March 21st, 2005

Tania pratfall

Crow's entry

My friend Crow (tengukun) has a friends-locked journal that often wields gems that should be shared with the whole world. I'm reposting this here because I want as many people to read it as possible. It takes some people a LIFETIME to learn some of what's written here. It took me the first eighteen years of my life, and that was with the help of good, honest, strong, kind parents. Crow did it on her own in a year. Think y'all ought to listen to what she has to say. :)

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Another one of those moments where I say shit that's floating around in my head. Might make sense, might not. Hopefully I don't sound TOO preachy. :P

There is an art to being social, I'm finding. After a couple years worth of being truely reclusive - not just from RL, but also on the internet, I've come to a point where I've almost flip-sided from what I used to be. For the longest time, I thought I really had no ability to get along in the crowd. I was put on Paxil for social anxiety (against my wishes... I hate pills. Hate them.), told I was selfish and self-centered for not wanting to be among people, that there was something wrong with me, and I think I finally figured out what the real problem was - it's not that I don't like people. I just didn't like the people I had to be around in the past.

Namely, the people my parents picked out, who tended to spend a lot of time telling me what I was doing wrong. Now isn't that a fun childhood. :P

But I'm not going to get into that. That's not what this post is about. What this is about is How To Be Sociable. It's not as hard as it looks. but it doesn't require being super attractive or super witty either. The real trick is to make people feel wanted.

That's all? Seriously?

We're a terribly insecure species. The loudest, most outgoing among us are often the ones that are crushed at the first sign of rejection. It's silly, really... you could have more friends than you know what to do with, online or off, and have ONE person blow you off or be completely disinterested in you, and feel like there's something wrong with you for it.

The first step is to get over that feeling. You can't get along with everyone. It's literally impossible. Politics, religion, basic personality quirks all factor into what people are looking for in companionship and acquaintances, and you don't have to change yourself for everyone.

If you're being rejected by a lot of people, though, it's time to rethink how you're living your life.

"What?!" you say, "No one should decide who I am or how I want to be!"

You're absolutely right. You're the only person that really matters in your life. As selfish as that sounds, it's the end truth. You're the one making your decisions, making your mistakes, and making your own happiness. There is no one in the world that will make you happy except you - and that's where the real trick lays. If you're unhappy right now, there's a reason for it. A lot of people claim it's chemical imbalances, and I wouldn't factor that out... but I don't think nearly as many people need to be on prescription drugs as there are. We're living in a society that is becoming more and more chemically controlled, and that scares me. Rather than people teaching their children good manners and learning to control their tempers and act like civilized human beings, they're popping pills and becoming numb, dependant drones. That isn't right. You can't tell me that's right.

So why should you change? You say you want more friends. Nobody owes you their friendship. Friendship is a matter of courting, in many respects, and you'll find a few duds along the way to finding the really good ones. Take it in stride, let it slide off your back and keep looking.

How do you make people like you?

Put yourself on the line. I'll be the first person to tell you that shyness has a time and a place, and it is hard to overcome. I know it, believe me I do. But ask yourself this question: what's the worst that could happen? You say something stupid? Laugh it off. People who admit to their faults instead of trying to cover them up come off as confident and quirky - which is a trait almost everyone enjoys.

Be interesting by being interested. Conversation is an art form, and you don't have to be in control of it. Never interrupt a person while they're talking. It says to them that you really aren't interested in hearing what they have to say, and are just waiting for your turn for the spotlight. If someone is constantly doing this to you, mention it to them, but don't be surprised if they get huffy or defensive. Look people in the eye when they speak, and pay attention. It means next time you see them, you can say "Hey, how did that exam go? Hey, did you ever talk to your boss about that idea? Hey, you know that thing we were talking about that last time, I had a thought on that..." You'd be amazed at the response that gets. It says you care, it says you're interested, and no matter what kind of odd quirks you have, that will make a huge difference in who wants to be around you.

Stop trying to impress people with how good you are at something. If you really are good at it, you don't need to prove it. As an example (and yes, this is going to sound mean) I've found the artists that speak loudest about how good they are usually turn out to be mediocre to beginner level when asked to display something.

Keep in mind that the best kind of person is the one willing to learn and keep an open mind. Everyone has something to share, and everyone has something they could learn. If you're unhappy with yourself, stop complaining and get out there and try to fix your problems!

Feel like you're overweight or not attractive enough? Turn off the computer, go join a gym, make a schedule and stick to it. Shower more often, get your hair trimmed - maybe even styled. Stop scorning people who're thin - I know it's easier, but it's really unappealing of an attitude.

People ignore you or don't want to interact with you? Consider who you're trying to interact with, and consider what you might be doing or saying that's causing the problem. Sometimes it's just that you're with the wrong group. Like I said, not everyone can get along. Sometimes it's that you're expecting everyone else to come to you, and coming from someone who used to DO that... get over yourself. Everyone's insecure. I grew up being told I was inferior, constantly, by parents, by religious leaders, by people who were supposed to be my friends. I decided I wasn't going to let that happen anymore. That's all it takes. Join the group, ask people how they're doing, and LISTEN to them.

Feel like you've got nothing to offer? Start a hobby. Read more books - always have some book you're in the process of reading. At least there will be something to talk about, and your vocabulary will improve for it as well! If you have a dog, take him/her for long walks - you meet a lot of people that way, believe me. People with dogs are just approachable, I guess, and if they're a friendly animal, people just love hearing about them. Teach your dog a trick. That's a hobby all in itself. Plus it's good exercise, just walking around, and you'll be in a better mood for it just by getting out, breathing fresh air, and feeling a bit of sunshine.

The end line is, if you wanna be a better person... BE a better person. Stop scorning and making fun of the people who're already there - the 'elite' net artists, the social butterflies, people who make more money than you - if you want it, then go do it. Get off your ass and go do it. The rest will follow, and people will notice. Strength and confidence come from within, and no one is going to give that to you. But it helps to have a few good friends to lean on. :)

And before anyone gets on my case for this... these are things I'm working on myself. I'm just making a record of what's been working... and anyone who's gone through this as well, feel free to add to this.

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If you have a comment, you can post it here - she'll see it - or over at her public journal, nega_crow.
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