I'm uncomfortable with making new friends
I don’t know anyone in this class. Upon sitting down, I take a deep breath and steel myself to strike a conversation. I turn to two girls beside me who seem engrossed in their dialogue, hoping to introduce myself. However, I can’t seem to find the right timing. Unfortunately, I end up staring at them and listening in on their exchange. After a while, they seem to notice my presence, making them uncomfortable. Obviously, since a stranger is creepily staring at them and even eavesdropping on their conversation. Now, I not only have no friends, but also two girls who find me weird and creepy.
Have you ever experienced this before? Well, you are not alone. It’s a new school semester and we are confronted yet again with new faces in an foreign environment.
Why is meeting new people so intimidating? There are a few possible reasons: a lack of confidence, overthinking or the pressure of having to like everyone.
Firstly, the issue of a lack of confidence. Maybe you think there isn’t anything interesting or attractive about you. You believe people would not appreciate your company because your presence is not enjoyable. On the other hand, you might possess an inferiority complex which makes you vulnerable around people. True enough, when an individual lacks self-confidence, strangers could make one feel like they are subjected to harsh judgement. As a result, one becomes ever more eager to hide their insecurities and hole up. Sure enough, having a low-esteem makes it daunting to approach others. However, keeping to oneself intensifies your reclusive emotions and does not help the situation.
Pic Cr: freepik
Make friends not enemies. Build bridges not walls. Do this and you will never fail. – Chester Guerrero
Secondly, there is the problem of overthinking. Overthinking could be habitual. It could take the form of deliberating the best question to start a conversation, reading into small details or breaking down someone’s reply to search for an implicit meaning. As such, ‘What if’ and ‘Should I’ questions dominate your thinking, hindering you from taking any action. This creates an insurmountable gap between deciding on a course of action and acting on it. Ruminating is mentally draining and unhelpful. It leads you into an endless loop of worrying instead of problem solving. Nevertheless, this problem is more common than you think. 99% of people are equally concerned about their very own thoughts just like you. While you are worried about all sorts of things, they are doing the same too. Therefore, don’t feel overly conscious and fearful of taking the first step because everyone is the same.
Lastly, you feel pressured to like everyone you speak to. If you are a nice person, you should accept and like everyone right? This thinking compels yourself to like everyone even when you cannot seem to build a rapport. However, reality is one can’t possibly be great friends with everyone so why force it. Rather, it is fine to feel uncomfortable with some people. After all, each of us have differing personalities and preferences. Thus, switch from fretting over those stucked friendships and focus on promising ones.
Keeping all these in mind, what can you do?
Build your confidence
A low self-esteem leads to overthinking and vice-versa. Alternatively, focus on your strengths and reframe your thoughts positively. The moment your inner voice second guesses your abilities, stop it right there. Let the negative thoughts go and shift your attention towards how you can use your strengths. For example, if you feel insecure about not being humorous or enjoyable, dismiss that gloomy thought. Then, focus on your strength of maybe an eye for detail and how you can leverage on it. Ask about an interesting item you saw on the person. Or during a conversation, pick up on certain points and ask further questions. This gives the impression that you are paying attention and induces a person to open up to you.
To overcome overthinking, replace the thought. Rather than telling yourself not to think about an issue, replace it with something else. For example, if you are worried about people’s judgement, ask yourself – What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen? Then, muster the courage and strike a conversation. This method is not specific to befriending. It is relevant to anything. If you find yourself ruminating excessively, try this tip!
Take initiative and be vulnerable
As mentioned earlier, unbeknownst to you, everyone else is consumed in their own thoughts and uncertainties too. Hence, taking the first step brings both parties out of their shell. Put on a smile and ask the opening question! Little do you know, you might find more similarities between both of you than expected.
Pic Cr: freepik
In order to connect to the other party, open up to them. It does not mean to share a heart wrenching sob story. Simply show a vulnerable side that makes you more human and relatable. An example could be sharing how you feel worried about the new class. The other party could possibly find solace and solidarity if they feel the same way! Sharing your thoughts breaks down the emotional barrier, bringing you one step closer. However, keep in mind that there is a line between open versus overly personal. Being overly personal makes the recipient uncomfortable and burdened. Therefore, look out for visual cues and respect their boundaries. Simultaneously, being open is a two-way street. When you are genuine to someone, they might share their personal thoughts too. So, make sure to listen attentively. Be sensitive, tactful and reply thoughtfully. This aids in building mutual trust.
In conclusion, making new friends and being socially connected occurs throughout our lives. You cannot run away from it. It is a skill that requires dedicated effort which does not appear overnight. Thus, be patient and gradually work towards making befriending a more natural task. It takes time but eventually, you will get there. Always remember to make friends not enemies. Build bridges not walls. Do this and you will never fail. All the best with your new friendships!