be able to push myself to meet more people too!

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  3. Your posts are always so inspirational and beautifully written! I am interested in joining Junior League, but I'm terrified of going alone!! This post has encouraged me to go for it!

    Nicole

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  4. I definitely have anxiety with making new friends. This definitely helped! Giving compliments is a great way to create a conversation.

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.

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  5. I find that when you compliment someone it can open up a great conversation! I love that!
    Great post

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  6. I really enjoyed reading this post and feel like I can relate on so many levels. I have a really difficult time making friends (I am NOT outgoing, at all) so events like the meeting for junior league you referenced really overwhelm me. It's really inspiring that you are stepping outside of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to welcome new people. I love that!

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  7. I am just terrible at making new friends because I am really shy at first...but once I get over the shyness factor, I am a completely chatterbox. I'd love to join Junior League someday and continue to step out of my shell and meet new people.

    xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys

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  8. First off- don't be too hard on yourself!! If you know that you can get anxiety in some situations, don't feel guilty or like a jerk for not reaching out in all situations. It's awesome that you're making it a goal to try more!

    Generally I am/was a very friendly and outgoing person, but in situations where I feel uncomfortable I shut-down quickly (aka all of high school). Throughout college I keep gaining more and more of my confidence back though!

    xoxo A
    www.southernbelleintraining.com

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  9. Those are such great tips. It can be so hard to walk into a room where you don't know anyone. Regardless of whether you're introverted or extroverted. I have been to countless networking events and I still get nervous. I do the same thing as you in a lot of ways. I've found that having a goal of learning about people's careers to see if they'd be a good fit for my career profile series is so helpful. Also compliments always work :)

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  10. I was the same way all the way through middle school! I still feel like that every once in awhile.
    Don't be too hard on yourself! I'm really shy at first, then I'm like really talkative! I've learned that I should start like that right away! These are great tips!
    Also what a brave post!
    xoxo

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  11. I have absolutely felt this way! As a fellow introvert, I struggle with cracking my own shell in situations like this. I try to remember that you will never gain if you don't risk losing something (in this case your pride or comfort zone may be at risk). You never know if that new person with be your next best friend!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Thanks for writing this post - I definitely feel similar. Part of the way I describe myself is an extroverted introvert because I like talking to people, but oftentimes it's really hard to put yourself in position to take that first step. I've been working on it though! I've been pushing myself to actually tell someone the compliment I think in my head and it's helped a lot.
    xx, Mikkaela
    The Southwestern Prepster

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  13. I have really bad anxiety too and it makes me feel rude sometimes because I do the same things but don't worry, we know you aren't a bitch! Make it up tomorrow and I'm sure those girls will be SO happy. I was always the girl alone or who had friends that I didn't really know too well. Even now it's hard for me to make good friends!
    Lauren
    The Fashionista's Diary

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  14. Beautiful post. It's great that you opened up and branched outside of blogging about just positive things. As an introvert I can totally relate to this anxiety and moving to a new city soon is only about to make things worse.

    Great tips!

    xoxo Alexis @
    alexis-reliford.com

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  15. Well written post!! I also feel similar while making new friends. Great tips shared!!

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  16. This post definitely hits home! I get really nervous when I'm put in a situation where I don't know a lot of people, and one of my goals is to open up too.

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  17. I think more people are bad at making friends than we think! I mean its easy to make friends in Kindergarten, but when you're in your twenties--it's a lot harder!

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  18. I've always been pretty outgoing, so I never knew what it was like to have anxiety about meeting new people and how challenging it could be to branch out. Thank you for this perspective!

    xo, Alicia | Alicia Tenise

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  19. I think that first of all it is super great that you even realized that you were being an asshole. Because a lot of people aren't able to self reflect and realize that they were acting like one. Second of all, I love to do this at events as well. Even if I don't know anyone and feel like a weird loser lurking in a corner, I know that there are 100% other people feeling the same way that I do. So I always try to push past this feeling and reach out to someone!

    XOXO
    Marie H.
    Progression By Design

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  20. I applaud you for realizing you messed up and for openly making a vow to do something different in similar future situations! MAJOR props to you, girlfriend. That's awesome.

    Coming Up Roses

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  21. Such a great goal to make an effort to talk to people you don't know!! I really need to do the same thing AND control my incessant blabbering at parties haha (nervous talker lol)!

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  22. I have such terrible anxiety - and my readers don't really see that because I get to hide behind a computer screen! I definitely need to work on trying to make some friends this year!

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  23. I totally understand where you're coming from! After years of taking books as my only friends and then having real friends who talk to me, I find it hard to communicate with new people. It's because my friends know how I am and are the chatty types, so don't mind if I just nod at them throughout a conversation! When I go out to places on my own, I have to be someone totally different or sometimes I get so anxious, I retreat and others think it's because I'm 'stuck-up' or being 'bitchy'. It's really not, I just can't be free with others so easily!

    Pop over to my blog!

    Sarah
    https://everydayconcepts.wordpress.com

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  24. I needed to read this, since I'm so much like you in that I have such a hard time making friends. It didn't make sense to me, because in high school and for the early part of my college career I had tons of friends-situational friends. Now I have to work harder, but it'll be worth it :)


    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

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