How to Meet and Feel Comfortable Around New People as a Shy Introvert

A group of friends sit on a blanket at the park

I’ve found that if I enjoy the activity that we’re doing, it makes socializing less draining and anxiety-provoking.

Growing up, I was told that I was too shy, that I needed to make more friends, and that I was rude for not talking much when I was in a group setting. 

My parents were the ones who encouraged me to “get out there” and meet new people. They forced me into many sports and activities, like competitive cheer, gymnastics, national honor society, track and field, and more.

Don’t get me wrong. I was good at these activities, and sure, there were times when I enjoyed them. But often, I found myself dreading them. Overall, I didn’t have a desire to talk to new people or make new friends — and that’s where the problem came in.      

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Struggling With Meeting New People

One of the biggest challenges that shy introverts like me face is talking to acquaintances or strangers. And it doesn’t get easier as we get older. We all have those friends who “get” us, but when it comes to making new friends, it can still be a challenge.

Personally, I think I sometimes come off as rude or snobby. The truth is, I am just being quiet or awkward. I also experience several physiological symptoms when meeting new people, including excessive anxiety, nervousness, sweating, and blushing. These factors make it even more difficult to talk to strangers, especially in large groups. 

Another factor is my energy level. We introverts only have a certain energy capacity, and after a long, busy day, it can be hard for us to socialize in big groups.

However, as I’ve gotten older, there are a few tricks I’ve learned that have helped me meet and be comfortable around new people

3 Ways to Meet and Feel Comfortable Around New People as an Introvert

1. Plan and schedule, which are two strengths of introverts. 

Every Sunday night, I plan my week. As you probably know, many of us introverts are great planners.

I start by writing down my work schedule and tasks I have to complete each day. Then, I write in my class schedule and assignments that I have to work on and complete for the week. Afterwards, I write in time to focus on my self-care and relax to help me de-stress from the week. (Scheduling that time is very important!) After I have these components accounted for, I look for free time for friends and new acquaintances who I would like to get to know better.

I try to plan these social times on days when I am less busy and don’t have a lot going on. That way, I know I’ll have more energy for them. This also helps me to plan for any reactions that may come up, like anxiety.

Sometimes, I might cancel these events because I won’t feel like going. I try not to make it a consistent habit, though. To avoid canceling plans, especially last-minute, I recommend planning activities you are at least 90 percent sure you will follow through with. Which brings me to my next point…

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

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2. Do enjoyable, introvert-friendly activities.

Oftentimes, introverts get invited to events and activities that they don’t enjoy, like parties and large sporting events or festivals. I’ve found that if I accept an invitation to such an event, then most likely, I will cancel or dread going. This increases my overall anxiety around socializing even more.

To help with this, I try to help plan the event, so it is an introvert-friendly activity that I’ll enjoy doing.

For example, if a new acquaintance invites you out for coffee, you may not want to hang out at the coffee shop… but you still want to get coffee and see them. So what do you do?

Instead of reluctantly accepting (or declining) the invitation, be proactive. Plan the coffee date and time, and offer suggestions of low-key places vs. loud, crowded ones. Or suggest grabbing coffee to go and then drinking it somewhere calmer, like a park or their house. This way, you are still spending time with them, but you may not feel as overwhelmed. 

I have found that if I enjoy the activity that we are doing, it makes socializing less stressful, draining, and anxiety-provoking. 

3. Try something new, like a new sport or hobby.

The last trick is to try new things, whether it’s a hobby or sport or you-name-it. Not only will you benefit from learning something new, but you’ll also meet and talk to others with similar interests. 

If you are nervous about going alone, invite a friend along; this can also help keep you accountable.

One new thing I have started doing recently is attending a kickboxing class. I have always enjoyed working out and running, but I have never done a group class. So far, it has been a pretty good experience. 

I still get anxious and nervous about going, and I don’t talk to a lot of people when I am there. But it has been a good way to push myself out of my comfort zone, meet new people, and do something enjoyable with others. I focus on the having-fun part, and the rest follows.

Even if you don’t talk to many people the first few times that you do a new activity, that’s okay. Getting out there and trying new things will help you get comfortable being around new people — and hopefully you’ll have fun at the same time!

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