did social skills ever come naturally to you?

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noidentity0
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23 Aug 2014, 5:03 am

Did anyone here ever had a point in their lives when they were just 'social' naturally? Like it didnt take any effort? And you actually could interact and connect with people? Has it gone away and why? I just want to know.



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23 Aug 2014, 5:42 am

When I was in elementary school, I could interact in a way that wasn't glaringly misplaced. I was friends with my next door neighbors and had been since very small children, so I think the fact that there were some "built-in" friendships was part of the reason. I never connected, though, and it's something that my mom noticed as well. All of my friendships were tumultuous, so not I don't think it was natural, but it looked fairly natural on the surface. My social deficits didn't really show until puberty when connecting started to play a much bigger role in making friends instead of just being funny/interesting/whatever.



RetroGamer87
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23 Aug 2014, 9:05 am

Sort of. There was a time in primary school when I was fairly charismatic. I got elected class president twice. I think the other kids thought I was cool because I rebelled against the teacher.

Things went downhill in high school. I had fewer friends and they dropped out after year 10. I became closer to my non school friends. After doing badly in year 11 I buckled down and passed year 12 but I was in school [s]only to learn[/s] only to pass. I was a bit withdrawn for a couple of years after that but I gradually became more confident in my social skills.

It came sort of naturally through my early 20s with the realization that being confident and nervous were both self fulfilling prophecies. If you worry about doing something wrong, you'll do something wrong. Basically I found out that if you just pretend that you're confident, people will think you actually are confident and then you'll have no reason not to be confident for real. Sometimes I still have bad days but not nearly so much.

Another good technique I learned is not to try to conform too much. I go out of my way to sound just slightly eccentric (a pinch of sesquipedalianism). Generally it has the effect of making me seem a little more interesting.


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NoGyroApproach
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23 Aug 2014, 9:19 am

My story is somewhat similar to the previous posters. As a pre-teen I had neighborhood kids I grew up with. They were like built in friendships. The difficulties started during the teenage years when kids begin to transition from the kid world to a more adult world. That is when I was really left out of place. I was still interested in doing kid things and all my neighborhood friends wanted to experiment with being young adults which require more detailed social skills.


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23 Aug 2014, 9:53 am

There was a phase in my life when unusual circumstances meant I had to make a much bigger push to "be social," and I think I managed to do so, but I don't think it ever came naturally to me, no.

From the earliest time I can remember, I had inappropriate or lacking social skills, and yet enough self-awareness to realize this was causing me problems with people, and for that to cause me emotional pain and anguish because I was "different" and was rejected and mocked for being me. So from an early age I actually remember wanting to TRY to watch and learn the ways other people behave, and mimic those if I could.

I wasn't always able to, but I had learned in theory what you're "supposed to" do and say. When that time in my life I mentioned earlier forced me to have to be much more "normal" socially, I consciously made an enormous effort to do so. I can't speak for how well it worked -- I got by, is all I can say, and I managed to make more friends in that time. But I suspect strongly that I still came across as odd to most people, as I still to some extent experienced the reactions that indicate someone thinks you're odd.

So it's kind of like I educated myself and learned by watching and by reading about normal social interactions and relationships, and I managed to do most of them myself, but it never became entirely natural, comfortable or second nature, and I still forget. I think a lot of it has gone away because I'm no longer living the same life (this period of my life was about twenty to fifteen years ago now) and I was highly motivated back then to be social. I'm not motivated anymore, but I still "have to" do some, and that alone exhausts me, now.

.



KezC
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24 Aug 2014, 4:17 am

Nope, never.

As a toddler / small child, I didn't socialize separately from my parents, and didn't usually have much to do with other kids. First year or school (age 4) I did not speak to anyone unless I was asked a question for the whole year. Primary (elementary) school, I thought I had a few friends, but looking back I can see those were mostly unequal relationships in which the other kids used me and bossed me around. High school, I did socialize a bit, but mostly just with other kids who were slight misfits. Also got on OK with the brainy kids because I was usually near the top of the class. Final year of high school I thought I had learned to socialize because I was part of a large group of friends, but in reality I was only on the outskirts of the group. Even then, there were times when I painfully discovered that people I had thought were friends were in fact using me. College I did socialize a bit more again, but mainly because I had a very outgoing friend who sort of dragged me along in her wake.

Since then, there have been various times when I have made the effort to be a more social person, with some success. Certain people, situations and techniques are easier to cope with than others. But no, it has never been comfortable or come naturally. If I want to be social, I have to switch on my script to "act like a person who is social". This is a tiring thing to do. For any NTs reading, imagine you have an entire, complex fake identity, where you have to 'pass' as a totally different person to the person you really are, and this will give you some idea of what being social is like for me.



KezC
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24 Aug 2014, 4:18 am

sorry, double posted



Last edited by KezC on 25 Aug 2014, 3:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

0_equals_true
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24 Aug 2014, 6:49 am

As humans we have a wonderful ability to adapt.

What isn't natural? Do you mean inherent? then no. If you mean have a deep understand after years of experience? then yes.


You can't play by the exact same rules, play to you advantage but within acceptable behavior (which you can find out if you use your nogin).



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24 Aug 2014, 6:56 am

There have actually been many times socialization has come natural to me.

However, it truly depends on what you mean by natural.

In primary school no effort whatsoever was required. Socialization is very easy as a kid because things are simplistic and basic.

As teenagers however, things become a lot more difficult.

I definitely struggled socially in school, especially my early years of high school.

I've now reached a point in life however where things really do feel natural and effortless.

I will admit that, yes; I DO have to go the extra mile and try extra hard to socialize well. It is natural for me however. I'm not faking anything or pretending to be something I'm not. I just get strained easy is all.

However, I understand why some might really struggle for things to come natural. I see a lot of users here also struggled once high school started for them.

My question is, did anyone here bounce back and reach a point where they are content with their happiness and confidence during their time at high school? Or did everyone just drift by in high school until they reached adulthood?



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24 Aug 2014, 9:47 am

I can't speak for everyone here but for me, the second one. As I said before my social skills gradually developed throughout my twenties and may improve further. It was natural to an extent for me, I didn't so much choose to get better as I just fell into it, though it came at a later age.

You must be doing very well to have honed your social skills to such a degree at such an early age. As you get older, perhaps you can do even better with social skills or perhaps, having mastered it you can instead pour your energy into learning other things.


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calstar2
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24 Aug 2014, 2:34 pm

Outrider wrote:
My question is, did anyone here bounce back and reach a point where they are content with their happiness and confidence during their time at high school? Or did everyone just drift by in high school until they reached adulthood?


I realized that the good things I got out of friendships didn't even come close to outweighing the amount of stress/effort I had to put into them to keep up. It wasn't worth it to me; it still isn't worth it to me. So yes, I reached this realization while still in high school and I was more than content in the friend(less) department.



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24 Aug 2014, 2:41 pm

No. When I was 5 years old everyone was less strict about social norms, is all. Even then, some of the other children thought I was weird.



KezC
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25 Aug 2014, 3:14 am

Outrider wrote:

In primary school no effort whatsoever was required. Socialization is very easy as a kid because things are simplistic and basic.



I would have to disagree with you on this one. My daughter is in third grade and already I can't cope with the complexity of little girls' cliques and how nasty they can sometimes be to each other. When it comes to being bossy, gossiping, manipulative and sneaky, grown-up politicians have nothing on 9yo girls!

Although I suspect things might be simpler for boys, since they either play happily together, keep out of each other's way, or hit each other (and then play happily together 5 minutes later).



callipat
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25 Aug 2014, 7:42 am

Honestly, hardly ever. I don't think it was ever natural for me, but there were times where it was easier to make friends.

I don't know why, but I always found myself at the center of someone's attention, despite whether it was welcomed or not. It was hard for me not to get noticed for some reason, and that really made me subject to a lot of cruelty and ridicule. I think that could be attributed directly to my lack of social skills, and how it set me apart from everyone else.

There was a period in high school where people started to gravitate toward me. I decided that if I was going to be different, then I was going to do it in a big and obvious way. I took it to an extreme by dressing different and acting different purposefully. And somehow, I got a following of "misfits". We used to call it "The Anti-Circle", and there were rings of people surrounding me as I sat crosslegged on the ground before school started. We moved in herds. It was the only time I ever belonged to a group, except I didn't belong. I was more of the ringleader. Not sure how that happened.

But, being social when forced into a social environment, like school, was far less difficult than being social as an adult. Being different in high school seemed to be a novelty, and people were attracted to it. But, as an adult, people just see it as being weird or having something wrong with me. There's more of a demand for conformity.

I have to disagree with RetroGamer87 in the sense that things become self-fulfilling prophecies and that the anxiety alone is enough to bring out social awkwardness. I go into many social situations, like work for example, with the conviction that I am who I am. It doesn't work. For me, it's only served to make things worse. I find that I have to be extraordinarily careful about my social behavior.

Here's one thing that has seemed to work for me when I put it in practice. Create an air of mystery. I'm not promoting withdrawing from social situations. But, the less I revealed about myself, the easier it became. The less I spoke (being the biggest challenge, because I seem to live an highly articulated existence), the more people were drawn to me. The more I seemed to softly exclude other people from my private life, the more people wanted in.

It's weird, because that's something my husband taught me about people. The more people are rejected, the more they desire to be let in and included. I can't understand that, because it is so contradictory. If I am rejected, I withdraw into my own space. I find solace in my own seclusion, and happiness in my own company. But it seems to be the opposite with others.

Does anyone find that to be true?



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25 Aug 2014, 9:50 am

Each to their own. I'm sometimes extraordinarily careful about my social behaviour but in my case I shouldn't be. For me being careful can often lead to me being more reserved than I should be (though on occasion it has prevented some problems). For me when I'm being to careful is when I'm being too shy. Often when I try to avoid embarrassment I end up creating more of it. I still have to be careful not to talk about my obsessions for too long though.


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25 Aug 2014, 10:12 pm

KezC wrote:
Outrider wrote:

In primary school no effort whatsoever was required. Socialization is very easy as a kid because things are simplistic and basic.



I would have to disagree with you on this one. My daughter is in third grade and already I can't cope with the complexity of little girls' cliques and how nasty they can sometimes be to each other. When it comes to being bossy, gossiping, manipulative and sneaky, grown-up politicians have nothing on 9yo girls!

Although I suspect things might be simpler for boys, since they either play happily together, keep out of each other's way, or hit each other (and then play happily together 5 minutes later).


Much more simpler for boys yes. I should have taken that into account. But it isn't much different for boys either. There were still the cool guys who played sports more often, got more attention from the girls, and had a large number of bro's behind them. 7th graders aren't actually much different than teenagers!! Only difference is maturity. The clique and popularity based structures are definitely the same.

But I still think it was simple as things were still immature. When you're a child you might struggle to fit in, but at least childish behavior was encouraged. As a teenager, obviously you're expected to grow up a little more. Primary school was easy for me (which is preschool to 7th grade here) I was the nerdy, shy, scrawny weirdo kid, but I easily made my own little clique of outsider/loser friends easily. High school this was and has been much harder, but I've managed to do it yet again and even make friends with people of more popular crowds at school.