A few years ago this was my life: I would go to class, then I would go to work. Then I would sit at home.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you live a life where aside from work or school you mostly sit trapped in your house? Do you feel stuck at home?
You’re not alone.
Most articles on the internet about being stuck at home are wildly unrealistic. They usually begin by telling people who are shy or suffering from social anxiety that they should just buckle up and get out there.
If that was easy to do then shy people would already be out there doing that!
The advice to go to a bar or clubbing or whatever else they recommend is stupid and unrealistic. Those are activities that have to be worked up to. That’s not where you start if you’re stuck at home.
Here is the secret: As a socially anxious person you need to focus on meeting people through an activity. Focus on events where the primary purpose of getting together is to do something specific and any conversation that might happen is an extra.
Going to a place where interacting with other people is the entire point is just a recipe for disaster if you have social anxiety.
So here are five escape plans to rescue you from sitting alone in your house if you have social anxiety. They’re what I did to begin my journey and they’re tailor made for the beginner.
#1. Every Weekend Go Visit A Different Religion’s Place Of Worship
This is a great way to begin. I’m not religious myself but I find it fascinating to see how people of different cultures and different ethnicities celebrate their faith.
Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and meditation centres are extremely welcoming. They love guests and they understand if you just want to be quiet and observe. And if you feel up to it there is often a “coffee and cake” social afterwards.
There are so many different options. Not only do you have the major religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, etc…) but there is an almost unlimited number of denominations in each faith. And then within those denominations there are different traditions depending on the language and ethnicity!
One of my favourites was a Polish Roman Catholic Church which had a Perogi lunch after the service!
And if you make a mistake socially you just move onto the next church or mosque or meditation centre. It’s very low pressure.
#2. Use A Website Like meetup.com
What are your interests? Do you like environmental causes? Dungeons and Dragons? Are you a small business owner? Do you like biking or jogging?
There is a group in your city (or the one next to yours) meeting and discussing those things.
You can use meetup.com to search for nearby events. If you don’t want to sit around and socialize you can choose an event that is based around an activity like exploring your city. Or you can join a jogging group and just enjoy running with a group of friendly people.
By joining a group with a shared interest friendships are almost guaranteed to happen.
#3. Volunteer At the Humane Society Or A Soup Kitchen
There are charitable organizations in your city or town that are constantly in need of help. And they’re a perfect way to get yourself out of the house and around other people.
If you join a soup kitchen you will be given a set of tasks to do. While you’re doing those tasks you can have whatever level of conversation with the other volunteers or people being helped as you wish.
#4. Sign up for a Gym
One of the best ways to work on your social anxiety is by setting up a regular routine of going to where there are lots of people.
A gym is a very welcoming place for people and is filled with a wide diversity. You can begin by working out by yourself or you can hire one of their trainers to get used to one-on-one conversation. And by having a specific subject (working out) to focus conversation on there is less risk of awkward pauses and silences as you try to figure out what to say next.
If you don’t want to go the personal trainer route you can join one of the many classes gyms offer. There are cardio classes, group cycling classes, yoga classes and many more. Don’t be fooled into thinking that all of these classes are filled with young attractive people who will just intimidate you. A lot of them are attended by regular people who are trying to lose weight and get in shape.
A class allows you the opportunity to slowly get to know the same faces every week and to slowly begin conversations. You can start with “hello” and as the weeks pass you can progress to discussing the class and other things.
With a gym you get healthier both physically and socially.
#5. Public Library Events
Libraries have changed in the past decade as people gravitate towards the internet and ebooks. No longer are they just places where you get a book. They’re now community hubs filled with all sorts of interesting talks, workshops, and events.
For example next week my local library is hosting a talk given by a candidate running for local office. The community will listen to the candidate speak and then there will be an opportunity to discuss the issues. You might not be confident enough (yet) to speak in front of a group of people but even if you just observe it’s still an opportunity to join people in a social setting.
There are also smaller events in the library such as computer classes, learning how to sew, and more! Some classes will have dozens of participants and others will have less than ten!
The Basic Points:
Whether you choose one of the activities in this article to create your escape plan or if you come up with something else here are a few important points to keep in mind:
- Don’t try to run before you can walk. Don’t go to a club or some other intimidating place right off the bat. You’ll spend the evening being quiet and leave vowing that being social just isn’t for you.
- Focus on events where the primary purpose of getting together is to do something specific and any conversation that might happen is an extra.
- Meet people through activities. Go out with the goal of doing something interesting, not just “talking to people”.
- It’s okay to start off by being quiet when you go out. The key is to develop a routine where you go out regularly. You’ll build up confidence and comfort soon enough.