6 Mind Tricks to Get Rid of Social Anxiety
I’m 33 and still get nervous for parties and networking events.
I’ve suffered from this my entire life. I’m an extrovert-introvert. Outgoing with close friends and in most scenarios, and completely shy in others.
I’ve lived through social situations where I second guessed every. single. word that came out of my mouth. For hours on end. Can you imagine how exhausting that would be?
Perfectly curating and pronouncing every sentence just to impress someone at some event that wouldn’t matter in a month anyways.
The title of this article suggests that I know all of the answers to this predicament. It suggests that I've figured out a fail-proof way to not be awkward.
It suggests that I'm a confident, independent woman who can exist wherever she pleases — parties, dinners, brunches, and dates.
An ideal world where my heart didn’t palpitate when I walked into rooms with groups of strangers, and instead, felt BURSTS of joy?!
Alas, I'm admitting, the following 6 mind tricks help me reset my crazy wandering brain, but don’t cure it. I'm just as awkward as you are
I’m not an expert, but I’ve studied and practiced a million techniques that help me go from social anxiety to social all-star.
does it subside with age?
The one gift the universe gives us in our thirties is A LOT more self-love. Maybe it comes from being so worn about caring about timelines or other people’s agendas that we finally accept our own? Regardless, it’s a present I’ll gladly accept.
And while social anxiety has lessened since my 20’s, every once in a while it still creeps up. The difference between now and then is that I know one true fact. Almost every person in the room gets nervous at some point.
This past month I was invited to two solo-events.
One, an amazing Shabbat dinner hosted by a new friend in West Village. The second, a private networking dinner party.
Both events I wasn’t able to bring a +1.
When contemplating whether or not I should get out of my comfort zone and go to either, I reminded myself about the most GLORIOUS thing in the the exciting city of New York…the 10 million people in it.
What I mean is this: on any given day, at any time of the week, you could potentially meet the most fascinating person with the most fascinating life story that you could have ever imagined. There isn't another town like it.
In a way, I think it's a New Yorker’s duty to always take a gamble and put themselves out there.
1. again, Everyone is a little bit nervous.
At the networking dinner, I soon realized EVERYONE was pushing themselves out of their comfort zones.
The night involved
required going up to already-mingling groups and quietly
introducing yourself. Sometimes you had to politely enter mid-sentence because it was either that or continue to stand by the sushi platter.
I started to catch myself going out of my way to make people feel comfortable when they did this, because the look on some of their faces look terrified. And these sweat beads rolling down their faces caused a BURST of joy to happen.
Because the room was full of grown men and women who were Executives, Badass CEO’s… all accomplished, worldly, interesting citizens of NYC, and in the first, 20 minutes or so, were all nervous Nancy’s.
I could breathe a sigh of relief.
2. confidence is key.
Again, if you ever feel this way, know that you’re not unique in this situation.
BELIEVING that you’re a really cool and fun person. Didn't friends text you today? Don't you have at least one weekend plan? AND, haven't you somehow received an invite because all of this is true? Even if it's a work thing, you've at least earned enough respect to join in on the conversation.
This reminds me of one night when I was scrolling instagram, and I never forgot it. I saw someone post a quote that said,
"The ball starts when you arrive."
So, sometimes, I tell myself that before walking in.
3. Be an expert.
Before the event, think of two things that you might be a mini expert in.
Conversations flow better when you talk about something you love.
Mine is travel, AND of course, talking about
my failed dating attempts and relationships blog.
Whether you’re a master at knowing every interesting podcast, baked goods, russian literature, or (ugh) sports… start dropping sound bites about what makes you tick.
Odds, are there will be one person there that will be interested in what you say. You've made a new friend!
4. Ask these two Questions!
The easiest icebreaker is two ask the two following questions:
How do you know our hosts?
And, where did you grow up?”
Pro Tip: Say things like we or you would totally like this. It builds a sense of camaraderie.
5. have an objective.
You don’t have to be there for hourssss.
Decide what your main objective for attending is, and come up with a small goal to achieve. You’ll leave feeling accomplished AND the tension of counting down the minutes will lessen.
Think of something small like attending the event for only a one-hour time slot, or deciding you can’t leave until you get three email contacts.
6. don’t talk like a robot.
Lastly, this might be the most important.
Even at the fanciest of events, people secretly want to let their hair down and cut the prim and proper. This is something I have to remind myself often. People don’t like talking to robots, you don’t have to say the perfect thing.
Talk about real things, like what’s stressing you out that week, or what’s something you’re really looking forward to this year is something people actually want to hear. Be humble and honest and YOU.
Check your body language, crossed-arms etc. isn’t inviting
Don’t drink too much (unless that’s the main event). But even then, don’t be the drunkest at the party.
You won’t get better at social events if you stay at home
Know the dress code. My motto is always be one of the most dressed up at the party, and it’s never steered me wrong.
Be 15 minutes late but not the last. When other people’s friends aren’t there yet you can introduce yourself and mesh better into their group
Hang by the food…it’s the easiest place to make small talk