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Thread: I really need to get my social skills back

  1. #1
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    I really need to get my social skills back

    I am currently 33 years old, and when I was between 13-16 years old I would hang out with lots of friends both at school and outside of school.
    This gave me a lot of energy, and made it very easy for me to be spontaneous, relaxed, charismatic and basically overall likeable, and this had a very positive effect on both guys and girls (I got along great with my friends, and I could flirt with girls in a playful and relaxed way and enjoy it a lot on a mutual level).
    Back then, I felt like "part of the team" so to speak, because I knew a lot of people my age and a lot of people knew who I was.

    However, when I started secondary school as a 16-year-old I ended up at a new school where I didn't know that many people, lots of my friends moved to other cities, and a couple years later I had huge problems finding a job, and all of this made me both depressed for a couple years and a bit of a loner.
    I recovered from that some time in 2010 I think, although ever since then I have had kind of an uphill battle when it comes to the social part.
    I have some sporadic contact with a couple old friends, although they are mostly far away from home.
    I do often hang out with my little brother (and my other family members), which definitely means a lot.

    However, I started studying at a university in 2014, a couple hundred miles away from home, and I kind of became "almost" friends with a couple other students for a while (I could spend time with them outside of classes and do other things than study, although I never visited them or anything), but then I had to retake my second year and lost contact with all of them and ended up in a new class where I don't know anyone.
    So basically I have now ended up in a situation where I have absolutely no contact with anyone at my university whatsoever, except maybe a few people during lectures or when I go shopping, but I spend 100% of the rest of the time by myself.
    And the fact that I used to be a very social and outgoing person with lots of friends is something that bothers me a whole lot;
    it is a kind of very strong nostalgia, and a feeling of having lost a lot of social status that I used to have.
    Sometimes this makes me feel angry and frustrated (I have found myself clenching my fists and teeth in public in quick bursts a few times, for example, and mumbled swearwords to myself), and sometimes I just feel gloomy.

    I don't know where I am supposed to start in order to do something about this;
    I have been thinking of visiting some of the parties at my campus some time on the weekends, but I don't know what I should do there - I feel like I will just end up comparing this with the times when I was at those place and had several friends with me, and just feel hopeless because of that.
    I have also been thinking of trying to act the way I used to act, but that feels a bit forced, and I always feel very discouraged when I meet someone who has seen me before, because I have this feeling that they have got used to me being silent and careful, and even though this might be wrong, it still makes me feel that way.
    I also noticed during a class reunion with my classmates from my early-to-mid-teens that it was extremely quickly for me to get back into that social and outgoing role, so this definitely indicates that people's expectations of me play a huge part.

    What would you suggest that I should do?
    I am really tired of being by myself like this and feeling that there is a large part of me that's missing.
    Last edited by Markus86; 10-04-2019 at 10:05 PM.

  2. #2
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    Are there any clubs at your university of something that interests you? That's how some people I know made friends. As for me, I generally made friends in university through meeting someone who introduced me to others and by participating in on-campus events. Also, I've met plenty of nice people through volunteering (albeit later on in life). What do you generally enjoy doing on your spare time? Ideally, you want to meet people in environments that match your interest. That way you'll meet like-minded people.

    Some character traits that are generally well received by others: being positive (as in no complaining, gossiping or speaking ill of others), a good active listener, genuine and respectful. As for outward characteristics that help anyone make a great impression: good hygiene, looking presentable (essentially clothes that fit and are clean) and a smile.

    Ultimately, be the best version of you. That has been and is still my motto. Fitting in may help you find acquaintances, but being your best version will help you find those awesome like-minded friends.

  3. #3
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    Originally Posted by greendots
    Are there any clubs at your university of something that interests you? That's how some people I know made friends. As for me, I generally made friends in university through meeting someone who introduced me to others and by participating in on-campus events. Also, I've met plenty of nice people through volunteering (albeit later on in life). What do you generally enjoy doing on your spare time? Ideally, you want to meet people in environments that match your interest. That way you'll meet like-minded people.

    Some character traits that are generally well received by others: being positive (as in no complaining, gossiping or speaking ill of others), a good active listener, genuine and respectful. As for outward characteristics that help anyone make a great impression: good hygiene, looking presentable (essentially clothes that fit and are clean) and a smile.

    Ultimately, be the best version of you. That has been and is still my motto. Fitting in may help you find acquaintances, but being your best version will help you find those awesome like-minded friends.
    Yeah, there tends to be some activity on the night clubs during the weekends.
    Maybe I could just start out with being there the first couple times, just to get used to those places again, so that I "start out light"?

    I used to be a member in an ensemble orchestra a few months ago (I would be a guitarist and bass player for a while) but that wasn't quite my thing, and I also felt really awkward there a lot of the time and felt that a lot of those people felt insecure around me because of that (there was one guy who made me extra uncomfortable, because I was a bit awkward and insecure in front of him the first time I talked to him on my very first quick visit there, and then after that his expression was like "I don't like you" every time he saw me), although several of the other people seemed to like me.
    But one thing that I decided to try one time, and that is probably a bit unusual and random, was that I actually made myself sleep-deprived on purpose the day before I went there, because I have noticed that I become very "chill" when I am sleep-deprived.
    And amazingly enough, it actually worked very well - I found myself being a lot more relaxed there that day, and didn't worry so darn much about what to say, and that was awesome, and I could tell that they really liked that.
    My goal is to get back that feeling as a more constant part of myself.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member melancholy123's Avatar
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    Join some clubs or groups, take up a hobby that puts you with others. Learn to play a musical instrument and jam with others. Get yourself out there. Uni should be a time of being able to meet a lot of new people and form friendships. Dont be a hermit!

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  6. #5
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    Originally Posted by melancholy123
    Join some clubs or groups, take up a hobby that puts you with others. Learn to play a musical instrument and jam with others. Get yourself out there. Uni should be a time of being able to meet a lot of new people and form friendships. Dont be a hermit!
    I definitely will.
    I would like to start relatively light though, so that I don't do too much at once.

    Would visiting the school's night club for a little while be a good first step?
    I will probably try going there next weekend and just be there for maybe 20-30 minutes without demanding anything more than that from myself, and then attempt to speak to people there a couple weeks later.

    It should preferably be something that is as simple as possible while still making a bit of a change.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    It doesn't matter whether people have seen you as quiet before. Just be kind, and give them a pleasant surprise.

    Your tuition covers mental health counseling services on campus. You paid for this already, so why not check it out and see if you might find it helpful?

    Head high, you can do this.

  8. #7
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    Originally Posted by catfeeder
    It doesn't matter whether people have seen you as quiet before. Just be kind, and give them a pleasant surprise.

    Your tuition covers mental health counseling services on campus. You paid for this already, so why not check it out and see if you might find it helpful?

    Head high, you can do this.
    Thanks.
    That's probably the first thing that I will try next week, on Monday.

    I just need to find some sort of excuse to talk to them, but I guess the course itself is a good enough conversation starter.
    I guess I shouldn't worry too much about "instantly becoming friends" with them right from the beginning (that's probably a slightly unrealistic goal), so I guess that it is best to think of it as a victory if I simply start a conversation.
    I sometimes have this annoying uneasy feeling that I "might have to keep doing this over and over and never get any good responses back" and then because of that get the feeling that it is "too late to be social" or something, but that's probably just one of those destructive thoughts.
    I have noticed that people seem to react with positive surprise on those few occasions when I get a good excuse to talk (usually when I make an oral presentation), because on those occasions I really open up and become a totally different person, because it's at those moments when I get a good chance to talk and open up.
    So the problem seems to mostly be about finding an excuse to say something.

    I was actually stopped by a security guard at my school last year, and he asked me what was on my mind because I looked "troubled", and then one week later I felt quite good about myself and he was shocked when he saw me that time, because he thought that "it was like night and day".
    That was pretty funny, and definitely encouraging.

  9. #8
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    Originally Posted by Markus86
    Yeah, there tends to be some activity on the night clubs during the weekends.
    Maybe I could just start out with being there the first couple times, just to get used to those places again, so that I "start out light"?

    I used to be a member in an ensemble orchestra a few months ago (I would be a guitarist and bass player for a while) but that wasn't quite my thing, and I also felt really awkward there a lot of the time and felt that a lot of those people felt insecure around me because of that (there was one guy who made me extra uncomfortable, because I was a bit awkward and insecure in front of him the first time I talked to him on my very first quick visit there, and then after that his expression was like "I don't like you" every time he saw me), although several of the other people seemed to like me.
    But one thing that I decided to try one time, and that is probably a bit unusual and random, was that I actually made myself sleep-deprived on purpose the day before I went there, because I have noticed that I become very "chill" when I am sleep-deprived.
    And amazingly enough, it actually worked very well - I found myself being a lot more relaxed there that day, and didn't worry so darn much about what to say, and that was awesome, and I could tell that they really liked that.
    My goal is to get back that feeling as a more constant part of myself.
    I'll be honest, I find it easier to get to know new people at venues where you can chat without having to yell. As for playing music instruments - nice! Do you enjoy playing the guitar / bass? If so, perhaps you can find another group to play with where you feel more comfortable. You can approach people with "Nice guitar, where did you get it from?" or "How long have you been playing the cello?"

    As for being more relaxed, no need to be sleep deprived. Focus on being the best version of you. By being the best version of you, you'll make others feel good. And how you make others feel, that's what people remember. Also, not everyone you speak to you'll connect with. You might meet someone who you simply cannot relate to / have nothing in common with. Or you might even think that a guy you've just met would make an awesome buddy, but he might not feel the same way. That's okay. That doesn't make you any less interesting to be around. It merely means that you guys aren't suitable friends, so keep looking until you find someone you mesh with.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    The first place to start is a good check up from a doctor and a referral to a therapist. As a 33 year old man you can't live life like a 16 y/o high school kid nor should you try. It seems your mind is ruminating and trying to go back to the last time you were happy. A doctor/therapist can help you rule out any physical or emotional issues that are leading to your isolation and 'gloominess'. Night clubs and bars won't help much with this.
    Originally Posted by Markus86
    I am currently 33 years old. sometimes I just feel gloomy.I am really tired of being by myself like this and feeling that there is a large part of me that's missing.

  11. #10
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    Originally Posted by Wiseman2
    As a 33 year old man you can't live life like a 16 y/o high school kid nor should you try.
    That's not what I meant, I meant that I felt a lot more at ease and much more outgoing in general during my teenage years, and that's the part of me that I would like to have back.
    Lots of people are very social and outgoing their entire lives and enjoy that a lot, and there is no reason to stop being that way.
    And personally, I know that I would feel much better if I got back that part of myself.
    Last edited by Markus86; 10-05-2019 at 12:16 PM.

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