If you’re a natural introvert such as myself, you might think that it’s particularly difficult meeting new attractive and interesting people. This especially rings true if you’re a new transplant to a city and starting fresh without friends or family.
At one point or another in our lives we all feel a yearning deep down inside to meet and connect with new people outside of our current social circles. This may stem from not wanting to “feel lonely anymore” to general boredom. If you’re feeling anything that remotely resembles this, our deepest insecurities can creep up and more often than not can get the better of us when it comes to breaking through your shyness and meeting new people.
I won’t go into high-level theory of how to make this work and explain how this situation arose in your life; you already know why. Rather, I want to delve into practical and simple solutions – and depending on your level of commitment, you can have a bustling social circle and maybe partner and companion as well If you want to find out about cool new activities or try out new things, you can skip to the last section of the article.
Take some initiative
No one will hold your hand in meeting new people (except if you have a really good friend or pay for services or coaching). If you’re bored of the same old and looking to expand your social circle or build an entirely new one, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who can introduce you to an entirely new set of friends every single step of the way. Sure it is possible to meet friends who will naturally introduce you to new people, but it’s rare that someone will go out their way to help you in this area of your life.
What you need to break out of the feeling of boredom, complacency and loneliness is do something, anything really, to get you out of your head and off your couch to meet new people. Yes, meeting new and connecting with new people actually means getting off your your butt and being out in the real world!
How quickly and how much progress you want to make is entirely up to you. Whether it’s taking baby steps or taking massive action – it depends on how uncomfortable you’re willing to become. Being uncomfortable in new social situations and learning from those experiences is where you’ll make the spurts of growth in your life you only thought to be fiction a short while ago.So what is the first step exactly?
STOP making excuses for yourself
You have to acknowledge that what’s holding you back is that you’re making up excuses to embrace life. As human beings, we all crave for some sense of meaning, belonging and companionship.
Here’s a list of possible excuses you might have already run through your head up to this point that might have derailed your aspirations in being less a shy person and more a social person:“But I don’t know where to begin!”“But I’m really shy, what’s a person like me to do?”“I’m horrible with people”“I’m scared. I can’t do it”“I’m not confident or charming enough”
Sound familiar? If any of these excuses in all of its variations sound familiar to you – try to feel me here and understand that they’re holding you back. Your internal dialogue (or self-talk) manifests and creates your reality and how you perceive the world around you.
If that’s too deep for you, let’s try it this way – those feelings that you’ve long held are holding you back and if you continue what you’ve always been doing, you’ll continue getting the same results as before. The only way to get over your shyness is to take it head on and embrace it and never let go until you’ve conquered it and emerged triumphant as a social being.
Smiling, Body Language and being Vulnerable
When you’re genuinely smiling and holding easy eye contact with people, you’re sub-communicating that you’re friendly, approachable, comfortable and open to meeting new people . If you’re at a social outing or meeting, it makes it that much easier for people to come over and meet you.
Further, being the ‘real you’ means exactly what it sounds like – just being yourself. Being your authentic self will take you further than trying to be liked through and being something you’re not.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but showing vulnerability and opening yourself actually makes it more effective and connecting with people. The natural tendency is people open up to you in kind.
Don’t try to remember these things, as you’ll be inside of your head – just reflect on experiences from before as a reference point and keep in mind these subtle yet powerful ways of changing your presence (and not yourself) in order to connect with people on a deeper and more genuine level.
It’s all in your head
Think you’re shy or insecure? Guess what? Other people are too! You’re not the only one who has those excuses. Recognize them for what they are and realize you’re not the only one who is going through exactly what you’re feeling.
By getting outside of your head and getting into new and interesting social situations, it forces you to become more present and “in the moment”. Then your attention is outwardly focused on the other person instead of yourself. Have it that your intention is to meet new people and set a goal to talk to at least one new person for that outing. You’ll find that through this, things will develop naturally and you’ll meet other people easily and effortlessly. This is the natural result when you’re comfortable with yourself and putting your focus on others.
By taking the focus off yourself and insecurities, and directing it towards others in genuinely getting to know them – this is where you’ll be making it for others to easily connect with you. Simply put, a people like people who take an active and genuine interest in them. This genuine interest can stem from who they are, where they’re from, what their passions are, all the way to getting down to what their essence is. When you show genuine interest and compassion for others, it’s natural for them to want to get to know you on a deeper level.
Get out there already and connect!
Getting out there and becoming a social person takes patience and practice. Yup, that’s right – practice. Being social is like a muscle, and if you haven’t used your “social muscles” in a while, you want to go easy into it as it might be overwhelming and daunting at the same time.
While I’m all for pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone I understand that it might not be your cup of tea – yet. Instead of venturing into foreign territory and trying out new things you’ve never done before, you can try out and get involved with things you’re already comfortable with to get the ball rolling.
Joining sports leagues or meeting up with people who share similar interests fall into this territory. The more comfortable you are, the easier it becomes for not only you, but for other people as well because it makes it easier for them to meet people who are already comfortable with themselves.
Go to events, get involved and stay active
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous in meeting new people, try out things you might not have considered trying out before.Here’s a list of activities that can get help you to hit the ground running and meeting new people in no time.
Meet Market Adventures
Meet Market Adventures is a company focused on organizing outings for active and attractive singles who are adventurous, have a zest for life and want to meet other like-minded people. All of their events are based in major metropolitan cities in Canada and in the US. They have fantastic people with a great energy and enthusiasm in leading the events that help people break through their shells to meet people who are new or just getting back into the dating scene. They also have a thriving online community where you can meet and connect with people online before meeting in person.Meetup.comMeetup.com is a website that helps organize offline Meet ups. There are literally hundreds of meet ups in your city on a variety of topics that you might be familiar with and share some interest in and some that you have no idea about. They are always open to have new people join in on their passions. This is probably one of the easier options in meeting new people and exposing yourself to things you might not have tried out before.
Twitter – in the Twitter community you’re connecting with people online through Twitter, but there’s also an offline aspect of it as well called “Tweet-ups”, which is a play on words for in person Meet Ups. New people are always cycling in and out and the people who are on Twitter are genuinely interested in meeting new people like you. There’s a very inclusive and warm vibe to Tweet-ups.
Check out Twitter.com and start following people in your area and start commenting on their messages (tweets).Salsa (or any other dance class) – I’ve taken salsa classes and this is probably one of the safest environments in meeting and getting to know new people. People in beginner salsa classes usually have a genuine flair and energy to them. Not only do people who check out these classes want to learn how to dance, they’re probably more so in it for meeting new people.
Toastmasters – Toastmasters is best known for holding meetings and helping people build their confidence in improving their public speaking skills. They have a very warm, inviting and encouraging environment that helps people not only improve their public speaking skills, but also their leadership skills. At Toastmasters, you meet people who are very positive, growth oriented and are excellent communicators. By joining and surrounding yourself with fellow Toastmasters members, improving your social skills is a natural result in your ability to connect with people and express yourself more fully.
Sports Leagues – Be it Ultimate Frisbee, Volleyball, Basketball, Dragon-boating or any other recreational and team-based sport, people who join these recreational leagues are active, social and always open to meeting new people. By joining a recreational sports league, you’re essentially killing two birds with one stone – you’re fostering friendships and getting fit at the same time.
Improv Classes – Improvisational comedy classes (improv) are a personal favourite of mine. Signing up for an Improv class really helps you break fears of interacting with people lightning fast. They whole premise behind improv classes is to get you out of your head and constantly “Yes-And” offers through statements rather than questions.
These classes teach you to how add to a scene or interaction as well as heighten and explore it in a playful fashion that can really supercharge it in ways you never thought possible – making it fun for you and the person you’ve just met.
The people you meet in improv classes come from all walks of life. I remember in my first improv class, I met grad students who were bored, business execs who wanted to hone their communication skills, homemakers who wanted to try something new, lawyers who wanted to de-stress and actors who wanted to add improvisation as part of their skill-set. Everybody is very social and almost always up for drinks after class
I’ve taken classes at The Second City and the Impatient Theatre Company – both a great options, but I’d recommend Impatient Theatre Company if you’re a complete beginnerThese are just a few options, but they’re great to start off with.
The time is NOW
We have a short time on this earth and it’s my belief that you have a right to happiness and sharing experiences with people you love; those people who love and embrace you for who you are.
It’s possible to evolve from being a natural introvert to a learned extrovert. When you make the conscious effort to break through your shyness and anxieties in meeting and surrounding yourself with people you genuinely enjoy spending time with and vice versa, you’ll notice that opportunities and richness in your life comes to full-bloom. It will be coloured with new friends and your life that was once on low volume will be ultimately amplified.