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Hard to make friends

Discussion in 'General Support and Advice' started by DreamSky83, Dec 29, 2018.

  1. DreamSky83

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    I've been shy all my life and I think this is why it's hard to get into a relationship or even find friends to hang out with or be friend. I'm not sure what to do. I'm so shy and this is something I never out grew. Feel stuck and I'm very frustrated with myself. Please give me some helpful advice. Thank you! :slight_smile:
     
  2. LaneyM

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    Many, many people feel the same (including me). We live in a society that rewards extroverts, so I think we all try to act a bit more outgoing than we may feel. If you like reading about this kind of thing, there's a book called Quiet by Susan Cain about being introspective/shy in modern society, I thought it was very good.

    In my experience, therapy helped with the social anxiety aspect. I used to faint if I got overwhelmed, got panic attacks, practiced a lot of avoidance, and found it hard to leave the house. But I work with people for a living now, it isn't always easy but I'm happy I had the courage to do what I really wanted to do. It's also helped to pursue activities that are interesting to me-I'm more likely to overcome the shyness if I really enjoy something-and be honest about yourself. I was working with a group for class and we ended up talking about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They were really surprised that I knew so much about it so I explained that I'd been in therapy for anxiety. Now I probably wouldn't just tell everyone I meet, but it was in context and was a group of people I trusted (future therapists), so it felt nice to be open about my vulnerabilities and feel their support in return.

    And you'll always have support here. Write on my profile if you ever want to talk, I know how tough it can be!
     
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  3. tystnad

    tystnad Guest

    hey dreamsky83!

    i feel you - i used to be extremely shy (and deep into some social anxiety issues) and i know how hard it can seem to try and overcome that. sometimes it feels like being good at social interaction is something that some people are born with and others are not.... but that’s not necessarily the case. sure, some people are more extroverted than others, but overcoming shyness (at least to a point where it means we can be comfortable - nothing wrong with being a little shy!) is fortunately quite possible! I’d recommend you to think in small steps, and cut your goal of “becoming less shy” into some smaller ones that feel much more achievable. for example, challenge yourself to do small things outside of your comfort zone. something that is a little scary but, if you’re realistic, not unachievable. for me, the first goal i remember having is talking to someone in a swimming class i took: i didn’t set the goal of making friends, or being super social, but just trying to initiate a conversation with someone. just a “hey, what’s your name” really was enough for me to meet my goal. and that seems like a very small goal, but if you build things up slowly it’ll actually lead to some of that shyness fading. and you can build up from those goals: for example, i would slowly increase it to asking a classmate to meet for lunch, then attending events alone and talking to an increasingly large number of strangers, etc. Always a goal that was realistically achievable at that point but at the same time outside of my comfort zone so i’d be forced to push past that shyness a little. many many small steps eventually lead to large process, whereas setting goals that are too big for you (and which you end up failing as a result) will just be very demovating.

    also, a good lesson i learned along the way: make sure to celebrate every single step you make, even if afterwards you feel silly for not daring to do it before - things always seem easier afterwards, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proud of doing it anyway!
     
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  4. Disarray

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    Hey, I just want to say that I relate completely. I've been a shy, quiet person all my life and developed severe social anxiety as a teenager, which manifested as avoidance and shutting myself out from people. It was especially bad from the ages of 15-18, where I was essentially a shut-in and hardly went to school. I'm 22 now and about to graduate with my Bachelor's degree, and if you asked me at 16/17 if I thought that were possible, I probably would've laughed at how ridiculous that was given how bad my anxiety was at the time. I still deal with social anxiety but it's more manageable now.

    I think what helped me the most was forcing myself to do small things, whether it be ordering a coffee or food in-person, forcing myself to interact with cashiers. That might sound like the bar was set pretty low, but that was something that honestly gave me anxiety attacks back in the day. It doesn't bother me nearly as much anymore. I also applied this mentality to other things, like shopping, going to class, etc.

    Another really helpful tool for me were beta blockers prescribed to me to use during "emergency situations", like if I felt like I were to have a panic attack or be put into an anxiety-provoking situation. I know long-term medication can be helpful for others, too. Some people are hesitant about medication but I think it's a viable option to consider.

    I know this was relating more with shyness in regard to developing friendships, but I figured the aforementioned could be applicable. It is difficult to meet people and make friends, and I honestly think social media can be a double-edged sword here; sure, it's easier to be exposed to new people or 'connect' with them, but it doesn't replace IRL friends or developing deep relationships with people. I'm working myself to rely less on the internet for social interaction, since I know it's taken a toll on me and hasn't helped me with developing friendships offline. I think the biggest thing that's helped me for making friends has been involving myself in groups, whether it be in school (if you're in college these are good things to consider,) and also working. I found a job that is relevant to my interests and my coworkers and I click really well, so I know I definitely lucked out in that aspect but it helped me develop my social circle. I also have worked on inviting my coworkers out - like asking them if they want to get coffee or tea together, and slowly but surely it helped me become closer with them.

    Another thing to keep in mind: It's totally OK to be shy, introverted, anxious - I think a lot of the time it's easy to become fixated on trying to eliminate these traits completely, or work on going from being an introvert to an outgoing extrovert, which will only lead to frustration/disappointment. I know I'm shy, and I'll always be an anxious person, but I can be with people who can respect and understand where I'm coming from and practice patience with me. The best people will understand that. If I have to alter myself around someone, then they aren't a person I wan't to be around.

    I don't have a quick fix solution but I hope there's something you get out of this, even if a small tidbit. Feel free to PM/reach out to me if you'd like; I'm dealing with loneliness right now with it being the holidays and all which can be a tough time and I understand. Best of luck.
     
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  5. LittleLamb

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    I can also relate to you. I'm in my early 30s and I've been shy my whole life and I have the worst time making friends. The last time I had an actual friend was back in 2003. Being in my 30s and having social anxiety makes it a whole lot harder. I've been rejected a lot this past year alone and it's the worst, I'm not talking about dating. I have a hard time befriending people because I always feel like people don't like me (online I feel like people think I'm a troll) or I don't have any common interests, I honestly feel so left out of the lesbian community because I don't check any of the marks that others do, which I know is stupid but when it seems like every woman is a vegan who plays sports, owns a cat and thinks Carol is the greatest movie ever I feel so left out. Literally the only thing I 'check' is I don't like men. Or they have common interests but they are a lot younger than me and I get weirded out taking to younger women, which I shouldn't if they aren't a minor but I don't know why it's this way with me. Anyway I didn't mean to rattle on and if what I wrote isn't good advice just ignore it. I just wanted to say I don't have any success tips for you but I do hope that you are able to find at least one person that wants to be your friend. Personally, I believe everyone (unless they just don't want any friends) should have one person in their life that cares about them.
     
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