Not sure how to socialize outside of classes/departments

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Tobia
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18 Apr 2011, 6:43 pm

I have no problem talking my professors and anyone else in my (major/minor oriented) classes because I have any of a bazillion things running through my head to ramble about because I don't know what to say. I talk when I'm nervous, it kind of keeps people at a level of separation. I've got a few 'friends' that I talk to in my classes or when I see them at department-type events, but that's about it.

I've tried going to different school-sponsored events as I am a undergraduate so it isn't strange for me to, but I feel wholly not at ease and unsure about what I'm supposed to do. My idea of 'chit chat' generally involves me rambling about something I've read or trying to gauge a opinion of why someone thinks a certain way about Christianity (I'm in a class about it and I cannot understand for the life of me why my parents and a few people I know seem to get angry when I bring up what academics believe and I was raised in it).

It all seems rather pointless, and while I want to be more social trying to do what the psychologist said to do doesn't work because I don't like just trying to pull something off a list or talk to someone because I don't get it. I don't know. Her way of doing things only made my anxiety go through the roof so I'm going back to my way for now. I'd just like alternatives of her way that might work.

I'd go to animal shelter and its events with my ex, and after a half hour to an hour of events I'd be so overwhelmed by the people and the noise and the smell I'd be ready to leave. So I'd go hide in the car until I could deal with more because he wanted to stay for four hours. And I was just supposed to get used to it and build up a tolerance to it...and eventually I just didn't really want to be there anymore. I love seeing kitties but I couldn't stand the smell and the noise and the people.



unciauncia
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18 Apr 2011, 7:54 pm

I've got related problems. I have no issues talking to people with a common interest (or just nerdy folks in general) to the point that sometimes I run into the one-sided conversation and TMI deal. I'm still learning the subtler rules of social skills and how to not fall on my face.

Sounds like you're like me: I didn't 'get' small talk either and I still don't really, at least not 100%. I read an article somewhere that explained it rather well. I used to think all conversation was about trading information, facts, and stories, but small talk fits into none of those categories. It's a conversation tool in order to find common interests with the other person and to get to know them better. It really is meaningless babble, but with a purpose. Because you can't usually get to the friendship level without going through that weird stage.

And if your psychologist's methods are making you more anxious, this might be a time to either let them know or switch altogether. I recently switched from a counselor who was an awful fit and I wish I had done so sooner. I have social anxiety so it was hard for me to 'challenge' that kind of authority but it worked out for the best. So I wish you luck however you choose.

Have you tried discussing with your doctor about anxiety medication/antidepressants? Those did wonders for my sensory issues--they're still there, but the anxiety made them so much worse so meds took care of a big chunk. That might allow you to function better in overwhelming situations so you can begin to feel at ease.

Where are the different "social points" you run into during a school day? Do you have group work in classes or have class discussions? Do you go to the cafeteria for meals? Do you participate in any clubs? Any of those paired with time is a good way to get in touch with friends. Unfortunately you have to step out of your comfort zone to make progress, but don't be afraid to step back if things get overwhelming. Just know that it takes time to build relationships especially if you're as shy as I am. Congratulate yourself for progress in baby steps. Hope this helped at least a little, and good luck!



Tobia
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18 Apr 2011, 8:18 pm

It's nice to think that I'm not the only person on the planet like this, so you've most certainly helped.

What does small talk fit into? I thought you traded info! Though technically I could probably categorize all talking as trading info, but I guess I don't get it. I guess I like stuff like common interests to come up spontaneously and more naturally. But that probably has something to do with why I have 3 friends.

It was short term therapy, and in the summer while I was out of school and had no chance of social interaction as my parents live in a tiny town that I have to spend the summers in. I'm eligible to get more counseling this summer but won't start until the fall because gas prices are high. She was -really- nice and didn't make me feel uncomfortable like the other therapists I saw when I tried group therapy--that was an awful thing for me. I felt so uncomfortable that I didn't really want to talk except to comment on other people mostly.

I'm on antidepressants for migraines and they actually make my emotions go through the roof in intensity. So I'm on hormones to balance that out... I've got a whole slew of genetic things that make me really sensitive in the senses, and there's not really a lot to do about it, and I'm already on a whole host of prescription medication to keep my migraines under control. I've had them since long before the anxiety came to a head, though it contributes too, and my mother makes me crazy saying if I drank more water and didn't get stressed I wouldn't get them. She only believes I get them after I passed out twice on my aunt's couch after eating her cooking. (I think whatever psychological problems I have comes from her side of the family.)

I talk to my bus driver, generally talking about what I'm doing in classes. We have group discussions every day in several of my classes, but while I talk because I found years ago that it keeps my grades up, I only talk to the teacher. I literally look only at them and my notes when I talk. I despise group work, and I've actually had teachers let me do stuff on my own because I was so uncomfortable. I quit going to the hall to eat, as I do my own cooking in my apartment now, but there was never anyone to talk to anyway. I gave up trying to talk to people after a while because I generally got the cold shoulder. I participate in anything Classics/Religious Studies/Linguistics related that I can, and I have lots of fun with that. But the only club I'm interested in is Archery and that hasn't fit with my schedule. I love to shoot my bow. It's so calming and focused.

For me to even go to school events is stepping out of my comfort zone, but I've enjoyed going to a few things, though no one ever talked to me, and I didn't really have any way to start conversation. I'm generally the person people either try to take care of or take advantage of--it's odd. I probably don't make sense. Most people just disappear when I take off my emotional/social masks.



littlelily613
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18 Apr 2011, 10:50 pm

Tobia wrote:
I participate in anything Classics/Religious Studies/Linguistics related


I'm just going to randomly interject myself into this conversation to say: I am taking Religious Studies too! I love it!

I really don't have any advice, because I don't socialize at all at school. I did a bit last year, but my friend kind of distanced herself from me, and I have no idea how to interact with people now.



Tobia
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18 Apr 2011, 11:06 pm

littlelily613 wrote:
Tobia wrote:
I participate in anything Classics/Religious Studies/Linguistics related


I'm just going to randomly interject myself into this conversation to say: I am taking Religious Studies too! I love it!

I really don't have any advice, because I don't socialize at all at school. I did a bit last year, but my friend kind of distanced herself from me, and I have no idea how to interact with people now.


Yeah. I just don't really get how people can actually believe some of it though. It just doesn't make sense to me. It's interesting though! Especially ancient stuff.

School is about the only way I have to socialize. I mean, I don't even talk to my flatmates. They disgust me a bit as they don't believe in cleaning and the main apartment always smells terrible and I refuse to come out of my room unless absolutely necessary.

ETA: Also, I should probably add that the big reason I'm attempting to figure stuff out is I'm afraid my three friends are going to get tired of me teeter-tottering between being clingy and having meltdowns and being sort of invisible. I've kind of lost everybody else that I've met over the years, or we've grown apart. I didn't really notice stuff as much when I spent 16 hours a day reading for three years, but college sort of made me lose that lest I fail anything. I'm a horrible perfectionist. I just haven't really had the mental energy to engage myself in anything new. I also spent two years in a text-based roleplaying game for about 12 hours a day.