Everyone else seems to really enjoy socialising, don’t they? They talk about how they’re going to arrange HUGE parties. Get BIG groups of friends together. And play lots of LOUD music!
To many of you that must sound like a lot of fun. But to others, it sounds scary.
That’s because we’re all unique. Some of us (known as extroverts) feel energetic when we’re around others. Talking to new people, socialising with friends and dancing around fuels our personalities and makes us shine. But others (the introverts) are the opposite. Being around people can feel a bit overwhelming and you might find you feel more ‘yourself’ when you’re on your own.
And of course there’s a whole grey area in between. People who don’t like being around big groups, but feel really at home with a few close friends. And others who worry about parties and yet feel great about being around new people once they’re settled in. Hey, awkward people of all flavours – you’re not alone (even when you’re quite literally alone)!
Here are the stages everyone in the awkward gang has experienced…
Stage one: the invite
You’ve received an invite to something! Amazing! You’re loved! People want to hang out with you! That’s awesome, right? RIGHT? Wait, why are you looking so scared?!
Getting invited to something can feel weird. You’re happy you have friends. But you’re also scared of what’s going to happen. Immediately your mind will be filled with all kinds of thoughts. Including, but not limited to, what will you wear? What if you fall over? What if no one wants to talk to you? And repeat.
The key to getting through this stage? You can’t predict the future. Honestly, you can’t. Maybe one day, but until then it’s best to label all your thinking as ‘worrying’ and therefore not real. It sounds simple, but over time you can say “hey, that’s a worry” instead of “I’m scared.”
Stage two: Getting ready
This is when all of your worries from stage one kick in. You try on 354846 outfits. You analyse what people will think of everything. And you’ll consider not going. A lot.
Stage three: Definitely, absolutely not wanting to go
Stage two often leads to stage three: not wanting to go out. Sometimes a totally legitimate plan of action is to follow that little voice and just not go – because you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, ok?
BUT, and this is a huge BUT, proving to yourself that you can go to something and feel ok about it and maybe, just a little bit, even, kinda have fun, will be really beneficial in the long run. Even if you don’t go out the next few times.
It’s all about weighing up the pros and cons. If you feel like you can see some positives, always take that leap. But never feel bad if you opt for a quiet night in instead.
Stage four: Getting there
You’ve worried about what to wear, you’ve convinced yourself you’re going and now it’s usually around the time you’ll worry about how to get there. The bus? Your dad who might say something embarrassing?
If you’re nervous about going somewhere, it always makes sense to have a solid plan about how you’ll arrive. Get a friend’s mum to give you a lift, or see if your parents are available to take you and your BFF so you don’t arrive on your own.
Stage five: Feeling awkward
You get there and get all shy. Especially if you don’t recognise people, there are new people or people you don’t really get on with. You feel like the earth might swallow you up. That’s if you don’t feel like you might spill food everywhere first.
The best tip for getting through this stage. Stop. Breathe. Listen to people. Don’t feel pressured to be the bright, shining light of the party.
Stage six: Speaking and socialising
You might worry about what you’re saying. Or feel like your arms are waving around really weirdly and maybe your top will fall down a bit. How could you possibly talk to people? How could this not be a disaster and the cause of your untimely death?
A really useful piece of advice is to play the part of someone who is confident. What would that person speak like? How would they stand? We’re not telling you to get all Shakespearean, just think about what it might be like if you were a confident person. You might just start to be that person without even acting.
Stage seven: Maybe feeling a bit more awkward again
You were just starting to feel good and now you’re worrying again. You saw someone wearing the same top and someone else didn’t want to talk to you about homework.
But feeling shy isn’t all or nothing. You don’t get shy and then feel amazing. It comes in waves. So feel proud of getting there, but if you have a blip and feel a bit funny, that’s fine too.
Stage eight: Having fun? Maybe? Possibly?
If you don’t feel like you can really have fun or chat to people, that’s fine. But often there’s a stage when you’ll feel like you’ve come out of your shell a bit, you’ve walked up to new people and scared yourself silly, you’ve found someone you know and feel a lot better… and maybe you’ve even plucked up the courage to have a dance. A DANCE.
Stage nine: Feeling exhausted and maybe a bit proud too
Whether you made 20 new friends or just spoke to two people you’re not that keen on, you went. You did it. Feel proud. And now it’s time to get home and get a good night’s sleep.
Or, ok, obsess for two hours over everything you did and said. Then sleep.
Bonus nugget of wisdom: It’s ok to feel funny around people (promise)
Remember: You’re not the only one that feels like this. It may seem like your school is full of party-loving extroverts, but there are plenty of shy types making a mark on the world too!
Sure it may seem like everyone else lives for socialising. But it’s ok to feel a bit awkward and shy around groups. It’s ok to prefer to hang out with just your BFF or even grab a good book and enjoy your own company. Because hey, sometimes a Me Party can be the best party of all.
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Image: Hailey Hamilton