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How do you handle social situations like this?

Posted by WorryGirl on April 6, 2003, at 18:23:54

I was reading Libby's post about her being nervous about returning to work since she was hospitalized and all. I really could relate to how nervous she must have been on that first day back at work.

In every social situation that makes me nervous it always involves small groups of people, usually people I don't know well or at all (or people I might know pretty well but I get the feeling at least one in the group doesn't like me).

In these kinds of situations, if you are nervous, how do you usually handle it? Please don't say that you just start saying hello and introducing yourself. I've tried it and it always backfires, probably because they sense my nervousness, plus in the area I live in, socialization seems to be almost more reactive than proactive. In other words, if I seem too forward people back off, either because they wonder what's wrong with me that I am so friendly or maybe they think I want something from them. It's like you're supposed to act like you really don't care about those people until they decide to befriend you.

I'm always extremely nervous and dread these kind of affairs, but the only way that I've found I can handle them is to always arrive early.
This way, because I'm the first one there, it doesn't seem as much like people are staring at me or even noticing me. This approach has actually worked to the extent that people who might not have noticed me before will say hello because I was there first, and I think most people feel uncomfortable just sitting there and not talking to anyone.

Yet, most of the time I find myself doing just that in small group situations. Sort of sitting on the outside of the circle, too timid to just chime right in with them, but never really receiving any verbal or nonverbal welcoming cues. Maybe I am receiving nonverbal welcoming cues, but I'm just not picking up on them?

I am going to a school tour this week and am already getting nervous. I'm tired of the mental exhaustion involved before I even get there, then the emotional failure I feel when everyone else in the group is chatting with each other by the end of the tour, except for me.

I swear, I smile and make eye contact (not too much, though, because eye contact is hard for me at first til I get to know someone). My problem is how nervous I sound when I open my mouth. My sentences never come out smoothly and people read right into it. Help! Socially, I might've been more successful if I had been born deaf and dumb.




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