One of my goals this year is to socialize more. For many this is a no-brainer, but for me it takes a concerted effort. As with many people who are introverts, I gain my energy from solitude, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a desire to socialize and be around others. So these are rules I have for myself so I can meet my social wellness goal.
- Build and maintain relationships. I’ve learned not to be so quick to reject an invitation. My natural instinct is to just say “No” and stay home with my books and my dog. However, I understand the importance of building and maintaining relationships. People stopped inviting me out because they already knew my response. Now I try to hang out with friends at least once or twice a week. Sometimes it’s food and drinks. Sometimes it’s volunteering within the community. Slowly, I am building and rebuilding relationships with people who are important to me.
- Be open to new opportunities. The bonus part of hanging out with friends is I never know who else I may meet or what else may transpire. By hanging out with different people, I met interesting people doing interesting things in life. Occasionally, I’ve needed to reach out to these people for assistance, which caused me to be doubly grateful for knowing them. Career opportunities have also become available simply because I had drinks with someone who knew someone, or I attended a function and had a conversation. Additionally, new opportunities bring new memories. Within the last few weeks I’ve agreed to attend a dance workout class, attend a Black film festival, and be involved in some community outreach programs. Of these three, the dance workout class brings me the most anxiety. I have declined this invite several times over the past few months. This time I said “Yes”. Who knows the memories I will create with this experience or the wonderful people I will meet.
- Pay in advance. I have learned that if I say I will attend an event but I haven’t paid, I’m probably going to back out. It’s nothing personal, and I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but for me the anticipation of attending brings anxiety. By the time it is time for me to go, I’d rather to stay home with the aforementioned books and dog. To combat this, I have started to pay for functions as soon as I decide to go. I’m frugal and don’t like wasting money. Therefore, if my money is there so am I. This is how I will make that dance class. As soon as I told myself to just try it (I have absolutely no rhythm) I paid for it. Had I not, I would have back out less than 24 hours later.
- Have extroverted friends. I have extroverted friends who understand I am an introvert. I like hanging with them because in a social setting they are able to divert attention away from me and towards them or something else going on. This allows me to safely socialize, and be an observer within the circle instead of an actor. Because my extroverted friends know me, the likelihood of an awkward social moment is decreased, as they tend to step in when needed.
- Have introverted friends. Introverted friends are the best. We want to socialize but not too much and with very few people. So we hang at the house and have dinner, or go workout together, or go catch a movie. These are my people. They are not offended if my mind changes and I decide to just stay at home (with the same books and the same dog), or leave well before I intended because I’m socially burnt out. We can hang out together without really talking. Sometimes all we introverts need is someone within our same space yet not within our bubble.
BONUS: Take my own car. I have learned the hard way that unless I absolutely have to, never ever never ride with someone who is not an introvert. Trust me. Too many times I have been ready to go, but because I was not The Keeper of the Keys, I was stuck. I have literally gone to sleep in a corner or in a car (not safe, don’t do it) while other people were still enjoying themselves because I was the only one ready to go. Now, the majority of the time I take my own vehicle or prepare my going out budget to possible include Uber or Lyft.
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