Social interactions are fine and sometimes even fun… in moderation. There are times when I feel like seeing and talking with other people but I hate being FORCED to socialize.
Sure, if there is some pressing reason that you need to be social then you can push through and deal with it but being forced into these situations is frustrating. Extroverts have a hard time understanding why people like you and me don’t always want to be around other people. It is a foreign world view to them.
But as an introvert, you will be far more comfortable if you are selective with your social engagements. It will depend on the location of the event, the people who will be there, your current mood, and other factors.
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Why do I hate interacting with others?
It’s not everyone, and it’s not all the time. There are circumstances when talking with other people seems like a great time. But it is highly dependent on the details. Will these be people I barely know, or even worse, people I do know and have no interest in?
Will I be stuck having inane banter about pointless topics such as the weather or sports? I’d rather sit alone, thanks. But if we can skip the painful pleasantries and talk about something more interesting then I’m much more likely to be tempted to attend the social meetup.
The shallow socializing is a complete turn-off. I can’t stand the shallow talk for more than a few seconds before I find an excuse to get away from the conversation. I know that it is considered normal to talk about nonsense that neither person cares about but it just doesn’t work for me. I need more substance to a discussion other than “How are you?” and “What do you do for a living?”
These surface-level interactions with typical small talk are one of the big reasons that I avoid unnecessary social events. There is just no substance.
Should I force myself to be social?
Yes and no. If you have a job or career that requires you to attend some social meetings then you’ll have to push through and deal with the discomfort. But if you are being forced to interact with people on a more personal level, such as at a party or even just hanging out with friends, then it is okay to say no.
If you do decide to join a work social party then you can just pretend to be a happy little socializer for a bit and make an early exit once you’ve shown your face and people know that you were there. Or if you have a close friend that you like talking to, spend most of your time with them.
Similarly with the non-work event. This is easier to avoid but if you do decide to join, you can still make an early exit whenever you want. I recommend using The Irish Goodbye.
The Irish Goodbye AKA The Irish Exit AKA The French Exit
These are all the same, just different names. In a situation where you need to leave a social event early, just leave. No saying goodbyes or announcing your departure, just leave.
This avoids awkward conversations about why you are leaving so early. It’s quick and painless. My favorite way to do this is to wait until I think everyone will be distracted by something else and then I just slip out of the party without anyone knowing.
It’s not rude. It is a technique that lets you leave an event without making a big show out of it. It is a fairly common social convention and you won’t be the only one doing it.
Handling social interactions that you decide to attend
Eventually, you will have to go to some kind of social activity. Whether work-related, a friend’s wedding, a family holiday, or an event that you actually do want to go to. It is important that you know how to handle yourself. Going in with a rough plan will minimize any social anxiety that you may have.
I prefer to have my own transportation whenever I go to a social event. This way I can leave whenever I want without relying on other people. But if you don’t have your own transport, make sure that whoever you ride with is in agreement that whenever you are ready to leave, they will leave with you. This alone will reduce the social anxiety because at least you know you won’t be stuck there longer than you want to be.
Skip the small talk and jump right into an interesting conversation. And it doesn’t have to be anything serious. It can even be something ridiculous or funny. As long as it isn’t that mundane, dull, nonsense that most people discuss while at a social event. If the people you are trying to talk with aren’t interested, move on to someone else. Not everyone will be your cup of tea so don’t take it personally.
Don’t feel like you have to be an extrovert at the party. It is better to be authentic and honest when interacting with people. If you’re not a natural socializer, don’t pretend to be one. Your extroverted friends don’t expect you to be exactly like them. They may be social creatures but you don’t have to pretend to have the same social life as they do.
Your tolerance for other people will vary depending on a lot of factors so be aware of your mental state. You don’t want to overstay until your social batteries are completely drained and you feel too uncomfortable. This is where having your own transportation can really help you. When you have had your fill of social excitement, you can use your Irish Goodbye technique and make a stealthy exit.
Sometimes being social has its benefits
You know you can’t be a reclusive hermit all the time. Making the effort to be a part of society does have some benefits. There is always the chance that you meet a new person that you click with. It could be a new friend or maybe even something romantic. But you’ll never have the opportunity if you refuse to meet people and be social from time to time.
It is good to get out of your comfort zone and get comfortable being uncomfortable. The only way to overcome issues such as shyness is to step out of your comfort zone and practice talking to people. It can be scary at first but it gets easier quickly with a bit of experience. Don’t try to hide who you are even if you aren’t sure how your personality type will be received. Developing social skills takes practice but the payoff is worth it. Knowing that you can handle social settings is a useful skill and can improve low self-esteem.
There is a balance you’ll need to find. Developing social skills is crucial to living a balanced happy life. Spending time with friends and dating will help you keep a healthy perspective on life. Meeting new people will give you more ideas and different perspectives. Talking with good people can help to challenge your own ideas and views too.
You won’t click with everyone you meet and talk to but it is still worth the effort and time to meet new people. Sometimes you get lucky and meet someone that will change your life for the better. Sometimes you have to meet a lot of people before you find one that you mesh well with. If needed, use the prospect of making a new great friend or potential girlfriend as motivation to get out there and be more social. Just get out there and give people a chance sometimes and you just might meet someone who will make your life more interesting.