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Ask Kuro5hin: Advice for the Supershy?

By Silent Chris in Culture
Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:28:44 PM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

I've moved on from the dreg but life since has been less than fulfilling.

How does someone supershy even come close to forming friendships/relationships?

(Note that this topic has been discussed before, specifically in regards to relationships and celibacy.  However, the topic of extreme shyness in general, day-to-day circumstances appears to have not been breached.)


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comments (24)
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Call it what you will.  I've examined and reexamined myself so many times, and have never come up with a definitive definition of what I am.  When I was young I thought I was "anti-social".  In high school I thought I had OCD.  In college, Asperger's.  Now, I just refer to myself as "shy", and that gets people off my back.

I feel like a character in The Sims, with all those bars representing different physical and mental needs.  My social bar is deep in the red.  I'm a weird creature: I don't like spending time "dilly-dallying" with others, but at the same time I don't like being alone.  At one point I say I'm "independent"; in the next, I'm lonely.

Background: 23.  Out of college.  Got a good job taking up my time.  Basically no friends.  I have one who's my best friend, a girl I've known for all 23 years of my life (my mom placed me in a crib beside her), but outside of her there is only a lack of companionship.  She can't be relied on to be there all the time because... well... she's one person.  We all have our obligations.

I'm not so shy that I'm psychologically unfit.  I go out on the weekends and run errands, even though I tend not to make eye contact.  I'm quiet around most people.  I must give off a "don't sit next to me" vibe on the bus, because people often don't.  I'm average looking, but worry about my appearance and my chance of dating someone special.  While I have dated before, I met the girls in the same way I meet friends: they just kind of appeared into my life.  It's very hard for me to take initiative.  Once I do, things get a little easier.

Nearly everyone who's taken the time to get to know me has noticed I'm a deep person with a strong sense of humor, I'm articulate, and fairly intelligent.  Most of these friendships last a year or two then cut off.  Some end very badly (like screaming while dating someone).  The last girl I dated was close to 4 years ago.

I know there are others on K5 like me.  I've met people like this in real life.  But even the quiet geeks like to go to parties or drink with friends.  I don't even see that.

The queries:

  1. Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

  2. Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?

  3. How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

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Ask Kuro5hin: Advice for the Supershy? | 169 comments (149 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
Answers (3.57 / 7) (#5)
by Stick on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 11:19:26 AM EST

Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

Depends on the person. Some people need lots of human interaction. Others are happier with very little.

Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?

I don't understand the question? How do you define wrong? Morally wrong? Incorrect? Is it wrong to eat cheese in the presence of turtles?

How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

Dunno.


---
Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n

Absolutely. (5.00 / 2) (#75)
by tzanger on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 04:47:35 PM EST

Is it wrong to eat cheese in the presence of turtles?

Absolutely. Do not bother teaching pigs to sing for it wastes your time and annoys the pig.



[ Parent ]
Painfully shy? (3.75 / 8) (#11)
by dodja on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 11:38:19 AM EST

Man, I wish you were writing this after a couple years of therapy so as to explain the effect Social Phobia had in your life, and what you've done to fix yourself. Social Phobia, if you don't know, is a feeling of anxiety in social situations, generally related to the irrational fear of embarassment. People who don't know what it is usually call it "painfully shy," but shyness it is not. It's said to be the third-largest psychological disorder. I suffer from it too, to an extent. I used to dance alone at clubs, for christ sake. It's terrible sometimes, because it wraps together a lot of personal issues: friends and romantic relationships, as you mentioned. But at the core are really your self-esteem, your personal discipline, and your fear of failure and embarassment.

First of all, stop worrying that people won't like you. Some will and some won't. More will probably not like you.

Second, stop being such a desperate guy with your girlfriends. Never ever exude your desperation in front of a girl. Go read the DJ Bible, which contains a lot of information dads forget to tell their sons these days.

Third, seek therapy. Since social phobia tends to cover itself up with justifications and excuses, just talking things through with someone can help you see how your normally logical brain twists your logic to justify your actions. (And related to point 2, don't seek a girl who you can dump all these feelings on...)

Listen, you said you're a smart guy. That means you're miles ahead of the curve already. So go read some books on social phobia. Go read The Road Less Traveled, which isn't about phobia, just about life & love. Start working towards fixing yourself, and come back here and tell us how you did.

BTW, I'd normally do -1 to avoid turning K5 into a self-help site, but I'll probably do +1 just to see a good dialogue.
--- Dodja
Shyness (4.00 / 3) (#41)
by greenrd on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:13:31 PM EST

Social Phobia, if you don't know, is a feeling of anxiety in social situations, generally related to the irrational fear of embarassment.

I read the linked page and I meet some of those descriptions. However, I'm not convinced that my fears are entirely irrational. I mean, most obviously, I do get very anxious and/or embarassed in certain social situations, and therefore it's not irrational to fear those situations, because that's what will happen!

I read things like "People with social anxiety know that their anxiety is irrational and does not make logical sense", and as I'm very attached to rationality [that's one of the reasons why I never drink or do drugs], I find this insulting. I can sort of see the point that it's partly a matter of self-reinforcement, but still... There are objective reasons why other people might - and do - find me embarassing, such as my lack of experience interacting in certain situations (never been to a club, for example). I'm not being completely irrational, damnit!

People who don't know what it is usually call it "painfully shy," but shyness it is not.

Huh? Doesn't it at least imply shyness?

It just seems like a new technical term for an old concept to me.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

So basically you think you're better than us (3.50 / 2) (#84)
by dipierro on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:49:42 PM EST

I read things like "People with social anxiety know that their anxiety is irrational and does not make logical sense"

I'm pretty sure that just means that those who don't realize that their anxiety is irrrational have much bigger problems.

I'm very attached to rationality [that's one of the reasons why I never drink or do drugs]

Problem solved. Start drinking and doing drugs. You'll meet a lot more people, discover new things about your mind, and generate new stories. Most importantly you'll stop having a holier-and-more-rational-than-thou attitude that you're somehow better than everyone else. Perhaps that's what turns people off from you. Narcissism is a very obvious trait.



[ Parent ]
I don't like the presumptiveness (3.50 / 2) (#86)
by greenrd on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:08:49 PM EST

I'm pretty sure that just means that those who don't realize that their anxiety is irrrational have much bigger problems.

Well, maybe. However, I think it would have been less jarring if it had said "often know" instead of "know".

Problem solved. Start drinking and doing drugs.

I'd rather not take any risks of becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict. Either of those would definitely suck compared to where I am now. Also as I said I'm very attached to rationality, also I don't like to be embarassed, and also due to my lack of socialisation compared to the average person, I'm afraid of what I might say or do.

Most importantly you'll stop having a holier-and-more-rational-than-thou attitude that you're somehow better than everyone else.

No, no, I don't think I would...


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

What did I presume incorrectly? (2.00 / 1) (#88)
by dipierro on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:32:38 PM EST

I'd rather not take any risks of becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict.

Alcohol and most drugs do not make you become an alcoholic or a drug addict. Only you make yourself an alcoholic or drug addict. At least, a practicing one. Do you think it's rational to think that getting drunk or stoned or something else in moderation will make you addicted? It's not, it's irrational.

Also as I said I'm very attached to rationality, also I don't like to be embarassed, and also due to my lack of socialisation compared to the average person, I'm afraid of what I might say or do.

The irrational thinking is not that you will get embarassed, it's that it's not worth it to be embarassed. Everyone gets embarassed. Embarassment doesn't kill you. You'll get over it, and you'll learn from the experience. If you'd prefer permanent lonliness to temporary embarassment, then keep on livin' the way you are. But from the fact that you've written this, it doesn't sound like you do.

No, no, I don't think I would...

You'll never know unless you try.



[ Parent ]
Strawman alert! (none / 0) (#154)
by haflinger on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 09:47:16 PM EST

dipierro, usually you're better than this.
I'd rather not take any risks of becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict.
Alcohol and most drugs do not make you become an alcoholic or a drug addict.
He didn't say the psychoactive in question would certainly addict him. He merely suggested it as a risk.

This would seem to be obvious. It's hard to become addicted to a substance if you never consume it.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

You've misunderstood me (3.00 / 1) (#156)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 10:53:55 AM EST

He didn't say the psychoactive in question would certainly addict him. He merely suggested it as a risk.

And my response is that alcohol and most drugs do not pose any risk of addiction, you pose the risk of addiction. If you are unable to consume a single wine when it suits you and then stop when it doesn't, you are already addicted. There's physical addiction, which isn't going to happen from one wine, or one joint, or one pill of just about anything. Zero risk, not small, zero. Then there's psychological addiction, and if you're obsessed with not drinking or smoking or pill-popping then you're already addicted.

It's hard to become addicted to a substance if you never consume it.

If you mean physical addiction, sure. But it's impossible to become physically addicted to certain drugs such as marijuana anyway.



[ Parent ]
Define your terms. (2.00 / 1) (#157)
by haflinger on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 11:45:43 AM EST

Webster's defines addict as below:
Main Entry: 1ad·dict
Pronunciation: &-'dikt
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Latin addictus, past participle of addicere to favor, from ad- + dicere to say -- more at DICTION
Date: 1534
1 : to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively <addicted to gambling>
2 : to cause addiction to a substance in
You're not using the common usage, and so you have to define your terms before you play with them.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Addiction (none / 0) (#158)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 12:53:45 PM EST

1. Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance. [physical addiction]

2. The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something. [psychological addiction]

http://www.dictionary.com/search?q=addiction

Sounds like a common usage definition to me.

[ Parent ]

"Occupied with or involved in" (none / 0) (#159)
by haflinger on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:27:32 PM EST

You're not occupied or involved if you don't use it.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Occupied (none / 0) (#160)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:35:09 PM EST

You don't understand what "occupied with" means.

But look, let's not play "what does addiction mean". Let's use your definition... By your definition you are only addicted if you "devote or surrender [yourself] to something habitually or obsessively". So as long as you do not drink or do drugs habitually or obsessively, you're not addicted.

I think that's kind of a silly definition, but it still doesn't disprove my point. Drinking or doing most drugs in moderation does not cause addiction.



[ Parent ]
Correct, in so far as it goes. (none / 0) (#162)
by haflinger on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:48:38 PM EST

The original fallacy was a strawman fallacy, though. You say "Drinking or doing most drugs in moderation does not cause addiction." However, the original poster did not make that claim. What he said was that he felt there was a risk of addiction, and that for this reason he was avoiding the use of psychoactives. A more accurate characterization of his post would be "Not drinking or taking psychoactive drugs is a foolproof way to prevent addiction." And this is true.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
It was not a strawman... (none / 0) (#163)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:06:26 PM EST

The original poster implied that drinking or doing drugs increased ones risk of being an alcoholic or a drug addict. I disagree. Drinking in moderation does not increase ones risk of being an alcoholic. Using marijuana in moderation does not increase ones risk of being a drug addict.

A more accurate characterization of his post would be "Not drinking or taking psychoactive drugs is a foolproof way to prevent addiction." And this is true.

My response to that, using your definition of addiction, would be that "Drinking or taking psychoactive drugs in moderation is also a foolproof way to prevent addiction."



[ Parent ]
It's not foolproof. (none / 0) (#164)
by haflinger on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:41:23 PM EST

Fools aren't good at moderation. They may believe they are ingesting moderately, and be wrong.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Still (none / 0) (#165)
by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 03:54:50 PM EST

My statement was that "Drinking or taking psychoactive drugs in moderation is also a foolproof way to prevent [your definition of] addiction." Whether or not the fool thinks it's moderation is irrelevant. To quote AA's "Big Book":

We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself, step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.

Now granted, AA asserts that alcoholism is a disease, not something which has anything to do with the amount of alcohol you consume. But we're playing with your definition at the moment, so maybe it's just somewhere that we have to agree to disagree.



[ Parent ]
Well, guh (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by unknownlamer on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 04:03:53 PM EST

After reading that...I can see most of the "symptoms" of social anxiety disorder in me (in fact, IIRC I "used to" have mild social anxiety...). I like think of stuff like this as an "inhibition wall." Basically, it is extremely difficult for me enter a social situation. E.g. a phone call. It takes me forever to make the call. I'll go over the different ways the conversation can start and almost puke over it. But once I make the call and get the person I was looking for, I'm fine. Same thing goes for new people--if I've never met you before it's nearly impossible for me to talk to you. But once I meet you somehow, I'm fine.

And then comes the weirdness of text based communication for me. There is no wall to climb when I'm on IRC. I can pop into a channel, and start talking. Same for AIM (hey, I'm in High School and all of my friends use it), if someone there there is no sitting there and debating whether to say 'hi' or not.

So I guess it all comes down to non-determinism. I don't know who will pick up a phone when I call someone, or even if anyone is going to pick up. When I'm on IRC, I know that the person I'm /msg'ing is going to be there. Same for AIM.

And now off to make a phone call...


--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
This is why online communication is better.....n/t (none / 0) (#131)
by trane on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 12:37:59 PM EST



[ Parent ]
My girlfriend doesn't use the net very much (nt) (none / 0) (#132)
by unknownlamer on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 01:45:27 PM EST


--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
She will when she discovers me..................nt (none / 0) (#137)
by trane on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 03:11:52 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Don't make me kick your ass :) (nt) (none / 0) (#138)
by unknownlamer on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 03:18:46 PM EST


--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
[ Parent ]
Advice (3.50 / 2) (#12)
by Herring on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 11:42:49 AM EST

Listen to this. It wont help, but listen to it anyway.


Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
I have advice, but you might not like it (4.70 / 17) (#14)
by theantix on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 11:50:36 AM EST

I was once shy, like you.  I was "happy", didn't need to change really.  Then there was a personal tragedy in my life that changed my opinion about this forever, and convinced me that personal interactions were the spice that makes life worthwhile.  So while it's not "wrong", I'd certainly recommend that you try to change your situation.

This is how I broke out of the funk:  I realized that people didn't really care about me.  I could screw up and they wouldn't really care about that.  I used to worry about doing things wrong (or not knowing what to do) in social situations so I would do nothing at all.

Then I decided to change.  However, I had to force myself into social situations.  I tried putting myself in places, but I was still too self-conscious.  So I had to take radical steps to push myself where I was unwilling to go.  

Here's the tough advice: do wild, crazy, mean things.  Get a body piercing or a tattoo, dye your hair, do something nutty just to have a good story.  For once, do what you really want to do in a social situation.  Tell someone ahead of time that you will do it, and get them to prod you until you do.  If you can't do it on your own, there are certain drugs that have the effect of making you less socially conscious.  (Some are at your local liquor store, some aren't).

After you do something truly crazy, being "normal" is much easier.  You'll have to trust me on this one.  However, here is a sobering afterthought:  I've found that most of those people are painfully boring once meeting them.  So it might not be worth the effort.

If you don't like that advice, I have one more piece for you: volunteer yourself for some good cause where you live.  It will likely be a good venue for meeting people, however you still have to present your good side and all of those other social niceties.  That's my plan for the next time I move.


--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!

good idea, cept for one thing... (4.75 / 4) (#26)
by MMcP on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:15:48 PM EST

If you can't do it on your own, there are certain drugs that have the effect of making you less socially conscious. (Some are at your local liquor store, some aren't).

This plan of action obviously can lead to Very Bad Things. I am totally FOR drug abuse, but the way this comment is put suggests using them as a crutch for social inability. A better course of action is to "practice" being yourself in small groups and then move up to people who do not know you. If you find you are only yourself when completely alone or with one trusted friend (as I assume you do) you are not going to do so far in life. Things like job interviews are going to flop, being around 99.9999999% of the population is uncomfortable etc etc. Drugs won't solve that.

You have to correct behavior in the most primitive sense. "Being yourself" in front of strangers is going to feel awkward for quite a while. Being human beings, we have this amazing power to THINK about actions and make them reality. This is not the easiest thing in the world, and you had better have patience. Let me ask you a question: You notice you talk more when drunk, right? Did your friends get angry at you about this? Most likely you were MORE amusing/engaging then normal. Use observations of yourself with fewer inhibitions to realize how much they get in the way of who you want to be. Tear down your inhibitions without the use of substances, unlearn all those behaviours thet just plain suck. Practice practice practice.

Sorry for the long, unorganized rant, but this is how my brain works...

[ Parent ]
I'll venture something radical here (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by theantix on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 04:06:36 PM EST

Your suggestion is good, but unworkable for most situations.  If most people could function socially without the aid of chemicals, the Irish would have to create some new product to sell besides beer.  Columbia, Afghanistan, and British Columbia would all have to find new crops to grow.  

My intuition tells me that this is because a lot of people are shy in social situations, and find that a beer, or a joint, or whatever gives them an edge in social situations that helps them become something they can't do on their own.  If you can, awesome!!!  But really, with the exception of people with problems, these substances are consumed at or prior to large social gatherings.  Again, my intuition tells me this is probably not a coincidence.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]

with respect to alcohol at least (4.00 / 2) (#78)
by aphrael on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:05:08 PM EST

and maybe to a certain degree with marijuana ... while they are both often consumed before and during social gatherings, they are also both often consumed in the normal course of day-to-day life. Wine with dinner is a traditional thing in much of the world; a joint before watching a movie is normal in California stoner culture. Neither are indicative of problems per se.

[ Parent ]
Okay, I'll give you that much (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by theantix on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 07:10:02 PM EST

Well, you are certainly correct, however that opens up another discussion altogether.  What defines "a problem" in regards to substance abuse?  Is the escapism that certain stoners or boozers go for a problem?  Or how about the altered mental states that certain drug users pursue?  Or is it only a problem when it interferes with areas of your life that was not intended?

How does drinking a glass of wine with your family over dinner fit in?  I guess the question is why do you drink wine with dinner?  To calm the nerves from work stress?  To help block out your problems with life?  Or just because you like the taste?  Really, I would say it depends on the person, but if it doesn't interfere with your life it's probably not problematic.

Since one of the oft-used definitions of problem drinking is drinking alone, you see where my original argument was coming from.  It's almost as if our society has deemed social drinking "normal" simply because, it's social.  That doesn't mean that non-social drinking is problematic per se, but it certainly could be.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]

You know (3.50 / 2) (#109)
by MMcP on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 10:12:00 PM EST

I don't know if anyone is still reading this thread, but here goes:

I consider the emotions felt under the influence to be "false" in the sense that you have little or no part in them.  It is essential to feel different ways then you typically do so you can have a bearing on your emotional state.  "Could I feel better then I do with some effort?" Or: "Is feeling this way just a novelty?"  
My prescription is to begin with drinking in social situations, and, as long as you don't black out, observe yourself being different.  Take mental notes during periods of lucidity, maybe jot stuff down.  LEARN from that experience.  Always learn.  Now find ways to feel fantastic without those drugs.  

I deplore drug culture because it is a group of people not staking new grounds emotionally and behaviorally.  They just smoke weed every day because that is the only way they know to feel "right."  Bad idea.

[ Parent ]

But, but they have! (none / 0) (#153)
by haflinger on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 09:31:28 PM EST

You misstate slightly.
If most people could function socially without the aid of chemicals, the Irish would have to create some new product to sell besides beer.
As an (ethnically speaking) Irishman, I must object to this. While Irish beer is quite good, nothing in the world touches Irish whiskey, including Irish beer. (Well, except bourbon. But that's whiskey too. :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Scotch... (none / 0) (#161)
by vectro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 02:38:57 PM EST

beats Irish whiskey any day of the year.

But certainly Irish whiskey beats any beer.

mmm. Strict weak ordering...

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Your best friend is your mother? (1.58 / 12) (#15)
by The Littlest Hobo on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 11:58:45 AM EST

It's time for professional therapy, guy.

My thoughts... (4.40 / 5) (#16)
by Xeriar on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 12:00:48 PM EST

Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

Depends on what you mean by few... I too, only have one 'really good' friend, but I have a bunch of acquantance-decent friends who will say 'Hi' and chat about whatever if appropriate.

I find I have to maintain a delicate balance between 'crowded' and 'lonely'. Being on-line can be a pretty good stopper for this if you get to know enough people.

Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?

When I was in therapy (around the age of 12) I was reminded that having one friend I could trust was more than many could hope for, and I had three. It's not 'wrong', but it may be a good idea to look into it... That 'empty' feeling can hurt, I know, and only people, not some god or computer can fix it.

Something about human nature, I guess.

How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

Become not super-shy! :-)

Honestly, the way I broke out of it was I taught myself how to be amusing. It really is a skill like any other - you can shape and hone it, and it degrades without practice. But without a doubt the easiest way to break the ice is a witty line.

Oddly, as I dove further into this type of thing (devoloping skills thought to be gifts rather than something you learn) I gained a real sense of self-development. Like I was gaining a personality. Big boost in self confidence, and a few new skills to speak for - a winning situation all around.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.

Well (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by Betcour on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 12:12:55 PM EST

IMHO of course, IANAP (Psychologist) :

Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

I think so, although you'll still need someone special to live with, because frankly total lonelyness sucks (and then it is nice to get laid sometimes too...). Although a special someone is usually required to have kids, which is for many people a major part in having a fulfulling life.
Once you have a busy job, a wife and some kids you'll probably be too busy to notice your lack of social activites. Or your wife will take care of finding friends and getting invited to places. Either way you'll not worry about it much.

Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?

Not in my book anyway. Plenty of sucessful people have little to no social skills (*cough* B. Gates *cough*). It doesn't matter what society thinks about it, it is only a problem if you feel like it is a problem (yes I know it is circular logic).

How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

Well first do you really want to ? Maybe you don't, in which case the question is answered. There's the standard reply : "go out, do things, talk to peoples". Then there's the non-bullshit version : do what you like, people will eventually come to you. If you are looking for someone special, there's plenty of personnals web site (or use IRC or your favorite chatroom, but then most of them are filled with FBI agents ;-)

Excessive Socialising is for the Bored (4.72 / 11) (#19)
by CheeseburgerBrown on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 12:41:50 PM EST

Personally, I have not felt a need to find a "solution" to my social anxiety "problems". I mean, I make an effort to get over my shyness in the rare opporunities when it seems to actually be important to connect with someone (for example, when I met the girl I just married a few weeks ago). I guess my advice is: choose your battles. You don't need a bazillion friends -- two or three good ones will cut the mustard -- so be opportunistic: when you think someone has the potential to be a good friend, you can focus your energies. Don't change your life, just develop new strategies.

As for how to actually meet potential friend candidates, I would suggest anywhere except a bar. The net can be a good medium for meeting people, if it's not abused (e.g., telling fibs, being a chickenshit, etc).

Also: consider the benefits of living a comparatively solitary life! First of all, you get a lot done. For a lot of people, socialising is just something interesting to take up the time between when they're at work and when they're asleep. When you only make time to spend with quality friends once in a while, you have more time left over to compose a symphony, write a novel, become a chess master, look through your telescope, or build robots hell-bent on world conquest -- whatever's your fancy.

By the bye, I have been professionally diagnosed with Asperger's by several smarty-pants, but that hasn't had the least impact on how I view my reluctance to be amid people. What difference does it make to my life and my feelings whether some egghead has a name for my "syndrome"?

Do what feels right. If you're lonely, use a search engine and dig up somebody who's feeling the same. Or, better yet, write about it to an on-line communi -- wait a minute...Nevermind.



This is an excellent example of a fairly dull but decently spelled signature.

Wow... (3.66 / 3) (#21)
by Danse on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:00:06 PM EST

This all sounds so familiar. I was extremely shy all through my school years and beyond too. I literally had no friends for much of that time. I just didn't know how to meet people or make friends. I ended up meeting people on a local BBS (this was like '94). It was interesting. At first I wouldn't even talk to people on the BBS. I was basically just a lurker and would hang out and play the games and stuff. Little by little, people would talk to me to figure out who this person was that never says anything. Ended up going to some get-togethers with people from the bbs and made some friends that are still my best friends today. Oh, and a girlfriend too :) I've learned to be less shy since then. I'm still not a very social person. I am still very bad at meeting people and making friends. I still have only a few friends, and only a couple close ones. I guess meeting people online was a way for them to get to know me a bit and vice versa without actually having to meet in person, which is usually awkward for me. Once I can get past that awkward and uncomfortable stage with someone, it's easier for me to be around them and talk to them. I'm happy with the way things are now though. If anything, I just don't have as much time as I'd like to spend with my friends. But that's a whole different problem.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
The big question: (3.40 / 5) (#22)
by MMcP on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:02:37 PM EST

Are you happy with who you are?  

yes - God bless, go back to being lazy

no - start thinking about what to do differently.  Walk outside on a daily basis to notice people exist.  
Join a club.  
Delete AIM.  
Go to church if religious.  
Start to teach yourself that interaction can be fun.  
Call people instead of waiting for them to call you.  
If you feel that people do not like you then flat out ask them.  
If you don't like a person then avoid him/her.  Even better, TELL THEM you do not like them.    
Notice that making conversation with people you hardly know can be fun in the respect of learning about things you never knew existed.  
Hang out with gay people even if you are not gay - they are much more interesting and accepting of others on average.
Don't be ashamed to admit you are a geek.
Realize that people who you call friends are willing to do things for you.
Discover that sometimes people who barely know you are willing to help you.
Talk to strangers.  

The main lesson here is to be ACTIVE.  Sitting on the couch letting the walls close in doesn't solve anything.  You have to actively pursue your life or else bad things are going to happen.

what gay people do you know? (2.00 / 4) (#62)
by tps12 on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:40:18 PM EST

Hang out with gay people even if you are not gay - they are much more interesting and accepting of others on average.

This has not been my experience, unless by "interesting" you mean "arrogant" and by "accepting" you mean "critical."

[ Parent ]

I'm with you (4.33 / 3) (#24)
by n8f8 on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:09:05 PM EST

I'm in the same place. Except I'm married with three kids. Meeting my wife was a fluke. When I take my kids to t-ball I find myself wandering away from the crowd. I avoid parties or gatherings. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm just not comfortable. Around my kids I'm fine.

I know my father is the same way. When I'm in a situation where I'm forced to interact I do well. The best times I've ever had were in the Navy and College. In both cases I tended to "wake up" when confronted with a challenge. The same is true whenever I encounter an emergency.

One piece of advice I'd offer you though, even if you happen to meet a girl who pays attention to you, make super-sure she doesn't have issues of her own. I've learned that one the hard way.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

Lighten Up/ Grow Balls/ Get Off-Line/ Smile More (4.66 / 9) (#25)
by quasipalm on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:11:16 PM EST

Your first question is way off:

Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

Who knows / cares about "a person"? What you should be asking is "Can I have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?" I think you know the answer is a resounding no. Read your post, it's pretty obvious that you're not happy with your situation.

Your second question is silly. Who cares about social standing? Be concerned with your happiness and your friends'/family's happiness and forget about anything else.

Question 3: The supershy don't meet people. They are met. If you're not happy with this fact, then you need to grow some balls and be more sociable. Make eye contact (not the creepy kind) with people and smile more. Join some of those silly clubs that smart women love about art/books/etc. Take a class in pottery or glass blowing and make a point of talking to people. Go to packed bars on the weekend (yes, even by yourself) sit at the bar and drink a few to relax a little... then ask a stranger to play a game of pool.

Literally, there are people everywhere you go, so reach out a little and you'll be amazed how people respond, even in the most unfriendly cities. Most of your efforts will yield fruitless, but so what? You're not out anything by trying.
(hi)
The Creepy Kind (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by _cbj on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:02:28 PM EST

And girls know about this, I wasn't just making it up in my head? Holy fuch. That's too frightening to deal with, knowing my suspected creepiness is real. I'll never look up at a girl again. Except from escalators, and then I don't want them to know I'm looking.

[ Parent ]
unfriendly cities? (5.00 / 2) (#127)
by j1mmy on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 08:41:45 AM EST

you'll be amazed how people respond, even in the most unfriendly cities

Chicago, Illinois. Purple Line train, southbound. Afternoon rush-hour.

Guy: Man, the people in this city are so rude!
Me: Sit down and shut up.
Guy: ...
Me: Hahaha! Just kidding.

I rarely wonder why I don't have many friends.

[ Parent ]

The results (3.75 / 4) (#27)
by jabber on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:17:29 PM EST

/ 1. Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships? /

That all depends on what you find to be satisfying. Social butterflies need the attention. Most geeks don't seem to. What makes YOU happy is what determines if you find your life fulfilling. And you get to define what makes you happy, and change it at will.

If you feel that you need to get out more, you will not be happy until you do.

Note also that the ability to socialize is a developmental necessity. Humans are herd animals for the most part, but society is driven ahead by those on the fringes.

/ 2. Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society? /

It isn't "wrong", but it isn't "normal" either. Then again, "normal" is a statistical term, and people are not numbers. We're all a little freaky in one way or another. You probably have it all over the social butterflies who so intimidate you, because you take the time for introspection and analysis, while they just mindlessly flutter from flower to flower, and from party to party.

/ 3. How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer? /

Why, on the Internet of course. After you talk to enough potential humans online, you might chance to meet some in the Big Blue Room.

But, as others have already suggested, you might want to talk to someone trained. There may be more going on than you thing there is. Or less. A trained professional will help you make sense of things, and to put things in perspective.

Your questions suggest that you lack a baseline for normalcy. Finding a licensed counselor of therapist will give you that baseline, and it will be a step in the right direction, whatever that direction might be for you.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

instincts (3.00 / 1) (#119)
by dalinian on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 02:47:15 AM EST

If you feel that you need to get out more, you will not be happy until you do.
Actually that's not true. You may be able to simply change the way you feel. I often feel I need to get out more, but when I think about it a little, the need disappears. It seems it is only some irrational instinct, which can be overcome by thinking rationally.

Many people seem to trust their instincts for no good reason. Instincts often get you in unnecessary trouble: good examples of this are marriage and prison.

[ Parent ]

A few thoughts... (4.00 / 3) (#28)
by madgeo on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:18:10 PM EST

1.Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

I think it is a tougher existence but it can be done. I heard that having pets are recommended for single people because it adds to quality of life (stress, etc.). It makes me think that living alone is not natural for some.

If some of the advice given in the answers posted here doesn't work, you may want to see a shrink or other counselor for advice, they help a lot. Your comment about screaming break-ups made me wonder, but what do I know.

I was shy once and a geek. I'm still a geek but I like it and I have lots of friends both geek and un-geek. Friendly churches, clubs, community colleges, etc. are great for making friends.

Take a class in something complete different, like pottery, art, philosophy, something that "people that think different" would go to.

Toastmasters (a public speaking club thats everywhere) is tough for shyness but will help if you can force yourself to go.

quick thoughts from a neuroscience student (4.00 / 4) (#29)
by bhouston on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:25:17 PM EST

Well, I can take a stab at the problem from a neuroscience perspective. Remember that I am only allowed to work on rats and not humans. ;-)

(1) If you find that you are anxious in social settings and that is in turn making you shy you might benefit from an anti-anxiety drug. One popular but fairly harmless anti-anxiety drug is Xanax.

(2) Maybe you have low testosterone levels? Low testosterone levels can make one unsure of themselves and less assertive. There are many possible causes including weird things such as excessive masturbation or more simple things such as genetics. To fix the later you can probably get some testosterone supplements from your doctor.

(3) Low self esteem also could be a factor. If this is the case I suggest that you try and increase your social circle so that you can have a larger base of friends that accept you as you are. Although this is sometimes difficult I have written up some information on my website that may help:
Learning how to be assertive
Improving social skills
How to make friends & influence people


Huh? (4.75 / 4) (#32)
by lb008d on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:35:01 PM EST

weird things such as excessive masturbation

From the alt.sex.masturbation FAQ (yup there is one!):

23Q. I want to start working out to build muscle mass. Some of my friends say masturbation will increase testosterone, but others say it will decrease testosterone. What effect will masturbation have?

Masturbation is very unlikely to decrease testosterone levels. Semen is not the source of testosterone, and ejaculation will not cause testosterone levels to go down.

All other things being equal, increased sexual activity -- including masturbation -- tends to increase testosterone levels. But these levels depend upon many factors including age, time of day, overall level of physical activity, and general health. Psychological factors can cause changes in testosterone levels: levels go up in men who believe they are going to become more sexually active, levels can be affected by whether a person knows in advance that he will be test for testosterone, and so forth.

In your case, the increase in physical activity accompanying your workouts will probably have a much greater effect on your testosterone levels. If you are a young male AND working out, your testosterone level is likely to be so high that any difference masturbation (or other sexual activity) might make will be insignificant.

[ Parent ]

hilarous! I'm wrong. :-) (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by bhouston on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:57:18 PM EST

I knew that was too weird to mention without someone complaining in someway. ;-)

I don't put much faith into FAQ on the internet. But I found the folowing paper abstract. It basically says that masturbation doesn't really affect testosterone but it does elevate some other semi-related steriod hormones.

The levels of pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHA), androstenedione, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), oestrone, oestradiol, cortisol and luteinizing hormone (LH) were measured in the peripheral plasma of a group of young, apparently healthy males before and after masturbation. The same steroids were also determined in a control study, in which the psychological antipation of masturbation was encouraged, but the physical act was not carried out. The plasma levels of all steroids were significantly increased after masturbation, whereas steroid levels remained unchanged in the control study. The most marked changes after masturbation were observed in pregnenolone and DHA levels. No alterations were observed in the plasma levels of LH. Both before and after masturbation plasma levels of testosterone were significantly correlated to those of DHT and oestradiol, but not to those of the other steroids studied. On the other hand, cortisol levels were significantly correlated to those of pregnenolone, DHA, androstenedione and oestrone. In the same subjects, the levels of pregnenolone, DHA, androstenedione, testosterone and DHT, androstenedione and oestrone. In the same subjects, the levels of pregnenolone, DHA, androstenedione, testosterone and DHT in seminal plasma were also estimated; they were all significantly correlated to the levels of the corresponding steroid in the systemic blood withdrawn both before and after masturbation. As a practical consequence, the results indicate that whenever both blood and semen are analysed, blood sampling must precede semen collection.
From "Endocrine effects of masturbation in men." Journal of Endocrinology. 70(3):439-44, 1976.

[ Parent ]
in regards to testosterone: sex != masturbation (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by bhouston on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:04:37 PM EST

lb008d wrote:
"increased sexual activity -- including masturbation -- tends to increase testosterone levels."

Actually research has shown that masturbation doesn't effect testosterone in the same way that intercourse does:
"...intercourse but not masturbation phasically increased men's testosterone levels."

A good reference for everything testosterone is this paper:

Zitmann, M. & Nieschlag, E. (2001) "Testosterone levels in healthy men and the relation to behavioural and physical characteristics: facts and constructs." European Journal of Endocrinology 144:183-197

[ Parent ]
Xanax? (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by jseverin on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:00:58 PM EST

I'm not a pharmacist, but Xanax seems to be pretty heavy stuff. Also, addictive. It's great for airplane rides of 8+ hours, though.

I wouldn't recommend it to a depressed friend.

[ Parent ]

safety and addiction: Xanax vs. BuSpar (4.50 / 2) (#42)
by bhouston on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:18:20 PM EST

DISCLAIMER: I recommend talking to a doctor before trying any perscription medicine. Students posting on the internet are not always the most reliable sources of medical information. :-/

Xanax is a benzodiazepine and thus is not as safe as SSRI-style antidepressant medications. This isn't to say that it isn't safe but to say that some other drugs are safer.

If one desires a non-benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drug there is BuSpar (buspirone). BuSpar is a 5-HT[1a] agonist and thus is usually non-addictive and resistant to overdose attempts.

I believe that you, jseverin, are correct in calling my error. I should have recommended BuSpar instead of Xanax since it is indeed safer and less addictive. Thanks.

[ Parent ]
The non-US solution (4.62 / 8) (#30)
by orangecutter on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:26:28 PM EST

I was like you once, but with one difference. I hadn't even been on one date in my life. There are many parts to a solution. Here are some that I employed.

  1. This first one might grate if you're from the US, but... don't worry about it. Sure, the Yanks love to go into therapy. Sure, it's great to give yourself a label (obsessive compulsive? Asperger's? Anti-social?) but whilst that's a possiblity, it's probably just a diversion invented by a psychologist who knows how to make a career for themselves. In the UK, we just get on with things. Don't dwell on it. Move on. Which moves us on to...

  2. Realise you are normal. You might be obsessed with yourself, but most people aren't. You don't meet someone's eye when you buy a paper? Well, the shop assistant won't be talking about you after you leave the shop. Go to a party and say something silly? Who cares? You might, but the people you're talking to have got plenty of other things going on in their lives to remember you for that. Whatever you do, no-one's going to worry too much about it. They're too busy.

  3. Be happy with your lot. For example, on the friends issue: you're normal. Not everyone has lots of friends. You only know the ones who do because, by the very nature of it, they know lots of people! By definition, those people with few friends aren't well known, but I promise you there are plenty of them.

    And you have a platonic relationship with a girl? My friend, I dreamed of that! To be accepted enough to have conversations with someone of the opposite sex. You don't know how lucky you are!

  4. After realising these things, I did also realise that I was a very quiet person. So I made a new-year's resolution: Talk to one new person every day. Yes, you can't have spoken to them ever in your life before. And no cheating. Saying "thank you" to a shop assistant doesn't count. You've got to say something which is in the vein of a casual conversation to someone, even if it's just one sentence. In my case, I sometimes had to go off down the road at 11:50pm to find someone at a bus stop and something silly like "Do you think the bus is going to be long?" Stupid, I know, but it forced me out. By March it was no problem to talk to people.

  5. Get involved. Do something which forces you to meet people and do things. I became my class representative at college. I had to attend meetings and actually ask people's opinions, follow up on actions, etc. I knew it would be difficult, but because other people were depending on me then I had to do it. Gradually, you should get involved in more and more things of increasing (social) difficulty.

  6. Oh, and one final thing: Always say yes. If some asks you to do something, say yes. If you they ask you to go somewhere, say yes. You think you're going to hate it? Tough. Agree. Say yes. That'll force you out.
Well, that's my list. I'm still quiet. I'm not perfect. But I'm happy with my lot, and my job, amazingly, is as a people manager.

--
Sort out your work problems by talking to others
http://www.workkitchen.org
Simply untrue (4.33 / 3) (#31)
by greenrd on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:34:59 PM EST

Go to a party and say something silly? Who cares? You might, but the people you're talking to have got plenty of other things going on in their lives to remember you for that.

But if you say or do something really stupid, or deviant, or embarassing, people may well associate that with you for a long time. Especially if you make a habit of it...


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Whoa! Professor Negative comes to town! (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by orangecutter on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:00:00 PM EST

You might be the one person in the world who could wipe that stupid smile off Ronald Macdonald's face.

Yeah, sure, you're right, that could happen, but in reality people aren't too stupid, are pretty decent, and can distinguish a person from individual acts. If you're hanging out with people who'll remember you for your silly mistakes then I think you've got in with a bad (or juvenile) crowd. We already know that Silent Chris is "a deep person with a strong sense of humor, [...] articulate, and fairly intelligent" so I think he's not going to do too badly.

--
Sort out your work problems by talking to others
http://www.workkitchen.org
[ Parent ]

Really? Tell me more. (4.00 / 1) (#103)
by libertine on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 08:46:05 PM EST

Look, there is one really simple way to make yourself invaluable to others, especially women, without changing your ways too much...become a really good listener.

I don't mean just sitting there like a log.  There are several key phrases that anyone will respond to like Pavlov's dog, which will keep a conversation going with little effort on your part.

Any short, open ended statement, phrased as a question.  That is it.  It just can't be possible to end it with a yes or a no.

The whole point is to make people more comfortable with you, not the other way around.  If you can see someone else's barriers come down, you WILL relax with them.  Other things that help are behaviors that will let them think that you are mildly imbibing, etc- if the party involves booze, get a soda and some ice, and put it into a glass rather than drink out of a can.  If its pot, hang out with the serious smokers so some of it clings to your clothes (it doesn't have to be particularly noticable, just enough for you to fit in).

Being this kind of person is effortless for the truly shy, and will get you invited to all kinds of parties.

Oh, recommended reading is "101 ways to start a conversation and win friends" or something like that.


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

whoa (none / 0) (#64)
by tps12 on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:49:28 PM EST

But I'm happy with my lot, and my job, amazingly, is as a people manager.

Your company still uses people? What is this, 1978?

[ Parent ]

Not as wonderful as you think (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by Nikau on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:57:36 PM EST

And you have a platonic relationship with a girl? My friend, I dreamed of that! To be accepted enough to have conversations with someone of the opposite sex. You don't know how lucky you are!
It's got a side effect for me... See, I have many platonic relationships with girls/women. My first two closest friends were girls. A couple of my best friends at the moment are girls.

The side effect?

It's destroyed any ability I may have developed at expressing romantic interest in them. I'm 21, and I have yet to date anyone, period. I've had an interest in one of my friends for about six years, and although at one point we did discuss it, she wasn't interested at that given moment. I've been too terrified to bring it up again.

I think SC and I are in a similar position on that front. Just don't be too sure that he and I are lucky for platonic relationships with women - at least for me it's not always the greatest thing.

---
I have a zero-tolerance policy for zero-tolerance policies, and this policy itself is the exception to itself which allows me to have it without being contradictory. - Happy Monkey
[ Parent ]

Common story (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by orangecutter on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:01:17 PM EST

Yep, that happened to me, too. And it happens to many people. I once went to see a stand-up comedian who made a self-depreciating joke about having women friends who you can't approach romatically. He got a huge laugh of recognition from a wide, young audience.

There's no answer to your comment, other than: forget about it and move on. Focus on being a decent person, who's nice to be with and trustworthy. The romantic things will develop by themselves when you least expect it. Don't try to manage it yourself.

Finally, as an aside, a word on dating agencies etc, if you're thinking of using them. While it's fun to use them, do go in with the attitude of it being a pleasant diversion, and nothing more. Don't pin to them hopes of marriage, or even meaningful relationships. Go on a date because it's a nice evening, and nothing more. Again, don't have expectations, just enjoy yourself and don't analyse it.

--
Sort out your work problems by talking to others
http://www.workkitchen.org
[ Parent ]

talk, you never know... (4.00 / 1) (#147)
by Mul Triha on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 10:40:53 AM EST

My current fiancee was one of my women friends. Oddly enough, at it turned out of the 5 or so women I hung out with at the time, she was the only one without romantic feelings for me.

You'd be amazed what planting the idea can do.
QUACK!
[ Parent ]

Point 6 is very often overlooked (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by jcolter on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:01:55 PM EST

I could not agree more with the orangecutter's sixth point.  You have to realize that every time you go out and do something, I will not necessarily be the banner evening that you had hoped.  Those are the breaks.

Some of the most fun and rewarding experiences that I have had were at events that I was not planning to have much fun at all.  Conversely, boring parties are not very uncommon.  Does that mean you should avoid parties?  Absolutely not!

I have a friend who frequently voices his desire to meet new people.  He has proven that he is unwilling to put himself in situations where he is not in complete control over his surroundings.

Last year he missed out on a giant pig roast in Upstate New York, because it was a couple of hundred miles from his apartment in the city, and he would be committing to an entire weekend.  The party was like a fucking beer commercial, and he missed it!  

If you do not want to miss the next pig roast, you need to go to several boring bars, rock shows, and cocktail parties.  That is how it works.


[ Parent ]

At a quick count (4.25 / 4) (#34)
by Rogerborg on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:39:42 PM EST

There are 51 self references in this article. This isn't intended as castigation, just a gentle reminder that people like people with interests outside of themselves.

On a positive note, have you tried finding local groups composed of people with similar interests? That gives you a safe subject to discuss until you get to know them. I assume that you want a mixed gender group, so how about a night class? Consider jewellery making - lots of women, mostly older, but hey, nothing wrong with an experienced woman, or a woman with a cute, shy daughter waiting for a Gentleman Caller. Or how about a reading or writing group, or a sport like archery, which is often done in clubs with a friendly and welcoming but non-intrusive atmosphere. I know it's an old saw, but what about a roleplaying club? Or if you want to jump in at the deep end, consider amateur dramatics - you can help out backstage, or with the A/V, you'll meet a great mix of people, and (being realistic) your chances of getting laid - sorry, I mean "finding that special lady" - are higher than with most other non-party events. ;-)

If you want a crib sheet, just remember that people will like you if you make them feel good about themselves, and if you don't put them under pressure. Try this:

  • Hi, how are you?
  • What's that you're doing?
  • Say, can I try that?
  • Can you show me how to XYZ
  • That's great! How long did it take you to learn that?

On the (initial) banned list are:

  • I'm sad / lonely / horny
  • I'm a complete failure.
  • I feel strongly about serious subject X

Yup, the secret to making a good first impression is sincerity. If you can fake that, the rest is easy. ;-)

I'm only half joking. It seems shallow, but a lot of good people get nervous if you get too deep too soon. Spread yourself shallow with a lot of people, and only give more to the ones that respond positively. At some point, you can cut back and then drop the act, and anybody still left is going to be a good friend.

Most of all, don't feel that there's nobody out there that wants to be your friend! If you're not making friends, it's most likely just because you haven't yet met people who are well suited to be compatible with you. Heck, if your last date was at 19, you were probably dating a girl. Now you can graduate to women, and that's a whole different story.

So work out what you're interested in, and go do it. Don't limit yourself to trying to make friends in your current age or peer group; friends can be anyone, of any age. Evaluate how good your job really is if it's "taking up your time". Make time, then when you find yourself with an engaging new hobby and a peer group that you can relate to, you can start re-prioritising your life. Or hell, throw yourself into your work for now and don't worry about it. You're only 23! You'll gain in confidence and social skills every day, and a lot of people don't meet and make their real lifelong friends until their 30's and 40's, when they know who they are and what they really want. It's all good.


"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

Oh, be more aggressive. (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by seebs on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:30:15 PM EST

You can always try some slightly pushier stuff, too:

* What's the largest penis you've ever seen?
* Is there a good bar around here?
* Wow, is that natural?
* Hi, my name is [...] and I feast on the blood of innocents.

Remember the meta-rule:  Icebreakers are themselves special-cased, and to some extent, the first thing you say can be out of bounds and tolerated simply because it was obviously a joke.

[ Parent ]

Remember the meta-meta-rule (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by Rogerborg on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:09:03 PM EST

    Remember the meta-rule: Icebreakers are themselves special-cased, and to some extent, the first thing you say can be out of bounds and tolerated simply because it was obviously a joke.

Better be very obvious, because you only get one first impression. The problem with a trick opening line is that you need tons of confidence to follow it up, and that doesn't apply in this case.


"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Heh (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by tjb on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 01:14:41 AM EST

My absolute favorite is:

"Why couldn't Helen Keller drive?"

Best relationship of my life followed when a girl replied "Because she was a woman, duh." :) (the correct answer, of course, but in the end, that wasn't meant to be)

Tim

[ Parent ]

Find people who want to be found (3.50 / 6) (#35)
by frankcrist on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 01:39:49 PM EST

Hey... great topic, potential for good discussion.. +1FP

If you're in a metropolitan area, I highly recommend searching out anarchists.  If you can hang with the politics (or lack thereof) and cynicism, you'll find that they can ironically be the most easy-going people around.  Some elitism, some snobbery, but if you get into the vein you'll generally be accepted.  And, hey, it's a good excuse to finally get that lime-green mohawk you've been jonsing.

One organization that you'll find a lot of these people (and a more general mix if this isn't your cuppa) is Critical Mass.  It's a bike ride that most metropolitan areas have once a month or so.  You don't have to have rabid politics, or a chip on your shoulder against SUV's to ride, just a love of riding your bike.

I guess these are answers to #3 above...  I don't see why not on #1, but no man is an island (etc)... whatever with #2 (green mohawk! do it!)

I hope this is helpful.  I used to be really anti-social until I just started saying "yes" to whatever I came across and getting myself into trouble.  Not the best way to crack through your shell perhaps (definitely didn't do my credit rating much good shrugs), but highly effective.  

Be fearless.

--x--x--x--x--x--
Get your war on!

Critical Mass (3.20 / 5) (#52)
by John Miles on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:47:27 PM EST

One organization that you'll find a lot of these people (and a more general mix if this isn't your cuppa) is Critical Mass.  

A few years back, Critical Mass was a gang of mongoloid asshats who would deliberately stall traffic on major highways in a tragically-misguided attempt to encourage people to support cycling instead of driving everywhere.  Needless to say, the backlash from legitimate cycling organizations as well as the public at large put them out of business PDQ.

I hadn't heard of Critical Mass since I was living in Austin during the first Bush administration.  Now I'm seeing "Critical Mass" logos all over Seattle.  Is this the same outfit?  If not, they've picked a seriously-tainted name for themselves.  Sorta like building a spiffy new video codec and calling it "Divx ;)".

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

I hope you took the suggestion in context (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by frankcrist on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:07:00 PM EST

Yes, it is probably the same organization, but I don't know about "mongoloid asshats"... I've never been to texas.

However, I hope you understand what I was getting at, which is that Critical Mass an easy place to meet people in a context where anyone who just showed up would be accepted.

"Why I don't care if you have to spend an extra 10 minutes on the freeway on a friday afternoon because we're having some fun" is a topic for a different discussion.

--x--x--x--x--x--
Get your war on!
[ Parent ]

Cool... (none / 0) (#63)
by John Miles on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:44:13 PM EST

Your '1' rating and deliberately-misleading recruiting spiel ("You don't have to have rabid politics, or a chip on your shoulder against SUV's to ride, just a love of riding your bike") pretty much confirms that we're both talking about the same group.

If history is anything to go by, anyone looking for social opportunities at Critical Mass would probably find better companionship and more sincerity at their local Scientology franchise.  However, if your goals are to hook up with a real clique of drooling fanatics, get yourself thrown in jail and your bike (hopefully) confiscated, and alienate the voting public towards cycling in general, then by all means, Critical Mass may be your kind of folks.  

Just don't confuse them with people who are genuinely interested in promoting cycling as an alternative to driving.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

well then.. (none / 0) (#72)
by frankcrist on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 04:15:31 PM EST

The "1" was for the flame.

I'd already stated we were talking about the same group, which you could have discovered in the parent by clicking on that link that said Critical Mass.  I'm certainly not trying to hide it.

I mentioned Critical Mass (as a tool to meet anarchists, who are fun) because Silent Chris was soliciting opinions on how to meet people, and my suggestion was get a little wild.

I'm not interested in discussing the motives (successful or not) of Critical Mass in this thread, however I will say, respectfully, that I am a little astonished that someone who is "within mortar range of the Microsoft campus in Redmond" would be so adverse to a little "mobile street theatre."  I'm sorry that we hurt your feelings or whatever, out there riding on our bikes, having a lot of fun when you were stuck in your car, having to pee or whatever, but get over it.

--x--x--x--x--x--
Get your war on!
[ Parent ]

Cool... (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by John Miles on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 04:35:46 PM EST

Hey, I'm already "over it."  I ride almost as much as I drive.  Each of my vehicles serves a useful role.  

All I would suggest is that you guys ask yourselves what you're hoping to accomplish.  More respect for cycling, right?  More public accommodation for cycling?  More lanes and trails?  More cycling- and pedestrian-friendly urban design?  Me, too, but whether we like it or not, we live in a representative democracy, and the people that CM members go out of their way to piss off are the same people who vote on roads and bike lanes and trails.  

In short, we have to live with people in cars.  Nothing you or I or Critical Mass can do will ever change that.  Why start a war that we know we can't win?  Life isn't Fight Club, for better or worse.

Not to mention the fact that I don't want the Redneck Brigade chucking beer bottles at my head when I'm riding because they've tarred me with the CM brush ("Bunch of spandex-wearin' commie pussies," etc.)  Back in CM's heyday in the 80s, you guys made life harder for recreational/commuter cyclists like myself, and that's not what you want to do.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

Not the reply I was expecting... (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by frankcrist on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 07:13:36 PM EST

Fair enough.  We don't have a whole lot of beer can chucking rednecks here in Chicago, but we do have a whole lot of very reckless and inconsiderate drivers.  Also, yuppie culture has totally taken hold, and it's a gung-ho, do-or-die, my-way-or-the-highway kind of atmosphere.

When we ride in Critical Mass, and I speak only for Chicago which is the only place I've ridden, yeah we ride on the freeways 600 bikes at a time for maybe 3 exits or so and then we get off.  We run red lights and block traffic so the pack can go by, all without the benefit of a parade liscense.  But what we don't do is just totally be rude about it.  We'll park right in front of cars so others can go by, but we're not throwing stuff, we're not scratching cars or destroying Starbucks's.  We hand out pamphlets to drivers -- everything from manifestos on why (some people) hate cars; fake tickets for SUV drivers; articles on Dubya's colon cancer "probing."  We aren't a bunch of Black Bloc, bomb-tossing nihilists, and I resent the type-casting.

It is pointless to argue with you whether or not CM achieves (one of) it's purpose of cycling awareness.  Obviously you've had some sort of negative experience in Austin, where it seems the bikers don't have quite the restraint as here, or are loathed by the local sherriff, or whatever, and I know for a fact it can get a bit rowdy in SF.  However, one thing I will stick by is that it's a great place to meet people.  Here in Chicago I have met everyone from knock-down-drag-out partiers, to families (kids on the ride!), to lawyers and other professionals.  I meet people while riding on the street that I saw in the ride from the previous month and it's an instant ice-breaker.

And so, thousands of words later, I hope I have piqued Silent Chris's interest, and he has the opportunity to participate in one of these mildly controversial, highly entertaining and wildly exhiliarating events.

--x--x--x--x--x--
Get your war on!
[ Parent ]

another suggestion (4.66 / 3) (#65)
by tps12 on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:53:12 PM EST

If you are in the US, you can try becoming a gangster. You'll need a teardrop tattoo in the corner of your eye, and a little gold, and you might need some new pants. Also get a weapon, preferably a gat, though knives also work. Now pick some colors and start hanging! You should have homies in no time.

[ Parent ]
learn NLP (1.75 / 4) (#39)
by krkrbt on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:07:48 PM EST

Nuero Linguistic Programming, it's powerful stuff.  "The Psychology of Excellence" - These two guys, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, back in the 70's, wanted to figure out what it was that certain super-successful therapists did, that made them so successful at what they did.  Viginia Satir (sp?) was the best family-therapist of her era, at a time when family-therapy wasn't even considered legit.  Milton Erickson, the greatest hypnotist that's ever lived, could hypnotize a room full of people skeptical of the legitimacy of hypnosis, just by telling a story.   (there's also a third guy whose name I'm forgetting at the moment). So in talking with these people Bandler & Grinder found out what it was specifically that these people did to make them effective, and developed "modeling" around that.  

So, get a book, get some video tapes.  It's kinda difficult to find a good NLP practitioner, as the standards for getting a Practitioner's Certificate have gone way down since the early 80's (it used to take 6 months & you had to demonstrate that you knew your shit, now you can get a piece of paper in a week).  NLP:  The New Technology of Achievement is probably the best book out there at the present time - it has most of what you need to really help yourself.

My one complaint, though, with this & most other books, is that it presupposes the ability to relax & [conciously] visualize.  You need to be able to do these, to be able to get the most out of NLP, when working on yourself.  The Fast Phobia Cure, et al, work much better if you can conciously get those pictures up on your mental screen.. And if you presently don't much visualize, don't worry, because that's something everyone can learn, with a little effort.

Here's a random page out of my bookmarks, with more info on NLP:  http://www.nlp-now.co.uk/tips-n-tech.htm


NLP is over-rated (none / 0) (#48)
by bhouston on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:32:42 PM EST

NLP is half psychology and half marketing speak. I think that people benefit from the psychology stuff but they don't need it wrapped in such a commerical package.

A good communication-oriented psychology text book for the lay person is "Understanding Human Communication" by Rodman & Adler.

[ Parent ]
The NLP "trademark" has been diluted (2.00 / 1) (#57)
by krkrbt on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:15:58 PM EST

... Bandler tried to trademark NLP, but he was unable to, because it was too generic & it'd been used by too many people, for too long.

A good communication-oriented psychology text book for the lay person is "Understanding Human Communication" by Rodman & Adler.

not to be an ass or anything, but what would reading this book do for me?  NLP:  The New Technology of Achievement (which I meant to say is the "best NLP introduction/beginner's book out there...) has 43 "exercises" to go along with each of the 12 chapters,  which are titled:

  1. Changing Your Mind
  2. What is NLP?
  3. Getting Motivated
  4. Discovering Your Mission
  5. Achieving Your Goals
  6. Creating Rapport and Strong Relationships
  7. Powerful Persuasion Strategies
  8. Eliminating Your Fears and Phobias
  9. Building Self Confidence
  10. Creating Self-Appreciation and Self-Esteem
  11. Securing a Positive Mental Attitude
  12. Achieving Peak Performance

Of course, if you don't do the exercises, you won't get the skills alluded to by the above names..  But isn't that a desirable feature in a book?  "This is what you have to do to get motivated, build confidence, create strong relationships, appreciate yourself, ..." - which I think is much more practical than some academic text, however well it may be written...

[ Parent ]
An "anecdotal" story... (none / 0) (#139)
by cr0sh on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 08:01:03 PM EST

Nuero Linguistic Programming, it's powerful stuff.

From my point of view, that is THE understatement of the year.

Unless you are speaking about a different form of NLP from that which I am familiar with, NLP has the possibility of massively fucking you up, to say the least. How do I know this?

A couple of years ago I went "garage saleing" (ie, going to tag sales) in San Diego - and happened upon a roadside garage sale of sorts that I stopped at. The people running the sale were mexican, and couldn't speak a lick of english. No big deal, if they have something good to sell and would take my money, more power to 'em. Anyhow, after looking through the stuff they had, I noticed a pile of books, and three particularly caught my eye - they all looked to be part of a set:

Colorful, somewhat swirly "psychedelic" covers, all written by the same authors, they looked like some funk from the 1970's - which they were. One was called something like "The Princess and the Frog" or something (I don't have the book handy right now), and they all dealt with something called "Neural Linguistic Programming". Seeing this, and reading the first few bits of introduction, I surmised that they had to do with some crazy "mind-fucking" self-help from the 1970's, and I had to have them. I was, and still am, into the ideas of "neuro-hacking", especially things involving bio-feedback, "brainwave" machines, lucid dreaming, and anything that combines them all. The idea of being able to use NLP to gain advantages and insights appealed to me (still does). I purchased the books - and to this day I wonder how these books survived not being thrown out in the trash, and owned by a group of mexicans in San Diego who couldn't speak english. However, I chalked that up to high-strangeness left over from the 70's, took my books, and left.

Fast-forward a few days - I decide that I should start reading those books right away. I started to read the first book, going through the examples, trying various things - and don't you know, some of it actually works. But as I read the book, I also felt (in some strange fashion) that I was changing (in my mind), but I couldn't pin it down. I was talking about this NLP stuff to everyone, how it works, etc. I was about halfway through the book, when my fiance (at the time, now my wife) told me, point blank, to stop reading the book, that for some reason after reading that book, I was changing, and it wasn't a "good" change. I had to agree with her. I stopped reading the book, and things (the way I felt, mainly) went "back" to what they were before I started reading the book.

I have never experienced such a thing before. I find it daunting and somewhat strange for a book to have (cause?) such an influence. I have contemplated in the past trying LSD to see what "pathways" it might open, and recently even Salvia (after reading about it intensely to know what I would get into), but I have so far steered clear due to what happened to me while reading this book. The strange thing is that I realise that a book (an inanimate object) doesn't have an inherent power, but I tend to wonder if NLP is really something, and if the authors, in some manner, managed to encode NLP practices into a textual 2D medium. If so, the idea and ramifications (should NLP be something real, which I think it is) are staggering.

One of these days I plan to go back to that book, and see what happens again. If a similar effect occurs (or if I can somehow control it) - the possibilities it would open up would be amazing. These books are most certainly among the strangest group of books I have on my bookshelf.

[ Parent ]

It's easy! (3.33 / 9) (#43)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:22:48 PM EST

Just follow ESR's Sex Tips for Geeks!

--em

ESR is not a geek (3.00 / 1) (#67)
by psychologist on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 04:00:56 PM EST

From his picture, he looks like some kind of pervert white trash hilly billy. His sex tips probably involve a beer bottle.

[ Parent ]
Sucky. (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by RofGilead on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 08:31:02 PM EST

His "howto" actually is pretty decent. Its better than posting the same story multiple times and having everyone rehash the same ideas.

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon
[ Parent ]
good heavens (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by adequate nathan on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 08:52:49 AM EST

The horrid and hobgoblinish ESR's "howto" conjures up the image of some g**k tinkering with his hapless girlfriend's clitoris like a broken lawnmower engine. "Oh, how can I get this damn thing to fire on all cylinders," you can practically hear him exclaim.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

that is truly disturbing /nt (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by tps12 on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 04:03:39 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I liked the HOWTO guide he posted a lot better (3.00 / 1) (#126)
by morkeleb on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 07:19:09 AM EST

than this however, which I've seen being passed around more frequently.
"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
[ Parent ]
How I started to break out of my shell (4.50 / 2) (#46)
by jerfgoke on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:30:12 PM EST

I am a fairly shy individual. Back in my senior year of high school, I was voted "most quiet" in the yearbook, and probably for good reason. I might have raised my hand in class to answer a question under 5 times ever in all my years of schooling. This most likely stemmed from a lack of confidence in myself and/or depression, which in my opinion is the cause of most shyness or social unease.

Thankfully, I had a few extremely close friends during that time. The point where I finally started to notice change, however, was when I was talked into joining the cross country running team. The nice thing about running is that its a sport anybody can do because it doesn't require anything other than sheer willpower. (Plus, it's a co-ed sport, unlike most of them in high school.) Working toward a common goal made the team extremely close-knit and I made some close friends during that time. Plus, athletic ability is usually fairly attractive to the opposite sex, male and female both.

So I made lots of friends, and when I graduated, decided to attend a large university to meet more new people. The problem was that I went into "shy mode" as soon as I was thrust into the new situation. I was on AOL instant messenger every night for about five hours, which was a serious problem. I didn't make many friends because I was too attached to home.

At some point I gave up and decided that I really wanted to meet new people. I tried a few parties but being mashed in a crowd of drunk guys and girls was not my idea of fun. I wanted to make friends, not party.

A year later, after a few events back at home caused me to stop talking to some of my friends there, I gave up instant messenger for good-- cold turkey. I volunteered to lead study groups for organic chemistry and worked in the chem lab. Both of these things forced me to learn to be assertive and be more confident in my speaking/leadership abilities. I knew the subject well, so now was my chance to step up to the plate, so to speak, and prove it. These two things worked wonders and I met some of my close female friends that way.

But I still didn't have the really close friends I wanted. I decided to give church another try, after getting fed up with it at one point in my life. I met a lot of great people there who really care about me and are genuine in their friendship. This is crucial.

The one thing I've learned through all of this though, is that it is really easy to overestimate how much other people care about the people around them. What I mean is that most "shy-type" people are so introverted that they are constantly thinking about what others think and how "normal" they are because they only have X-number of friends. Instead of wondering what others think of me, I realize now that most people just don't care about me, the people around them, or friendship as much as I do. With this, I've learned to "ration" my energy on the "fringe" friends and spend the time writing really heartfelt e-mail or letters to people who actually care about me.

If you express friendship to somebody and it isn't returned, move on to somebody else. Don't be rude about it, but honestly, there are plenty of people out there just like you that would be thrilled to spend time getting to know you.



AIM = evil (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by MMcP on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:42:05 PM EST

Isn't life so much better without AIM?  I very quickly realized the lameness that AIM is - it is NOT social interaction.  AIM is in fact a combination of all the worst forms of communication:  It lacks the emotional involvment of face-to-face or even phone while operating at a pace that prevents most people from putting any emotion into words.

I spent about 4 months on the AIM bandwagon and can truly say I feel worse off because of it.

[ Parent ]

I completely agree (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by jerfgoke on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:34:27 PM EST

After having many horrible experiences with AIM, my friends and I came to the same conclusion that it is a tool of the devil. Not only did it make us feel more lonely after chatting on it, it often caused us to spend more time online, which added to the loneliness because we had no offline friends. That, and people often misinterpret emotions and simple statements can get taken the wrong way. I lost a lot of friends like that. I never saw a single good thing come about due to the program, though I saw many friendships get broken or disrupted.



[ Parent ]
YES (4.00 / 1) (#108)
by MMcP on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 10:02:40 PM EST

YESYESYESYESYES

It takes an author serious time to put emotion behind words, and the average Joe is expected to do the same instantaneously?  

I actually think I am better at putting emotion into AIM conversations then Joe Average and still get frustrated at how bland they turn out.

[ Parent ]

IRC is the same.. (4.00 / 1) (#140)
by reflective recursion on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 10:18:48 PM EST

I used IRC extensively from about 1995 to 1999.  I barely go on IRC today, from fear of gaining that worthless addiction.  Fortunately, I saw the same pattern of IRC addiction in ICQ/AIM and avoided them.  Another type of "trap" is online gaming, such as Quake.  Q3 has been one of my latest addictions, but not nearly as bad as IRC.  While doing the activity is fine and good, you end up neglecting your physical, "real" life.  I try to restict myself to delayed communcations, such as K5, email, etc..  Web logs are fast approaching a new addiction, though...

[ Parent ]
purpose of instant messaging (4.50 / 2) (#71)
by tps12 on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 04:09:35 PM EST

I find instant messaging for quick jokes and bullshitting with those I know very well already in real life. I IM family members and friends from school of whom I don't see a lot. The key thing to remember is that its utility depends on your previous interactions with those people, and that it is only there to tide you over until you can see them in real life again.

IRC, on the other hand...who knows what that's for. I use it to try to make people laugh.

[ Parent ]

Again, (4.75 / 4) (#51)
by thadk on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:44:52 PM EST

We have thoroughly hashed out this topic in "Meditations on Involuntary Celebacy" and "Re-engineering the Glass Heart."

Anyone interested in this topic should definitely go over there and check those threads out. I'm disappointed SC didn't link to those in the body, too.

(posted a similar ed. comment a second before the story went live.)



Sort of (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by pexatus on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:20:57 PM EST

Those were more to do with romantic relationships in particular. In my opinion, making friends is not the same problem as making boy/girlfriends, though they share some common sub-problems.

[ Parent ]
Try a.s.s. (4.42 / 7) (#53)
by epepke on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 02:53:38 PM EST

Alt.support.shyness, that is. I doubt you're going to get much focused help here. But, when I was fixing my shyness problem years ago, I benefited from that group a lot. I hung around for several years after I fixed myself up, looking at what people did, and what works, and what doesn't. I also posted a lot, and some people benefited from that.

Here I'll just point out the biggest problem that everybody faces; it's implicit in your questions:

  1. Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?
  2. Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?
  3. How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

You cannot answer 3, and no answer will be of any value whatsoever, until you have dismissed 1 and 2 as invalid questions. Basically, there are two approaches. Approach A goes like this:

  1. Figure out what you are going to do. Base this entirely on what you want. If you think you need something, reconstruct is as a want. Give yourself permission to want it. Be willing to pay the costs (emotional and otherwise) to get what you want, and stay on target.
  2. Figure out how to do it. Some small amount of information on possible approaches can come from other people. The vast majority comes from trial and error and educated guesses. This will probably cause a certain amount of pain and blind terror; this is part of the cost that you will already have decided to pay, but various palliatives such as self-hypnosis and benzodiazepines can be helpful. The technical aspects are the easy part.
  3. Go do it. A lot of people will try to get in your way. From Howard Jones: "You just try being/free my friend, everyone will/hate your guts/I only want to be free." Ignore them.
  4. Enjoy your life.

Approach B involves thinking about your questions 1 and 2. Especially 2. This naturally leads to various thoughts and emotions, all of which are destructive. I am not accusing you of doing these things, just explaining what's down the road. Anger and resentment toward society or toward extroverts. Pleading behaviors toward other people (which are inherently unattractive). Decisions that extroverts are jerks and bad, leading to a feeling of moral superiority over them and an unwillingness to exhibit extroverted behavior on the grounds that it would compromise the superior moral status. Overestimation of the good one has to offer accompanied by underestimation of the give-and-take of real relationships. Inability to do the practice necessary to understand socialization. Hurting other people a lot, due both to pain reflexes and simple ignorance, and being either totally unaware of the fact. Thinking in terms of "blame" and "fault" and "deserving." Continuing self-destructuve and counterproductive behaviors because they are "justified" rather than constructive. Getting angry at people who make suggestions that cause you to feel fear. Trying to prove to people that it's hopeless. Picking at emotional scabs, wearing your heart on your sleeve. Going through books on shyness picking out the things that you prejudicially decide won't or can't work rather than looking for things to try. Thumbing through the DSM-IV or other materials finding labels for yourself. (Asperger's Syndrome is currently most popular; before that it was ADHD and Bipolar.) Making shyness or introversion or something else part of your basic identity and a prop for personal pride. Telling everyone who answers a question, "Oh, so you're the high and mighty expert, Mr. Smartass? I don't buy it." Saying, "Oh, that's fine for Nietschean Supermen, but I'm just a human being, you asshole." Declaring everything you see pseudoscience. Making everyone prove everything to you before you try it, and if they're naive enough to try, poking holes in the logic and saying "Hah!". And then, when they get tired of these games, blaming them for "abandoning" you. And then it's I have no friends, and the cycle of addiction goes 'round again. All of these thoughts and behaviors provide temporary relief and good feelings and protect ego boundaries at the cost of a relentless self-destructive path.

A and B are mutually exclusive. B kills A dead. Even a small amount of B kills A dead. It should be clear that I personally prefer A. I warn you, though, that mine is a minority opinion.

People I've seen choose A make progress. It isn't linear and it isn't constant; there are setbacks that feel like shit, but after a year or so of hard work there's usually a significant improvement of life. Occasionally, people switch from B to A. Usually this happens when they become completely exhausted and burnt out from the bitterness, when they hit the absolute bottom and bounce back up. This is not the fun way. Others sometimes switch from B to A spontaneously. Others have luck--somebody in their lives cares enough about them not to offer sympathy but to give them an emotional slap in the face that sometimes does the trick. But you can't expect luck, because that's a B strategy. People who switch from B to A, after they have made the switch, look back at what they used to do with astonishment and disgust. For those who don't get out of it, B becomes a progressive addiction, leading to increased bitterness, anger, and unhappiness.

The fun way is don't do B. Don't go there. If you feel yourself wanting to go there, or argue that it's hard not to, or that your anger is justified, or whatever, stop it.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


Generalisations (4.00 / 1) (#82)
by greenrd on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:28:47 PM EST

You cannot answer 3, and no answer will be of any value whatsoever, until you have dismissed 1 and 2 as invalid questions.

They are not invalid questions! Vague, yes, but simple enough. They are clearly valid, and the answers are clearly:

  1. Depends on the person, but yes.
  2. No, it's not wrong. I don't think a person should necessarily go into guilt trips over their own shyness (unless it impacts on some external moral issue). But in general, the only question is "do I want to remain this way?" That's a question of personal preference, not of moral right or wrong.
This naturally leads to various thoughts and emotions, all of which are destructive. I am not accusing you of doing these things, just explaining what's down the road.

"There are only two types of people in the world, those who make bogus generalisations, and those who don't." ;-)

I'm not convinced by your anecdotal examples. If I wish to avoid approach A - i.e. chasing after socialisation and girls which on some level I "want" - which according to you involves probably "a certain amount of pain and blind terror" (no thanks!!), I'm not convinced that this will lead to me e.g. "Hurting other people a lot, due both to pain reflexes and simple ignorance, and being either totally unaware of the fact." Perhaps you are invalidly extrapolating from your own experiences. Do you have a peer-reviewed study on that? ;-) Or perhaps you could explain further with an example?

Others have luck--somebody in their lives cares enough about them not to offer sympathy but to give them an emotional slap in the face that sometimes does the trick.

I think - naively perhaps - that both sympathy and an emotional slap in the face can sometimes be helpful, at different times. It's very hit and miss, however. But if someone's sympathetic to me I'm perhaps less likely to react angrily and irrationally, and that's important. Again, depends on the person. (Almost every psychological generalisation should be mentally suffixed with "But it depends on the person.")

If you feel yourself wanting to go there, or argue that it's hard not to, or that your anger is justified, or whatever, stop it.

It may be hard not to go there partly because I think it is, but it is hard for me not to go with approach B, and don't you try to make me ignore what I know is true.

My case is complicated because I have issues with feelings of moral superiority towards meat-eaters (see my recent k5 article for details on how I feel about that), rather than "extroverts", so I doubt anyone here can help me. I'm sure plenty of people can pointlessly flame me, but...


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Thanks! (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by epepke on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:41:00 PM EST

I tried to be moderately comprehensive in my description of B behaviors, but thanks for the further demonstration. Mostly you just went through the script, but you bring up another one: Always accuse people of making bogus generalizations. This is a really good one, because one of the skills in learning how to socialize effectively is by recognizing identifiable patterns in socialization. Dismissing patterns as generalizations is an extremely effective way of avoiding noticing them, let alone being able to use them. It's also highly Moral, because the Fairy Tale is "everyone is unique" and "it will happen when you least expect it." I don't know why I didn't remember that one; it's so common.

It may be hard not to go there partly because I think it is, but it is hard for me not to go with approach B, and don't you try to make me ignore what I know is true.

What a lovely demonstration! Many people would just flame, but as you show, it is far subtler to work the presumption of enmity into a sentence almost as an afterthought. It's not as good as "when are you going to stop beating your wife?" but it's still pretty good. "Don't you try to make me"? Ooh, booga booga! As if.

I wouldn't dream of trying to make you do anything. Even if I cared enough to put in the effort, I have long since learned that it is utterly pointless to argue against people who are arguing for their own limitations. Congratulations! You're right! They're yours! Have a nice life. Or don't. Whatever. Just don't try to do anything hard in life because it would be, like, not easy. And remember--the next fix of anything is always easier than breaking the addiction, so the choice is obvious! Thinking about how hard something is makes it seem harder, which is a fantastic way to make the easy choice more "justifiable."


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Bogus generalisations (none / 0) (#98)
by greenrd on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 07:20:40 PM EST

Always accuse people of making bogus generalizations. This is a really good one, because one of the skills in learning how to socialize effectively is by recognizing identifiable patterns in socialization.

Good point. However, I don't know you from Adam, and I don't know how good you are at recognising such patterns accurately.

Dismissing patterns as generalizations is an extremely effective way of avoiding noticing them, let alone being able to use them.

I see your point. Such dismissals can be used to post-hoc rationalise one's desires not to follow a herd pattern. However, there is such a thing as overgeneralising, and some people make bogus generalisations because of their limited social circle, as you will surely agree.

What a lovely demonstration! Many people would just flame, but as you show, it is far subtler to work the presumption of enmity into a sentence almost as an afterthought.

Well, you said (paraphrasing) "If you try to argue that it's too hard, stop it". The sentence is intended to recommend a particular course of action - it's unclear what, but it seemed to me that you were saying "Disregard your feelings that it is too hard".

My feelings that it is too hard are absolutely, for me, the central issue. So I can't just disregard them with a snap of the fingers. But it looked to me like you were trying to tell the reader to "shut up" if they thought of arguing that it was too hard.

That sounds like the old English "stiff upper lip" approach to personal problems. That approach goes like this: Any problem, don't listen, just respond with "Stop whining, grow some balls, and fuck off."

I wouldn't dream of trying to make you do anything.

I meant "make me" it in the sense of "stop trying to make me by persuading me". When you try to tell someone to ignore something you are trying to make them ignore it, in a sense. Put it this way: either you have an intention in writing "stop arguing that it's too hard", or you don't. If you don't, why write it, and if you do, then you intend for those you are advising to follow it.

Anyway I should stop quibbling over one little word. Of course there is no significant force involved, of course.

And remember--the next fix of anything is always easier than breaking the addiction, so the choice is obvious!

That's interesting - I'd never looked at it as an addiction before.

Just don't try to do anything hard in life because it would be, like, not easy.

You seem to me to be implying that something being hard is not a good reason to avoid it. I think that is patently absurd! One has to weigh up advantages and disadvantages, and for me at the moment it seems the pain would outweigh the gain. For me.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

If you're feeling adventurous and have some money (4.50 / 2) (#58)
by pexatus on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:17:55 PM EST

Travel. Go to Europe. If you're from Europe, go to Australia, or a different part of Europe. Just like you, I am usually shy around strangers. This is a problem for us shy people because in most situations where we don't know anyone, most of the people around us know someone else and will therefore not be as inclined to take the initiative and talk to us, or even to feel like talking to us if we take the initiative.

When you go backpacking, most of the places you stay will have lots of people just like you, who came to this new city by themselves and don't know anyone else either. Because not all of them are shy, you'll have a much easier time meeting people. They don't know you. They have no reason to prefer anyone else's company over yours, so you're on equal ground with all the people you are usually envious of. If you find yourself getting bored or lonely after staying at a hostel for a few days, leave. Go to another city. That's the beautiful part. You can examine and discard social scenes as if they were produce at the grocery store. I went to Australia by myself for a semester, which is not the kind of thing I do (it sort of happened by accident). Traveling around I met some of the coolest people without even trying, because part of the reason any of them were there was to meet new people.

One problem with this is not making friends who live near you, since most of the backpackers also don't stay for longer than a few weeks. Which brings me to my next point: maybe you'll travel through 10 different cities and decide to want to move to one of them. Hell, even if you move back to your current city, maybe your life will be that much improved by being able to see some of the long-distance friends you made once or twice a year (depending on the distance), and your situation back home won't be as unbearable anymore.

I know it sounds scary. It's like you wanted to know how to build a model airplane and I gave you the blueprints to the SR-71. But trust me, social butterflies at the bars and parties are not inherently interested in you just because you're there. The people you stay with in a hostel are (with some exceptions, but that's why you set aside at least a month or two to do traveling). I won't even go to the bar down the street from my apartment by myself unless I know my friends are there, but I would go backpacking in a different country by myself.

If you're going to Australia, go to Melbourne. Socially, that is the best city I have ever visited.

hmm.. (4.00 / 2) (#59)
by lucid on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 03:20:35 PM EST

You have 32 diary entries, and are yet somehow supershy? Just curious.

I've had problems similar to those you've described. I guess I just grew out of my shy tendencies. I'm still working on it. Others have suggested using your sense of humor, and you should listen to them. Be careful, however. I used my sense of humor to make people notice me and to make my points, but my points became sharper over the years. I have alienated and offended people with this before. I don't necessarily mind, since many of the people I've offended are as useful and meaningful to me as a road apple. Just be careful.

On to your questions.

Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

Are you asking me for some kind of minimum for close ties? Am I going to say, when I'm 103, that life would have been more fulfilling if I had had just one more friend? Are you?

Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?

It is "wrong" to "use" "quotes" "excessively." This is the second of your questions where I feel like asking you what you're really trying to find out. I think you're asking if you have enough friends again. I don't know, but since you're asking, probably not.

How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

How does anyone meet someone else? If you have something to offer, ask Adam Smith. You have a job, so I assume you work with people there. Start talking to some of them. Get their attention using your sense of humor. Earn their admiration by being competent. Earn their thanks by doing things for them. Then, perhaps, you will meet some of them.

Sense of humor.



Diary entries (4.00 / 1) (#102)
by Silent Chris on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 08:32:02 PM EST

To me, writing is much easier.  I've always written, whether it be for fun or profit.  In a lot of cases, I think the time factor (letting myself think before uttering a sentence) helps.  Perhaps more importantly, I can go back and edit conversations -- you can't really do that in real life.

[ Parent ]
True happiness (4.80 / 5) (#80)
by jolly st nick on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:09:17 PM EST

First, eliminate the possibility that you have a psychological problem. Shyness so severe it cripples you socially and undermines your personal relationships is a psychological disorder, and you can basically give up reading this and all other responses to your article, because they aren't going to help with your underlying problem. You need treatment.

If you are not suffering from a psychological disorder, then you are suffering from an existential one. Such crises are not uncommon at around your age. If this is the case, you need to decide what true happiness means for you and pursue that end in the company of like minded people.

1. Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

Yes. However you clearly are not that person.

2. Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?

Of course not, if you are happy and doing nobody else harm. But if you are obsessing about what "normal" is, not only are you not normal (at least if it persists into the next stage of your life as you are establishing yourself in the world), but you are bound to be unhappy. It is also likely that your sense of what is "normal" will increasingly depart from reality. In reality, the degree to which beer and parties play a major role in ones social life drops precipitously after most people leave school, and even more so throughout their twenties.

What is normal and healthy is for people to develop at least a few stable and fulfilling relationships (with or without a zymurgical component).

3. How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

Super shy people meet other people the way anybody meets other people. As an old thinkgeek poster proclaims, "The only constant in all of your unsatisfying relationships is you".The problem I've seen with my shy friends is that they rationalize avoiding people and even sabotaging their relationships to avoid rejection. If this is happening, you clearly have a psychological condition that requires treatment.

Assuming your problem is social and not psychological, the first rule in meeting and having friends (of any kind) is contagion. You can't have friends if you don't meet people. This happens much less automatically once you leave school, and if you've deployed a defensive personality mine field around yourself then it won't happen at all. On the positive side, you can increase contagion by seeking out occaisions (such as events at your local library) in which you can meet people.

The second rule is that if other people are important to you, you have to start acting that way. This means you don't let old friends drop off your radar screen. If you have a potentially relationship killing argument, you stand up and take the blame for everything you can justly take the blame for. It means you must attend to mending fences. Don't look up your old friends (girlfriends included) with the intent that they begin fulfilling you as they once did, look them up, but with the intent that you will make good anything you owe them. This must be done with a sense of personal honor and a decent self-regard, though. It's no good to say "I need this from you so I'll act like I'm to blame," rather "I owe this to you despite any claim I have on you."

The third rule is to be attractive. This means, paying some minimal attention to grooming and hygeine (that is things like bathing rather than being a fashion plate). Also, it means being psycholgically attractive. Not acting needy or clingy, but being geninuinely interested in other people and showing it.

Life if full of paradoxes and ironies. You have tenuous connections with other people, which leads to a sense that there is something wrong with yourself. True happiness is almost the diametric opposite of this state: to feel personally fulfilled and have strong connections to other people. Each of these opposite states are reinforced by a positive feedback loop: personal fulfilment leads to more satisfying relationships with other people, which in turn leads to greater personal fulfilment. A sense of personal inadequacy weakens our connections to others, which makes us feel more inadequate.

I've tried to be helpful here, but I have a feeling I haven't succeeded, or that it may not even be possible. What you are looking for may not be found here.

OK he is asking for advice but... (4.50 / 2) (#83)
by greenrd on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:38:09 PM EST

Yes. However you clearly are not that person.

I wouldn't be so sure. Perhaps he could have a perfectly fulfilling life this way, but he irrationally feels that society, or people close to him, "expect" him to socialise more and therefore he must.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Perhaps (4.00 / 1) (#105)
by jolly st nick on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 09:31:38 PM EST

But it is one thing to choose the life you wish, even if it is unconventional or apparently antisocial. It is another thing to contract the scope of your wishes because you lack self confidence.

[ Parent ]
The Wall (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by dipierro on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:22:52 PM EST

How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

Watch "The Wall". Then go out and do the opposite of everything that Pink does. Whenever you start slipping, rent the movie, and watch it again, and be happy that you started solving your problem when you were only 23.



Aha (4.00 / 3) (#85)
by MKalus on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 05:58:56 PM EST

Well,

that sounds vaguly familiar what you are saying here.

Difference is though: I am not really shy, I just don't necessarily like to haggle with people all the time.

How many "friends" do I have? I would say right now the number would be 0, I move too much and I am too busy, I have ton's of aquaintances but that's as far as it goes, true friends? None.

Does this make me unhappy? Yes and no, at times I wonder why I don't just hang out with a bunch of people I know, but then I tend to realize that most people I can only endure in small dosages.

One of the things I got suggested once was: Take up a sport, meet other people that way.

I followed that advice: I started Triathlon, which must be one of the lonliest sports there is, yet at the same time there is a strong sense of community between the people who are doing it.

So my "tip" would be: Pick up a sport, meet people and let things happen, I don't think you can "force" a friendship.

Just my 2 cents, your mileage can and will vary.

Triathalon? (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by PTBear on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 09:52:23 PM EST

Man, when someone tells you to take up a sport you don't mess around! What's wrong with tennis or golf?

----------------------------------------

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

-Attributed to Sigmund Freud
[ Parent ]

I hate Tennis... (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by MKalus on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 02:53:44 PM EST

.... too much running (yeah yeah, joke) with no goal.

And no, I tend not to mess around.

Golf I tried, it was fun to play it once, but it's just not really my thing.

Now, Racing (as long as it has two wheels) is another thing, but I like the combination in Triathlon :)

Michael

[ Parent ]

Smoking Pot (3.00 / 4) (#87)
by FuriousXGeorge on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:32:19 PM EST

Has done a pretty good job of helping me make friends.

--
-- FIELDISM NOW!

That is very good avice actually..... (3.00 / 1) (#90)
by morkeleb on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:45:21 PM EST

I talk like crazy to anyone when I'm high.
"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
[ Parent ]
"An Interesting Drug, the one that you took.. (none / 0) (#168)
by Fandango on Sat Jul 20, 2002 at 07:30:03 PM EST

tell the truth, it really really helped you" - Morrissey lyric :)

I can relate to a lot of what's being said here, I won't tell you my life story, but in brief, no I've never taken medical drugs for it (My melancholy/shyness/depression/*whatever) but I have had psychological help and a fair bit of counselling too.

It's been long term (I'm 27 now), I've missed PLENTY of irreplacable life opportunities, don't have a career to speak of, haven't had much in the way of long term relationships, and have a social circle I feel is too small. Don't get out enough. It's still a struggle.

The one thing I can honestly say is that weed can help (I wish I had 'inhaled' at university)!. Being sociable is hard! Feigning confidence is harder & sometimes pointless, be more honest... when I'm stoned I can see that it really doesn't matter, other people can understand what you are going through on some instinctive level. I find it conducive to honesty with others & vice versa. It makes you happy for NO reason. It can get you talking & boost your sense of confidence.

The main thing I observe to a much more acute degree when stoned is the complex relationships between people. This can be good (realising that certain friends & acquaintances DO actully give a shit about you, as much as you would expect them to if  only you could see through your own self-doubt at times). Realising that you can start conversations with strangers, it's quite normal behaviour and you can usually find something to say too!

But also can be bad. Ever wanted to not be there when a couple are obviously not treating each other kindly anymore? Ever realised that somebody is actually slighting you, but you have never picked up on it before due to the subtlety of their insults?

In summing up. Try it! You won't go mad, you may feel a bit different afterwards, you get used to the bullshit/enlightenings common to the experiences. I don't overdo it (well, only sometimes ;-) but even when I do I can *function* the day afterwards. I always hated getting drunk (it makes me desperate, which, in turn lowers my self-esteem, weed helps me think & appreciate life).

*Also. Don't recommend Resin (just dirty, gets you sorta high but feels harmful to health).

[ Parent ]

Really? (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by TheSleeper on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:54:59 PM EST

Personally, I've found that pot sharpens my anxieties and thus makes me quieter in social situations -- if anything, the effect is the opposite of the inhibition-lowering that one normally gets from alcohol.

OTOH, most of the times I've smoked around others were early in my pot-smoking career, when I tended to get somewhat anxious whether or not I was in the company of others. Also, the last time I smoked in a social situation was when I was visiting a friend in Colombia. So I was slightly nervous about the kidnapping horror stories I'd heard. This got magnified quite a bit when I partook of the cheap, plentiful weed one finds there, which sucked.

It occurs to me now that maybe you're sort of just trolling Silent Chris, since he's pretty anti-drug, and that my response seems rather amusingly earnest in that light. But, what the hell, I'll hit 'Post' anyways.

[ Parent ]

really (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by dipierro on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 07:12:15 PM EST

Personally, I've found that pot sharpens my anxieties and thus makes me quieter in social situations -- if anything, the effect is the opposite of the inhibition-lowering that one normally gets from alcohol.

Yeah, but if you're the type that's anxious in social situations anyway, it can be very enlightening to show yourself how false and transient those anxieties are. A bad trip can also show you how it's possible to control those anxieties and get through it. Maybe not so much with pot, but to some extent.

Finally, quiet isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're around other people who are also high. It's a good way to overcome the narcissistic belief that you're at the party to entertain other people. You're not.

So I've heard, anyway.



[ Parent ]
Anxiety (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by TheSleeper on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 07:26:48 PM EST

Yeah, but if you're the type that's anxious in social situations anyway, it can be very enlightening to show yourself how false and transient those anxieties are. A bad trip can also show you how it's possible to control those anxieties and get through it.

An interesting idea. Pot stopped making me anxious mostly because I learned to view the anxiety as 'fake' and dismiss it. I can see how applying this trick of dismissal would be useful in the way you describe, but hadn't really thought of trying to apply it in other situations until now.

[ Parent ]

Well... (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by FuriousXGeorge on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 02:58:36 AM EST

The effect I was referring too was the unavoidable fact that you have to network and meet lots of people if you want to BUY pot.  Some of these people will end up being friends.

I'm a super-shy guy myself. In the chemical sense,  Pot relaxes my anxiety,  not directly...but kind of by going around it.

How my shyness manifests itself in a social situation is that I just can't think of anything to say.  I just hit a brick wall in my thinking process.

Pot goes around it and gives me plenty of stuff to say, most of it is mindless stoner chat (Ooohhhh...shiny...it's like a living mirror!), but it makes people laugh, and being able to make someone laugh is the fastest path to making them a friend IMO ;)

--
-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

Wow. (5.00 / 5) (#91)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:45:35 PM EST

This is a touching story. I can relate to your confusion, although I've shed most of my own extreme shyness over the past fifteen years or so. I have some practical advice for you, which you are free to ignore/challenge:

1. Make a conscious effort *not* to be so introspective. You're suffering from a hyperanalytical (and probably hypercritical) view of yourself. My experience is that your analysis and impulse to criticize yourself is fueled by your fear of making a fool of yourself. See #2 below.

2. Make an ass out of yourself. Do it on purpose. Learn to deal with consequences. Ever tried to skateboard? You can't do it very well unless you practice. Practice handling awkward and embarassing situations. Shed that protective layer. Here's an easy tip: don't practice what you're about to say. I know you do it, because I used to do it when I was really shy. Don't do it. Just blurt it out and deal with the consequences.

Keep in mind that people like other people that expose themselves. It's comforting and interesting. On the other hand, a guarded, shy person doesn't give much to work with, and is unlikely to make an impression. I know it's common sense, but getting over it requires conscious asinine behaviour. Try it at all costs! Once your confidence levels are up, you can return to being clever and intelligent and non-idiotic, but you will also have a higher level of confidence to take risks with people in social settings.

3. Shake the feeling that you're missing out on something. Often, when I'm isolated from social contact for a while (when travelling for business ,for instance), I get this overwhelming feeling that I'm missing "the party". You're not. There are lots of problems at "the party" that you'd be unhappy about. "The party" is a figment of your imagination. The truth is that as little as one meaningful friendship can sustain a totally rich social existence. Aim for a realistic goal -- make a few friends. See point #4.

4. Nurture friendships. Friends are like plants. They need attention and they need to drink. Initiate contact. Make it easy to get together. Offer them support when they haven't asked. Take a risk and take your casual relationships to the next level. People will reciprocate and the wheels of deep friendship will be in motion.

Good luck, buddy. I'm far from perfect at ##1-4 above, but I'm trying really hard, and I'm a real happy guy with some great friends and a wide-open social future.
------------------------------------------------

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Heh...ahhhh.... (none / 0) (#94)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:58:25 PM EST

Keep in mind that people like other people that expose themselves.

You know what I meant.
------------------------------------------------

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[ Parent ]

Cracks me up! (4.00 / 1) (#123)
by frenetik on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 05:05:27 AM EST

Too bad I almost never post, because this...

Friends are like plants. They need attention and they need to drink.

... is class A sig material, my friend!

And the part about fearing to "miss the party" is spot on. I've often suffered from this and despite knowing better I still feel it sometimes.

Friends are like plants. They need attention and they need to drink. -- SPYvSPY
[ Parent ]

I agree (4.00 / 1) (#124)
by bigchris on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 05:41:15 AM EST

I used to feel the same way about "missing the party"! what the guy said is true - there are a lot of issues going on at that party and people aren't always happy.

---
I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
[ Parent ]
wow, perfectly stated (nt) (none / 0) (#146)
by kubalaa on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 09:32:19 AM EST



[ Parent ]
I can sympathize... sort of. (4.75 / 4) (#92)
by confrontationman on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 06:49:29 PM EST

You sound like you have a slight case of OCD. If you spend all your time analyzing the past you will tend to focus on negative experiences which is depressing. Even focussing on the good times is depressing if you aren't happy now.

Obsessing over a relationship for three years will fuck it up. Don't worry about it though, a lot of people do that, not for three years but you know what I mean. Things can still work out even if you are a bit obsessive but it doesn't help anything.

You need to be able to relax with people and that means over coming your fear of the unknown. What is it your afraid of? What if they say they don't like you or they don't like you in the same way? Well at least you know where you stand and you can move on with your life, and if they do like you, you're sorted.

Deep down we're all the same, well... mostly. If you like someone, let them know but don't make into a big thing. Making it into a big thing will make both parties uncomfortable.

Try to look to the future. I suspect you don't enjoy hanging out and drinking with people because you haven't met the right people. Figure out what your interests are and then figure out what kind of club or association people with those interests would be interested in and join one or several or try some classes or something, you get the idea.

And don't judge people, not to say that you do, but don't do it, no one likes it, and usully if you get to know someone really well, you'll figure out why they are the way they are, and it usually isn't entirely their fault.



Confidence (2.40 / 5) (#100)
by MicroBerto on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 08:08:51 PM EST

IF confidence is at all a problem, check out some sources for building it. I have had poor social confidence for a long time, and within the last year it has been well on the ups. Here's what I've been doing (of course, your milage will vary since this helped MY confidence):
  • Weightlift. Getting bigger and stronger makes me feel WAY better about myself. I've done all sorts of sports all my life, and this is the one that's really pumped me up, pardon the pun.
  • Realize that EVERYONE around you is a tool, both guys and girls. It might not always be true, but so often is! Convince yourself, however possible, that you are better than your victim, and then you'll have nothing to lose. This has worked extremely well for me when hitting on girls, because I'm realizing that the rest of the guys around are pathetic.
  • Practice social situations! Throw yourself deep into something uncomfortable, work up a sweat, and get a good rush out of it! It'll end up being fun, and you must realize that failure happens. Just shake it off and keep at it.
  • Check your wardrobe. I have confidence WAY down lower if i'm dressed like a slob and haven't shaved for days :)
  • Can't succeed without risking failure. So know it right from the gates, and do whatever you have to do to psych yourself up. The things above are what halped me

    Berto
    - GAIM: MicroBerto
    Bertoline - My comic strip

    Gym good, arrogant bad. (3.50 / 2) (#113)
    by confrontationman on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 12:56:22 AM EST

    I do a lot of gym too and I'm a big guy. It does raise your confidence. Feeling good about yourself is healthy. Thinking bad about others, as a general rule, is not good and in the long run it will cost you.

    Just relax, take it easy, make an effort to be cool with everyone. You will be surprised at the difference it makes and I've said it before, DO NOT JUDGE PEOPLE! I know it's hard but people hate that.

    Oh yea... and smile, people might avoid you because they're a little afraid of you. A genuine smile makes you more approachable.



    [ Parent ]
    Strong (2.00 / 1) (#151)
    by MicroBerto on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 07:37:58 PM EST

    I think I came off too strong. My feelings are more of a "This guy has nothing that I don't... I can bang with the best of em". I don't judge too harshly, and come off as a nice guy.

    Berto
    - GAIM: MicroBerto
    Bertoline - My comic strip
    [ Parent ]
    And practice saying: (4.50 / 2) (#117)
    by sobcek on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 01:43:27 AM EST

    "Yeah, you may be smarter, but can you kick my ass?"

    You'll be needing this phrase.

    [ Parent ]

    Ummm (1.00 / 1) (#150)
    by MicroBerto on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 07:36:19 PM EST

    Chances are that it's the other way around... But i'm workin on that as well.

    Berto
    - GAIM: MicroBerto
    Bertoline - My comic strip
    [ Parent ]
    I am a pretty shy guy (4.92 / 14) (#104)
    by cyberdruid on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 09:08:06 PM EST

    I'm OK with it though. It used to be worse, but I made it better. I honestly think I can give you the "secret".
    In my quote-file, I have this:
    "Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people." --André Dubus

    To me this is everything. Narcissism. This is the entire truth of shyness. I have seen other comments with complicated advice, often incorporating steps that a shy guy would never do. If you want to overcome your shyness it is all in that quote. At least it is/was for me.

    Shyness means fear of what people will think if you do or say something wrong. The truth is nobody really cares. I don't mean that as cold as it sounds. It's just the truth. I have seen plenty of people making asses out of themselves when they were drunk or in love or whenever. A week/month later, nobody remembers. Everyone is busy caring about themselves.

    What more can I say... Take small steps. Talk to people (IRL). Just a little bit. Just to someone. Just one harmless sentence to a stranger. Sooner or later you will go too far, say/do something silly. Get mortally embarrased for a few days. And realize that the fear of embarassing yourself was much worse than actually embarrasing yourself. You'll get a little more confident (you really will) and start the whole process over again. It's slow, but it works and it's basically painless and more doable than the "changing your entire lifestyle" in one big push, that others seem to advocate.

    Bravo (4.00 / 3) (#106)
    by jolly st nick on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 09:46:15 PM EST

    This is so true. Our virtues and our faults are so much more intriguing to ourselves than they are to other people. This is true for non-shy people too. Social anxiety is like staring into the mirror at a pimple so small that nobody is going to notice unless they are standing inches away from you.

    The author also appears to have something of a problem managing relationships, not just establishing them. I've seen this happen sometimes in shy people who feel especially vulnerable, but it may also be that his social anxiety stems from this rather than garden variety shyness. For this reason it would be good if he could find somebody who might help him with the skills he needs. My own personal experience with therapists (decades ago, from around the same stage in my life as the author) was not very good. But he's got a better chance there than on a weblog.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: I am a pretty shy guy (4.75 / 4) (#110)
    by mabs on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 10:18:32 PM EST

    I can vouch for what this guy is saying, I am going through this process right now.

    I also found that joining a social group can help, especially a groups with people that you have something in common with, and you'll find you have no problems talking. The group I am involved with is Rovers (young adults in scouting), and I'm loving it, plus it is helping me to develop in many other ways too.

    I have talked to doctors, and other medical professionals, and they all just said I have social anxiety & dyslexia, which has the additional problems that I have had to overcome (sometimes having the in-ability to put sentences together), but it's amazing how many people with hold on to what you are saying, while you come up with what you want to say, or even help you, rather than focus on what appears to your lack of vocabulary (which is not true for me). Internet chat can give you time to put a real sentence together, great practice for me.

    Anyway, that's my experience, and I do believe that any amount of shyness can be overcome, just give yourself time and remember, you can only be better from bad experiences (we all have an ability to learn from our mistakes).


    [ Parent ]
    Talking to people (3.50 / 2) (#116)
    by bouncing on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 01:36:55 AM EST

    If I may add to this. I've found that when shy people force themselves to talk to people, that can be good. But, they usually tend to just talk about themselves or something the other person has no real interest in. It's not that they are self-centered, it's that they are concentrating on talking, not listening to body language at the same time.

    So, if I may add, ask people about themselves. Everyone's interested in themselves! When you do that, you're basically being the outgoing one. What a reversal!

    [ Parent ]

    A few thoughts (FWIW) (4.50 / 2) (#111)
    by gidds on Wed Jul 10, 2002 at 10:20:24 PM EST

    About me: I've always been a bit shy, though not unduly so.  I'm fine with good friends, but always feel a little uncomfortable with strangers.  I've improved a bit over the last few years, though there's further to go.  Anyway, a few thoughts:

    Firstly, it is possible to get less shy.  If you want to; maybe you're happy as you are.  But if not, in general you can change.

    You'll never learn to interact better with people by sitting at home, though; the hard part is actually going out there and doing it!  I've found that the best way is simply to put yourself in situations you're not accustomed to.  It's tough, but it does help; and in some cases the more odd the situation, the better – after all, if you're never going to see those people again, what does it matter what they think of you?  Look on it as training, and don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself!

    Friends can really help here; in particular, talk to your long-term female friend.  Ask her what she feels or thinks when she's in situations you find hard.  Is she conscious of what other people think about her?  How does she react to that?  How does she see you?  I'm sure that she'll have some advice for you if you talk through hypothetical situations.

    Self-confidence also helps here: not the sort of arrogance that often passes for it, but the quiet inner sense that things aren't totally out of control, and that it's not the end of the world if there's a short silence or you look a little silly.  Once you have that, you can begin to relax a little more around other people and be yourself a little more; that'll then boost your confidence.

    I also find it helps to approach events in the right frame of mind: determined to have fun, not too worried about what people think, but open to new interactions and new people.

    Finally, I wouldn't think about romantic attachments directly.&nsbp; That may be your long-term goal (whose isn't? :), but if you don't think about it, and learn to interact more easily with people generally, that may come later.  And meanwhile, other types of friendship/relationship can also be fulfilling, and tide you over.  Like you, all my long-term relationships (all 1 1/2) started when I wasn't looking for them.  So don't look, but do look for opportunities to meet new people, put yourself in new situations, and just do different things.

    There's a series on BBC TV at the moment called `Would Like To Meet', where they take someone who's either been a failure at dating, or hasn't got that far, and over 6 weeks try to give them the skills to succeed.  And in many cases they've managed a transformation; with some gentle coaching in various social skills, dress sense, etc., they've really been able to bring people out of their shells and show their true character in a much more flattering way.  They haven't always enjoyed the process, but it's been really encouraging to see.  As I said, I think it's best not to concentrate on dating as such, but this shows: it can be done!

    (Now, if only I could follow my own advice a bit more...)

    Andy/

    go to a gym (4.00 / 5) (#112)
    by TheLogician on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 12:01:16 AM EST

    I know it probably sounds pretty shallow, but give it a try. Go to a gym and start working out. It's amazing when you look in the mirror and notice a difference, whether it's loosing some weight, gaining some muscle, or just toning up. The effect is not to have more people look at you, but instead to start feeling better about yourself. This doesn't mean you must have low self-esteem, but it helps to make you walk with your chin up, so to speak. So if you start a conversation with someone, in the back of your mind you have a sense of security that "hey....I look good!" ;)

    Shyness, dating, self-esteme (3.33 / 3) (#115)
    by bouncing on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 01:23:57 AM EST

    Shyness

    A few observations. First of all, it sounds like old habits die hard. You don't want to be antisocial, but you've been behaving that way for so long you don't know how else to be. And it really is a behavior, a bad habit. I know, because I was a bit shy growing up. Partially due to the fact that I grew up in a very rural area, I am not used to getting to know new people. This is still true today, but I have overcome most of it. And, I think I can give you some advice.

    Have you considered putting yourself in a situation where you have to introduce yourself to people? I'm not talking about a bar or coffeehouse because at those places, you (a) aren't forced to introduce yourself to anyone, and (b) everyone assumes that just because you talk to someone, you're hitting on them.

    Perhaps you should consider doing some volunteer work or taking a second job. Here are some ideas. Do you have a local Sierra Club or environmental group you can join? Obviously you want to join a group that is consistent with your views, but I suggest an environment group because they often have group work days. That is basically a bunch of people repairing a hiking trail, cleaning up trash by the side of a highway, or doing something else that inspires conversation. You can meet some very idealistic, smart, outgoing people at places like that, and contribute to the world as a whole at the same time. Force yourself to be friendly, out going. Smile, shake hands, and ask people about themselves. Take mental note of what other people do, how they behave. Most people naturally know to be social, but for some geeks, it has to be learned. Think of it as using your asset, your IQ, to compensate for your social lacking. If you can learn to debug a kernel, you can learn to playfully smile, dammit!

    Dating and self-esteme

    First of all, you have a self esteme problem. You know you're smart, you know you're kind, but you don't consider yourself very datable. If you don't consider yourself datable, who the frig will!? The best advice I would give you is to get some friends, don't beat yourself up, and seek professional therapy if needed. After you think better of yourself, others will too.

    As for meeting someone? There's no silver bullet. But I can tell you aren't the bar type, which is a good thing. Most relationships that start directly as dating don't last. First find some friends, and odds are, one of them will turn out to be someome special.

    Do yourself a favor... (4.75 / 4) (#118)
    by visigoth on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 02:37:45 AM EST

    ...and follow the (mostly) excellent advice contained in other posts here, sooner rather than later. Don't do what I did, which was to rationalize away the need to work on my own shyness issues, diverting myself instead toward work and solitary pursuits, and now, after a relatively unsuccessful work career (largely due to insufficient social focus), unemployed and (*cough* nearly) middle-aged, I have the added bonus of regretting nondecisions I made in the past. (Being excessively shy doesn't help job search prospects, either!-) Don't let life slip by. Realizing there is a (correctible) problem at 23, please do something about it now, not a couple of decades later, when it's certainly not hopeless, just a few degrees harder...

    My own $.02 to your specific queries:

    1. Yes, if, as was mentioned elsewhere, it is in fact genuinely fulfilling. What do you want?
    2. What social standing do you want? Do you need and/or value other people? Do you want to be needed and/or valued? (notwithstanding that homo sapiens is a predominantly social species, and not having "normal social standing" may impact judgements of those susceptible to, ahem, "herd instincts"...)
    3. Seeking social situations surrounding shared interests. Reciprocating attention. Many good suggestions by others here. Already feeling you have something to offer puts you a step ahead, already!
    Best of luck to you.

    smiling? (4.00 / 4) (#121)
    by dalinian on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 03:02:09 AM EST

    Could smiling be one issue? Many people say that it is easier to start talking to a smiling person. I can't smile at all, but fortunately I have a few good friends, and they are enough for me.

    A Good Hobby To Try (3.00 / 1) (#122)
    by Obvious Pseudonym on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 04:38:33 AM EST

    One thing you might like to try is roleplaying. I have always been quite shy, but playing roleplaying games has helped immensely.

    It should be easy for you to find people who play - go to your local gaming shop and look for ads from groups wanting extra players.

    The fact that they are actually advertising for players means that they will actively want to recruit you, and most roleplayers can't resist the chance to 'infect' a newbie with the passion for the hobby (and besides, they are often quite introverted themselves and so may be very empathic with your shyness).

    Roleplaying games are great tools for shy people. You can play a loud, extroverted character completely different from yourself and given that the games are completely based around conversation it will give you that 'reason' to talk to the others in the group rather than having the awkward silences when you are sat around with people and have nothing to say.

    I met most of my friends through roleplaying (including my wife) and can recommend it to anyone, shy or not, who needs to meet more people.

    You may also want to try LARP (Live Action Roleplaying) - although this needs much more confidence to try, so I would get used to table-top games first. I do find, though, that when LARPing wearing a mask, I am much more outgoing because I can 'hide' behind the mask and feel much more confident (curiously, when I mentioned this to a female friend who wears lots of makeup, she said that she does exactly the same thing 'hiding' behind her makeup and is much more introverted while not wearing it).


    Obvious Pseudonym

    I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.

    Hang out with extroverts (3.00 / 1) (#125)
    by morkeleb on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 07:01:20 AM EST

    You don't even have to do anything. Standing in a corner in a room and just looking will just serve to make you mysterious and therefore interesting. Extroverted personality types draw their energy from interacting with other people - so they're kind've like huge sticky balls with contact points everywhere that suck people in. Even shy people.


    "If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
    Dilly dallying is what makes the world go round (3.00 / 3) (#128)
    by Phillip Asheo on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 08:45:46 AM EST

    I don't like spending time "dilly-dallying" with others

    So don't. And quit whining. Some people are just shy. But you can change if you want to. You have to force yourself into uncomfortable situations in order to learn how to deal with them. How will you ever learn social skills, if you never socialize ? Its a vicious circle.

    If you want to change, try doing something different, try doing voulanteer work or join a club where you will meet lots of people. The point is to force yourself to do these things.

    Remember if you carry on doing what you're doing, you will carry on getting what you're getting.

    --
    "Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
    -Earl Long

    supershy ? (2.50 / 2) (#130)
    by S H A N on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 09:07:35 AM EST

    with a mere believe that keeping up with old friends is more challenging rather than making new friends a few extroverts/smiling faces can easily be dragged as supershy.

    shyness or for that matter any human trait can be molded into personal strenght or weakness depending largely on the individual himself/herself.

    extrovert/smiling or whatever is not what counts.

    Shy Guy's Study Guide (2.50 / 2) (#133)
    by xmarcus on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 02:12:43 PM EST

    I agree that an ounce of theory is worth a ton of practice in this case. However, here's a good ounce of theory:

    How to Be More Interesting by Edward de Bono
    It's one thing to get up the courage to talk to people. It's another to have a long interesting conversation.

    "People spend hours and lots of money trying to look good and to be fit. How much attention do we spend on our minds and become interesting?"

    The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
    How to push those buttons. "Bloom of youth fades & beauty without social graces tires people but people never tire of having their self-worth validated."


    DO NOT LISTEN TO THESE PEOPLE (2.00 / 7) (#134)
    by 3than on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 02:40:42 PM EST

    The other people will INFECT YOUR MIND with their insipid & terrible notions of 'inter-personal' contact.  If you feel like you are missing something, they are already trying to get at you, perhaps with electromagnetic mind-control devices, or perhaps your companion is their contact.  Do not trust her, she could be poisoning your food with mind-controlling substances.

    Do not take the bus.  Too many unknowns.

    Do you feel like it's safe enough to go to work ???  Perhaps your are not being paranoid enough.  It's easy enough to hide electromagnetic mind control devices in your home; at work you have NO IDEA what could be behind walls, in locked closets, etc.

    I must go, am being watched.

    extreme sports (2.66 / 3) (#141)
    by xah on Thu Jul 11, 2002 at 10:39:45 PM EST

    You sound determined to change your personality. In that case, try to do something that is the opposite of everything that you've become. That is, try an "extreme sport." Basically, go bungy jumping or wind surfing or mountain hiking. Breathe the fresh clean outdoor air. For inspiration, read a biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

    Pretty soon you'll be dating hot women, hanging out with the cool kids, and having a good time. Just remember to read a book once in a while, or meditate or something, to keep in touch with your old self.

    I like that (none / 0) (#155)
    by MKalus on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 10:30:19 PM EST

    I think you have a point, thumbs up for that one.

    M.
    -- Michael
    [ Parent ]

    The road to wellville (5.00 / 3) (#142)
    by cgenman on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 01:51:20 AM EST

       1.  Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

    Not as you get older...  I have found the most important things in my elderly family's lives are friends / relatives.  Technology gets boring after a while, but sitting down and trying to figure out people is like contemplating Quantum Physics while drunk.

       2. Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?

    "wrong?"  lol!  I have found that with most shy people ackwardness around people stems from an odd desire to not upset other people.  Upset isn't quite the right word, but read on and hopefully it will become clear.

       3. How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

    You need to stop caring so much.  You can still care about other people, that's not what I mean.  But you need to get some sort of realization of the meaninglessness of it all, or at least that the woman behind the counter won't be upset at you if you ask for half vanilla and half chocolate even if it isn't on the menu.  

    That's a little hard to do.  Social drugs taken in very social settings seem to do the trick for some Kuro5hiners, judging by the postings to the front page.  For others, near death experiences help.  If you happen to find yourself in a relationship with a woman from latin america, consider yourself about to be cured...

    If you have any burning passion that you can't bear the thought of letting down, you can always use the trick of "it / they need me to do this.  It / they are expecting me to do this by talking to people.  I cannot dissappoint it / them."  It may be a goal, an ideal, a project... or best of all, a person such as your lifelong friend.  

    Actually, I think the other good thing to do is break a lot of laws / taboos.  Set the goal of breaking one law per day, starting with the little ones and work your way up.  Start with J-walking, screaming in public, climbing trees, going to the beach after dark, light drug use...  Work your way up to walking into the back rooms of stores, petty theft, vandalism, public nudity...  Remember, you probably have a clean record so you do get one get-out-of-jail free card.  The point of this is not wanton anarchy.  The point of this is to really feel how little of a taboo it is to call up a rental car company and ask them how much it costs per day.  Or asking the waitress to take a salad back because you ordered a little italian dressing and it is covered in ranch.  Or any of the other myriad of situations that are really orders of mangnitude less scary than interacting with a police officer.  

    And as I said, it really is safe...  So long as you are a 20'something kid who looks honest and afraid, and has a clean record, you get your one get-out-of jail free card.  However, nothing I recommended would really get you sent to jail (except for the drugs, but you can read my other comments for opinions on that).  

    Ah, and quest.  Quests always help.  Ask your relatives for some cash, abandon your stuff to a U-Store-It locker, and just walk the earth.  Sleep outside, travel without owning a car, and get really dirty.  This can be done in the US, or England, Japan, Vietnam...  Wherever you choose to go is fine.  But live without yourself for a month, or two.  Experience something outside the comfort of your apartment.  You will interact with other people, and you will expand as a human being.  Most cultures up until ours required the young to voyage far from home to be considered a full human being...  Maybe it is time for your odessey?  

    Anyway, I hope I haven't come across as a know-it-all, as I certainly don't.  If you are having particular trouble being shy around women, as your previous posts and diary entries would suggest...  I believe that the reason most people in relationships are considered more attractive than people who aren't is because they have nothing to gain and nothing to lose.  If you just realize that you have no chance with, for instance, that Gym girl... you can always say "F-it, I can't win with her so I'm just going to have fun."  And if you really accept that you have no chance with her, (and statistically, nobody gets a better than 1 in 100 chance anyway), you can find yourself entangled in interesting situations with more human contact than you thought possible.

    Just some thoughts.  E-mail me at silentchris [at] chriscanfield.net if you want to bounce some ideas back and forth...  I'm still to some degree fighting with this myself.  Though I'm happily winning the war, battles are still being fought.

    Sin,
    - the used to be slient Chris

    - This Sig is a mnemonic device designed to allow you to recognize this author in the future. This is only a device.

    My take on things (4.50 / 2) (#143)
    by Tatarigami on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 02:42:50 AM EST

    Can a person have a fulfilling life with so few relationships/friendships?

    The fact you're asking this question suggests that for you, the answer is 'probably not'.

    Is it "wrong" to not have the "common, normal" social standing one should have in this society?

    I think that's the wrong sort of question. Instead, why not ask yourself what kind of social standing you would find most satisfying? Comparing yourself to others who are closer to an arbitrary ideal than you are will just turn into a disincentive for you.

    How do the super shy meet people, especially when they feel they have something to offer?

    Unless you live and work in a bomb shelter, you're probably meeting people every day -- in a formal way. Maybe you say 'please' and 'thank you' to a store clerk, maybe you exchange greetings with a co-worker. If you want to connect with them on a personal level, you have to go above and beyond the formula.

    Conversations tend to start themselves once you begin acknowledging people as more than just obstacles between you and the elevator. (Don't think I'm being harsh, I'm speaking from personal experience.) The trick is not to let them die untimely deaths.

    If you can, try talking to someone who has an even harder time relating to people than you do, and you'll immediately spot those little habits they have that make talking to them such hard work: avoiding eye contact, answering every question with a simple 'yes' or 'no', bluntly contradicting the opinions of others rather than politely disagreeing, talking excessively about themselves or topics no other human being on Earth is interested in. (Helpful hint: role-playing is fun. Listening to people talk about role-playing isn't. Listening to role-players talk about their characters as though they were real people is just plain creepy.)

    Some of the things I've done as part of my own effort to become a more outgoing person:
    1. accepted that my interests and enthusiasms lack a certain appeal to others. Conversation should be on a safe, neutral topic until we know each other well enough to reveal our eccentricities.
    2. accepted that the interests and enthusiasms of others lack a certain appeal to me, but they're going to tell me all about them anyway.
    3. started paying more attention to my dress habits. A clean tazmanian devil t-shirt and jeans just isn't appropriate for some formal events.
    4. realised that no-one's keeping a score card, and it doesn't matter if I make a moderately-sized fool of myself. If I make a huge fool of myself, it will matter, but never for long.
    5. Started doing stuff. Joined three clubs, started one of my own, began studying martial arts, took night classes. I've made new friends and, more interestingly, enemies too.


    Well, it depends. (none / 0) (#152)
    by haflinger on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 07:45:45 PM EST

    Before anybody gets the wrong impression, I love gaming.
    Helpful hint: role-playing is fun. Listening to people talk about role-playing isn't. Listening to role-players talk about their characters as though they were real people is just plain creepy.
    An addendum: Calling people by the names of their characters in the local LARP is sure to drive them mad. :) (Yes, it's happened, to me, sigh. One gamer even introduced me to her 2- or 3-year-old son using my character's name.)

    There is an exception, though. Listening to gamers swap gaming stories is fun. (Especially if they're of the "And then the sun came up, so we just ordered more pizza" variety. :) I even know some non-gamers who enjoy this practice, although I assume it's not as much fun for them.

    Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
    [ Parent ]

    talking to strangers (3.00 / 3) (#144)
    by carmichaelbaby on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 02:50:07 AM EST

    Like silent Chris, I'm also supershy and it's affecting everything from finding a job to getting a girlfriend and friends. I think alot of the solutions posted here are sound. I like the ones that involve talking to strangers (like the one stranger a day suggestion). But I have a question about that. How does one whose shyness is of a very high caliber get the guts to talk to strangers and leave the comfort zone? I'm a newbie, by the way. You guys have some pretty intense discussions around here!

    guts (2.66 / 3) (#145)
    by kubalaa on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 09:19:59 AM EST

    Like all things, it's a question of motivation, not of technique. That is, it's incredibly easy to talk to strangers once you overcome your pride and unwillingness to possibly embarass yourself. The question is, do you really want to. I'll raise my hand as a member of the super-shy club. I'm forced to admit that honestly, if I haven't done anything about it, it's because I'm selfish and prefer the advantages not socializing gives me (like not having to listen to people make boring small talk, being able to concentrate more on interesting intellectual puzzles, or enjoying the "I'm a poor, misunderstood outcast" feeling). I don't have any right to complain about having few friends.

    Finding your true nature is difficult. Are you a social creature whose baggage and fear keeps you away from others? Or are you naturally isolated, made uncomfortable by societal pressure to socialize? Happiness is accepting what you are and discarding those parts of yourself that you are not.

    [ Parent ]

    Depends (none / 0) (#166)
    by dipierro on Sat Jul 13, 2002 at 04:39:31 PM EST

    How does one whose shyness is of a very high caliber get the guts to talk to strangers and leave the comfort zone?

    It depends. That's really the best answer anyone can give you based on the amount of information you've given us. Perhaps you should ask yourself, why is it that you don't talk to strangers and leave the comfort zone? If you can answer that question (and you may not be able to right away or on your own), then you have probably answered the question of how to change.



    [ Parent ]
    Didn't your mom ever tell you... (4.50 / 2) (#167)
    by bouncing on Sun Jul 14, 2002 at 01:59:15 PM EST

    Didn't you mom ever tell you not to talk to strangers? Seriously, if you live in a city of any size, you don't make friends by walking up to people on the street and start talking. Maybe this works in small town USA, but in any of the medium sized metropolises I've lived in, people will ignore you or just call the cops. Do that in LA and you're likely to get shot at! :)

    What you have to do is go to places were poeple converse with strangers. Bars are OK, but people will assume you're hitting on them. Try openning up the news paper. Go to social events that match your taste. I recently went up north a farming community's BBQ contest. It was listed in my city's news paper, and I figured: why not? There were lots of friendly people and it isn't odd to start talking to people eating with you around a table. As soon as I mentioned I came up from the city, it seemed like people were extra friendly, and thanked me for coming up to their cook-off.

    [ Parent ]

    Advice? (4.00 / 2) (#148)
    by jimgon on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 10:50:38 AM EST

    I'm not going to give you advice on how to change. I'll tell you what got me to change a bit, but not much. I was very shy when I was younger. I'm not so shy anymore, but I still don't like people in general. I guess that part has less to do with shyness and more to do with a dislike of people in groups.

    I did a long string of customer service jobs. Lots of retail and phone support. You can't help but interact with the scum. It helped foster my dislike of people in general, but it also forced me to interact with them. I can converse on the fly with just about anyone now. I don't form deep friendships with most people. I have four real friends. But I have a lot of low-level friendships and work friends.


    ______________________

    "One man with courage is a majority."

    Andrew Jackson, of the United States


    A Dog? (3.50 / 4) (#149)
    by Jeff Coleman on Fri Jul 12, 2002 at 12:29:18 PM EST

    Get yourself a dog. If you live in a city and this involves a lot of trouble, so much the better. The more you must sacrifice for this the more it will help you. No dogs in your building? Oh, now you have to move. Get the dog before you find the new apartment in this case.

    Make sure it is a cute dog, or a cuddly dog, or a goofy-looking dog, not some nasty attack dog. The idea here is that women will want to pet it.

    Walk the dog. Try to actually care about the dog. Talk to it as if it could understand you. Try to make the dog happy.

    And if the dog doesn't force you into situations where you are meeting and relating to people, well you always have the dog!

    I was like that once. (none / 0) (#169)
    by ruggiero on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 05:38:42 PM EST

    In middle school I was like that. I didn't really talk much, head down most of the time, tended not to make eye contact, etc...

    The person that helped me get out of that kind of behavior most was my dad. He was the ultra-social kind that always went out and spoke his mind. My problem was that I was always thinking about how people would perceive me. Once you do that, you try to change yourself and you get hyper-sensitive about your behaviour because you don't want anyone to think of you as "weird" or whatever. Basically, my dad told me to forget about how people thought about me. If they thought of me as "weird," then so what? In X amount of years you are probably not going to see them anyway. Just go out there and act like who you think you are, don't care about how people perceive you. :P

    Also, I highly doubt there's something wrong with you psychologically. :P (It's called medical student syndrome... a person reads about a disorder and since most diagnoses are very borad and cover a huge spectrum of cases, the person thinks that they have that disorder/illness/disease/whatever. Just erase a possibility of medical illness from your mind.)

    Ask Kuro5hin: Advice for the Supershy? | 169 comments (149 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
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