I’m a wallflower. I’ve been this way since I was young. I didn’t date as a teenager, and then in my early twenties, I married the second boyfriend I ever had. (My first boyfriend dumped me because he couldn’t get me to be more outgoing.)
After I married, I gained a lot of self-confidence (thanks to encouragement from my husband.) I made a lot of friends that I felt comfortable around, and I even became a manager, which forced me to sometimes be the center of attention. I still don’t like being the center of attention, but I do it as part of the business of my career: ‘fake it til you make it’ as they say.
My husband wasn’t shy. He loved to talk, and he had a sarcastic sense of humor that always made me laugh. When we were at parties, I didn’t feel out of place. I stayed by his side, laughing (sincerely) at his jokes, and maybe now and then explaining to people ‘he’s just joking!’ if they didn’t seem to be understanding his brand of sarcasm.
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And then, after 14 years of marraige, my husband died.
It’s been two years, and I’m still adjusting. Thankfully, my wonderful friends are my support system, and my son and I are doing okay.
What I’ve noticed, though, if I’m at a party where I don’t know very many people, I feel lost. Restless. Out of place. My husband was my crutch; when he was around, I didn’t have to enter into conversations with strangers, which was never my forte anyway.
And then, when my husband became more of a homebody, I still went out to gatherings with my friends, but by that time, I had my baby boy as my attention-grabber. “Where did he get his red hair?” “Look at those long eye-lashes!” These comments were repeated over and over, but I didn’t mind. It was a great ice-breaker into conversations with strangers.
But now my son is twelve, and he is off having conversations of his own, instead of letting me bask in the glow of his cuteness. And so, once again, I’m lost.
I still don’t know how to make chit chat.
So I’ve begun the project of finding my voice.
Here is what I’m going to do: I’m going to read two books.
How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman
This one promises to to help shy people learn to read body language, learn tactics to help open up conversations, and connect with other people quickly. 90 seconds! Not a bad time frame.
How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends by Don Gabor
Apparently, this one is going to teach my introverted self how to communicate with wit (I don’t think I have that!), confidence (I know I don’t have that!) and enthusiasm.
My goal is to use these tips to practice the skill of conversation with strangers, and overcome that lost and restless feeling.
I will keep you posted on my results, and any tips I learn.
Anyone have any suggestions for me in the meantime? Please comment below.