I recently (basically two hours or so ago) learnt that today is kind of known as Make a Friend Day and I thought I could have some fun with this. I discovered that the friend does not need to be made in person, but can be a pal over social media too!
I know myself and know that the digital route is the easiest route for me in real life. I am conversationally challenged. I am all good until after the hiya bit. So it is really hard to make a friend in all honesty. So the friends that I do have, I value and honestly do appreciate them, both my online and face to face friends.
Thus I have discovered a few things these past few years on how to make friends when you are socially awkward and worry about how to say what you are thinking.
Realise more people are shy around new people just like you are. Okay, maybe not as shy, but it is not a comfortable situation for everyone. Yes, some are social butterflies and can easily approach you but not all are. So there is a high chance that the other person is feeling what you are.
Actually, say hi. Occasionally that is all that is needed and then the other person sometimes takes over the conversation and you roll with it from there. However, if they don’t, have fallback topics or questions that you are comfortable with.
Find your people. By this, I mean that look out for people with similar interests. This could be a local facebook page that relates to a hobby you have, local events, or even joining a WhatsApp group. Or even when in person, bring up your hobby or interest.
Accept yourself. I have many flaws and I know that about myself. That just means I know what my weak points are and where I fumble which gives me a starting point to improve on. I know I will never get rid of the flaws but I can at least arm myself with methods to enable me to better work with what I have. This also helps me be me without falling into the ‘I should probably be this way’ trap and persona.
Approach people. Yip, this is a biggie. Not everyone will approach you and sometimes you will approach each other at the same time. Personally, I need to prep myself and remind myself to calm down and breath. Especially when I go to events and approach people asking to take photos. Seriously out of my comfort zone but has led to some new friendships that would never have been if I had not taken that first step.
Now looking over the above, it just seems like more average advice and if I had found it I would probably roll my eyes and think ‘yeah, you obviously can approach people and do not know how awkward it feels to just stand there looking and feeling stupid because you don’t know how to connect with people.’ However, the above, is honestly what I have done, and what has worked for me to make a few friends.
I know I have difficulty connecting with people, but I also know it is a matter of just having one conversation at a time and slowly building up a friendship. I am all for quality over quantity.
Days like today’s Make a Friend Day always get me thinking and wondering. I am now thinking about children and how easily they make friends. I don’t think they worry about rejection and judgement as much as we do. That and they don’t really have a filter so they say what they do and do not like, regardless of what the others around them say. Well up until a point anyway.
Do you have any first-hand advice for building friendships?