I'm an identical twin so I've been socialized since the womb (how's that for establishing author credibility). I also grew up in a middle class neighborhood in the 90's with tons of kids my age. We'd run up and down the street in mobs all day until someone's parents whistled to signal it was dinner time. That's right, they whistled and then we'd disperse back into our split level homes.
When I wasn't busy being a twin (I was always busy being a twin) or playing intense games of capture the flag with droves of punky 90's kids, I had 30 irish-catholic cousins to go on tractor rides with at family gatherings. What I'm saying here is, socialization has never been a problem for me, mainly because it's all I had growing up. I guess there were a few dark, acne-ridden years with gangly limbs, bottle cap glasses and crooked bangs in middle school, but still.
Have I studied sociology? A little. Does that matter? Not really. All I know is that I'm a goddamn social butterfly and I have been one since birth. So if you want to improve your social life, listen up. Here are 7 things you can do to instantly increase your social swagger.
1) Position yourself differently in groups- If you find that you're always "An outsider looking in" it might actually be because that's where you physically place yourself. It is much easier to be noticed, heard, and to feel like you're "part of the group" if you're actually in the group so position yourself somewhere in the center of the action. If you're feeling unnoticed, change your body language- unfold your arms, sit up straight and smile.
2) Invite people to do stuff- If you're sitting around twiddling your thumbs in hopes that someone will invite you out on a Friday night, you're doing it wrong. Sometimes, the invites don't happen until you start inviting people to do stuff yourself. Here's a secret- everyone loves an invite. Nobody will judge you for inviting them to hang out. It's a compliment, it shows that you like them as a person.
3) Drop the people that make you feel insecure- If anyone makes you feel "less than" or unwelcome, let them go. Even if you have no friends at all, don't choose them to be your friends. Sure, give the group a few tries and see if your negative feelings go away. But! If you keep feeling that you're not valued, heard or appreciated, just drop them. Focus on the people who make you feel comfortable and valued, even if they're not the most "fun" or "cool" group. Cliques are not worth your time. Embrace the people who actually want you around. There will always be another person who is looking for a new friend; seek that person out.
4) Laugh at yourself- I find some people who struggle socially overanalyze their every move. They're criticising their mannerisms, their dialogue and even their thoughts. This mentality is what gets them socially stuck. Instead, navigate with a lightness. If you say something you might find is awkward, breeze over it with a snorty laugh. The key is to forgive yourself and stay in the moment. Focusing on one wrong move takes you out of the moment that everyone else is in.
5) Embrace having no plans- I am convinced that FOMO (fear of missing out) derives from a combination of loneliness and feeling unliked or excluded. Yes, a casual FOMO for missing important things like your friend's wedding or a vacation is normal. I'm talking about the FOMO you get from feeling "left out." How do you combat this version of FOMO? Learn to be OK with your "boring" nights. Embrace them. Friday night will be back next week. You've had plenty of great nights; stop trying to prove yourself to yourself and just turn on Netflix. You're worth more than your Friday night plans.
6) Share more about yourself- I know what you're thinking. WHAT! This is absurd! The best socializers are the people who let the other people do all the talking! Yes, there is some truth to this. But I find that the best conversations are actually way more balanced than that. In psychology it is called self-disclosure. Essentially, if you share something of importance about yourself to someone, that person will feel more open to share something of equal value about themselves to you. This in turn will strengthen your bond. So in social settings you're 100% allowed to talk about yourself- the quirkier, the deeper, the more memorable anecdote the better. Just remember that once you've shared, it's someone else's turn to share and it's your turn to listen. A good socializer is conscientious of when to shift focus from themselves to the other person.
7) Show people you care about them- In romantic relationships we can express how we care for our significant other using the 5 Love Languages (physical touch, acts of service, gift giving, worlds of affirmation, quality time). Some of these could be applied to friendships. Show your friends that you care. Go out of your way to visit them for their birthday weekend. Write them little notes in the mail, call them, buy them something small that reminds you of them.
Have a wonderful evening! Looking forward to hearing more from you all very soon.