Tonight I spent a little time at the local eagles club. They have great specials and I know a few people who hang out there most weeks. Tonight there were a bunch not there but I went with another friend but it was a great time because I’ve only been there 3 times but I knew a large group. In my post about learning to socialize I said go to the coffee shops, and of coarse I am saying hangout in coffee shops, pubs, bars, wherever you can sit with just a glass of water and not get hassled to leave because your not spending money. I did drop a few dollars on 50 cent tacos for my friend and I plus a few beers a piece. but it is great running into people you know. Now there are several things that went into this exchange from tonight, a few people I know from college 5 years ago. the friend I went there with and wife, one from a new years party two years ago who hangs out all the time at a place I volunteer at at least once if not three times a week from which there were a few others there. I had a great time, talking about mutual hobbies / volunteer work over cheap tacos and beers. That is what socializing is all about bringing together several of the tools to combat loneliness, What a great realization. Especially after that week.
There is an internet meme that floats around every once in a while about how crying doesn’t mean you are not strong but instead it means how you have been strong for too long. I’ve struggled with depression. I’ve been in therapy for years to learn how to manage it. But I still struggle. Sometimes a lot. I’m on meds, but the meds only take the edge off. They are not like flipping a switch where suddenly hey I never feel depressed again. The years of therapy have given me tools to use to help to fight the depression, tools to keep me moving when I am depressed and but sometimes I still just need to separate myself from everybody and just hide for a bit.
So this post started because I’ve gone through another depressive state. it was a little over two weeks in length. I want to blame some specific stuff that may be talked about in another post but it didn’t matter that I have the tools that I have. I was tired of using them. I needed a break from the social life I’m building. So that is what I did. I got addicted to a TV show on crackle.com binged on it. spent too much time playing browser games and barely had the energy and time to follow through on a few job postings and interviews, some of which probably had to do with a horrible diet.
The other day I was with a friend who was approaching this stage herself, and it really struck me. I never would have thought of her as being somebody who needed to do that. She has always appeared to the be a person who could endlessly socialize. She later told me that it happens to her every once in awhile and she just needs to find a corner to hide in and paint her toe nails or read some poetry. She has been dealing with this a lot longer than I have and can recognize it better than I can so she appears to be able to curb it before it gets to the point of disappearing for a week.
It’s not that the knowledge doesn’t help it’s that this is another tool that needs to be thought about and used. A person, every person needs alone time. I suddenly don’t know why this feels like a new idea to me. I ques it is just the relationship between the ideas of I’ve tried everything I can think of and I’m just going to choose a few unhealthy activities to get me through. The problem for me is often the unhealthy activities I choose end up resulting in a deeper and longer lasting depressed period. So, I need to develop better or more controllable escapes, and possibly need to schedule them. Did something like this happen in may?
Over the last few years while struggling to become a more social person I’ve learned a number of methods to being that social person. This post doesn’t talk about the skills for these methods. I am just listing them and elaborating with one or two sentences. But I don’t know if this is a complete list and I will occasionally revisit it. possibly changing the headings. This post will likely become a page each method a new category for my blog and an outline of my chapters. Most methods will take multiple posts to explain.
What I have listed are things I’ve gotten from the countless self-help books, other bloggers, therapy sessions; group and individual, or things I got from a few seminars on how to deal with people. They are things that before five years ago I would have never thought of and are things I have worked hard to practice. You will see as we progress through this list and the subsequent posts that some of these methods have many skills. Skills that often overlap. Each are important by themselves and will be talked about repeatedly. I must also tell you I write this not only to help readers but as a way of reminding myself. Reminding myself of these methods. What I can do after finding myself in another rut struggling to get out and struggling to staying afloat.
Volunteering is great because it gives you something to do, allows you to meet people and makes you feel good about yourself because you’re doing something to help the community; it increases you confidence.
2. Take a class-
Classes are great because you will learn a new skill or reinforce an existing one, it may increase your flexibility; physically and mentally, it may improve coordination and a class gets you into a situation to meet and interact with people you would never have thought of before it also increases your confidence.
3. Go to the library-
The library is a good place to go when you are just starting out or just need to be in the vicinity of people without interacting. The library is a good place to people watch or sit quietly on the computer, if your house is loud, you can sit in some corner and ignore everybody and nobody will think your weird, because half of them are there for a similar reason.
4. Join a club-
Clubs provide many things already covered. They give you a chance to interact with people who have similar interests, potentially teaches you a skill; like knitting, and it gives you something to look forward to in away an aerobics class can’t
5. Get a hobby-
Whether you spend 100’s on tools and build your sister a new rocking chair for her baby, put together a 75 gallon fish tank, or build a tent to go camping in next summer. Hobbies keep you busy, build confidence and can lead to new careers.
6. Go to the coffee shop-
Much like he library a coffee shop gives you a place to write on your laptop; some have computers for your use, or read a book. Though interacting is a little more likely because if you become a regular you may become friends with the staff or other regulars, giving you some excellent practice on the 30 second to minute conversations that are surprisingly huge in increasing your confidence.
7. Live authentically-
This is one of the harder things to do. This method of becoming a social person I can attribute to starting me down this path. This is one that has consumed the most of my last six years. One of the first things I worked on it is still one I struggle with the most. To be real you need to speak your mind, fallow through on what you say your going to do and don’t let others bring you down. This is your confidence.
8.Never allow yourself to feel trapped-
Feeling trapped will ruin you confidence. It will prevent you from seeking new friends. And if it hasn’t already alienated your existing friends it soon will.
9.Live on your own terms –
Your life is yours and you need to live it the way you want. Living your life the way others want you to will lead to regret, resentment and reclusiveness. Respect yourself. Trust yourself and live your own life not the one your parents want you to. If you are a parent and think you need to give up your dream for them just think about what that is teaching them.
10. Stay in the moment-
More than living authentically this has been and continues to be the most difficult thing for me to do. It is easy to dwell on the past to relive moments long since past. The problem is these moments good or bad are not now. They are not this minute and if you are thinking about a conversation where you said something less than intelligent or that time your ex beat the crap out of you, you will miss things. Things that are happening now and life will pass you by. I want to say so much about this, maybe it will be my next post.
11. Escape abuse-
The greatest confidence killer. Being told your job or career isn’t worthy, being verbally accosted or belittled with offensive terms or if someone has threatened you, your children, or even your pet dog is not acceptable behavior by a significant other, a roommate or even a friend. Get out of that situation.
12. Choose your friends wisely-
I touched on this in escaping abuse but it is related to living in the moment and so much more than that. A friend that isn’t abusive in anyway can still be bad for you. They can be somebody you like, but they get inside your head somehow. I’ve got a few friends. I love them dearly, but I just can’t spend time with them. Their current problems or the past problems they feel compelled to vent about are too closely related to something I’m experiencing or just got over, and their words drag me back down. Their words keep me from living in this moment. It is not their fault so don’t blame them. Just acknowledge it to your self and move on. It is hard at first, you might not have many friends and loosing one feels detrimental. Remember a good friend encourages you, keeps you in the now and needs you just as much as you need them.
Maybe you are only on a mission to read over ways of meeting people and will never read anything of mine again, in that case I hope you read what you need to, to remind yourself of your current goal, but if you subscribe you will get more lengthy explanations on each of these things, talking about and giving examples of how each of these methods have impacted my life. About how many have taken years to master, how I’ve had to learn some of them multiple times. How I have recovered I have remembered and implemented these methods and coinciding skills faster and faster each time. How even though I was greatly discouraged at times I stuck with them and have gotten better.
I used to try to be friends with everybody. If you were nice to me, I considered you a friend. I had a lot of them. Until I realized the hard way none were. I had low self confidence and felt I didn’t have a right to be picky. However as I’ve gained confidence I learned to be selective. I’m nice to nearly all people and will talk if I see even people I don’t like on the street, but that doesn’t mean we’re friends. The first few times I felt I had to not be friends with someone who wanted to be friends with me was hard. I think I cried about it. But they were not good for me. And it has gotten easier for two reasons I realize that is what everybody does and it’s your feelings not theirs that you need to worry about. I’ve also had people choose to not be my friend since I’ve been being selective and after giving up on a friend I now know why people do it. It’s not my fault, it’s theirs. Like wise when I realize I need to choose to not be close to someone it is because of me not them. This selection has won me real friends, a sense of belonging and an even higher self esteem.
Choose your friends, if you let them choose you, you don’t know what you’ll get.