If you are feeling socially awkward, there are things you can do to develop more social confidence. Social skills can be learned. Things like how to start a conversation or how to join-in a conversation, and how to listen well to others are all things you can learn to do. You can also learn about nonverbal skills like eye contact, head nodding, and smiling – and when to use these and when not to use these.
While some people learn these things easily through their interactions with others, others find these skills take more deliberate rehearsal and practice. If this sounds like you, you may find it helpful to speak with a counselor or other mental health professional who can help you identify skills to develop and even help you practice those skills step-by-step before trying them out in new social situations.
Getting connected. It might be hard to connect with people. For example, if you live in an isolated location, far from a large metropolitan area, your social resources might be limited. At the same time, though, big cities can feel just as lonely. Here are a few ideas to help you connect with others, no matter where you are.
Talk to a family member, teacher or religious leader. Even though you feel lonely, remember that you don’t have to go at it alone. The first step in ending your loneliness is simply talking to someone from your family, a teacher, a school or campus counselor or your pastor.
Start small. You don’t need to find a best friend or go out with people every night of the week. Just find something in common with someone,and share a moment
Challenge your negative thinking. Chances are that you are your own worst critic. Try to look at each situation objectively to avoid being too hard on yourself. For more tips on how to do this, check out the Self-talk fact sheet.
Get outside. Sometimes, even if you’re not talking or interacting with anyone, just being around other people can make you feel good.Try going to a park, a coffee shop or a library to do some people watching!
Join a club or a team. The best way to meet people that have the same interests as you is to join a club or a team. You can join groups through your school, local community center or church/synagogue.
Chat on the internet. Many people today find like-minded friends to connect with through the internet. The internet can bring you into touch with people all over the world, and gives you a chance to practice conversational skills. It’s always important to remember, however, that relationships established on the internet could be misleading.
Seek help. If you need immediate help and you aren’t sure where to turn, try calling The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-443-2800. Both hotlines will keep your information private and have trained volunteers who can talk to you about how you’re feeling 24/7.
Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.