- August 19, 2014 in Columnists
Let’s not suck, Part II
Social situations scare me. All of them. Just the thought of going out and meeting someone makes my stomach turn and my hands shake. It’s so strange — the majority of my life involves doing just that, but thinking about it makes my stomach turn.
Life can be scary. In my column, “Let’s stop sucking,” I addressed suicide and the ever-growing reclusiveness that my generation specifically has adopted as human nature. After some thought and discussion with my sister, I realized that there’s something I didn’t address: effort.
I have a talent for finding ways to avoid interactions with people. I’m not talking about just avoiding going out in public; I’m talking about being out and surrounded by people and still avoiding contact. Even little interactions with others, no matter how small or harmless they may be, make me so inexplicably nervous that I’ve mastered how to prevent them from happening.
Do you know what happens when you go through your days without talking to anyone aside from maybe family members on the phone? Eventually, you get lonely. Yup, the big “L” word. It’s not fun to talk about, and being the shy, reclusive person that I am, who does thoroughly enjoy having alone time, I don’t even admit it often, but it happens.
“Oh, you’re pretty,” they say, “you’ve got so much going for you, I bet you get asked out all of the time!” NO. Sure, I get stared at a lot. Usually I take it as I have some unsightly mark on my face like mustard on my cheek or something, but it’s entirely possible I could be getting stared at for other reasons.
Anyway, that whole thing about being pretty and getting asked out on dates all of the time isn’t a thing at all. That doesn’t happen. It got to the point where I was so tired of hearing how many dates I get asked out on (which doesn’t actually occur), that I started to wonder why the hell don’t I get asked out as much as everyone seems to think I should?!
Well, when you spend your days avoiding contact with people, looking down, dodging eyes, and playing on your phone when you’re in public, you 100 percent prevent contact with others, including that of the romantic caliber… shocking, I know.
I noticed myself getting frustrated — frustrated that people just assume that because I’m “pretty” that I get asked out on dates all of the time, and frustrated because I was the one putting up walls around me everywhere I went out of unjustified fear.
I’ve been through the public education system, I spent five years in college, and I’ve held multiple customer service type jobs. Surely I know how to talk to people, I’ve just always been afraid to. I was afraid of awkwardness, rejection and even having to reject; all of those things sounded, and still sound, so unpleasant! However, in avoiding my irrational fears, I also came across as impolite, unaware and closed off, which was never what I intended.
So, after talking to my sister about my previous column, I realized that the only solution I offered to “loneliness” was for society as a whole to be better to one another. Obviously easier said than done, but there’s also something that can be done on the individual level. We (those who feel lonely) can make an effort — we can take the leap and put ourselves into social situations! For me, going to coffee shops and writing there rather than in my room was my first step.
I threw myself into this environment and made myself vulnerable. I gave and received compliments, sparked conversations off of books, talked about weather, and even smiled back at people, which also usually helped spark a conversation. These things that I was so afraid to do turned out to be completely harmless! Of course, not everyone wanted to chat, and not everyone smiled back at me, but the fact that I took the effort to break out of my shell made me very happy.
At 24, I like to think of myself as fearless, with nothing but opportunity surrounding my every step. That’s difficult to do when you’re apprehensive about everyone around you. I noticed this, I made an effort, I took action. I took action to improve my own life — something that I feel a lot of people my age have forgotten to do with all of the “relationships” and social media we try and keep up these days.
It’s very important to take care of yourself. I suggest to anyone who is lonely or feeling secluded to go out and put yourself into a social situation. Let yourself be vulnerable. Not everyone will want to be your best friend, but it’s the only way to invite social interaction.
- August 20, 2014 at 10:37 pm