Some of us are the life of every party: talking to everyone, telling loud jokes, and having a wonderful time. Others of us, though, are different: we hang back at the edges of the party, watching as others have anxiety-free fun.
It’s tough being shy, and we shy folks don’t want to be forced out of our shells. We’d rather not come out at all, to be honest, but if we have to, we’d rather be coaxed.
If you’re hoping to come out of your own shell a bit, one of the best ways to learn to do so comfortably is to get a new hobby. Hobbies bring us together with like-minded people, and they can encourage us to expand our comfort zone. Here are a few ways to track down the perfect hobby for you.
Where are the other people like you?
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You sit down at a table at your friend’s wedding. The group is talking loudly. You’re getting anxious. What are they talking about?
In all likelihood, they’re talking about something you have no interest in or knowledge about. No wonder you aren’t enjoying it! You’re feeling anti-social, but you’re also feeling out of your depth and out of your comfort zone. Rather than tackle all of these problems at once, you should isolate the key one (your anti-social feelings). And to do that, you need to find like-minded people who share your interests and knowledge.
A great place to see this at work is at comic and science fiction conventions. While there are certainly many gregarious and sociable comic book fans, these sorts of fandoms also have their fair share of shy folks. But in environments like these, where everyone is there to have a good time and share their interests, it’s a little easier for those of us with social anxiety to come out of our shells. Try heading to a small local meet-up first, then building up to big conventions and even cosplay – a fairly bold activity that nevertheless has become a favorite of plenty of shy people!
Shy people have a hard time speaking up. We may have an even harder time sharing our feelings. Try adopting a hobby that encourages you, bit by bit, to put yourself out there a little more. Head to the local dance studio or martial arts studio for hobbies that put your body in motion and your mind in tune with your movements (you can choose private classes, which eliminates the crowds, or big group classes, which may allow you to feel less conspicuous – whatever is easier for you!). Or try a more personal and contemplative hobby like painting or writing. While these latter hobbies are traditional solo ventures, you’ll quickly see that any hobby can lead to a sense of community. Your local artists and local writers likely know each other and get together at meet-ups and other events. Maybe you have a place in that group, too!
Take online hobbies to the next level
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Yes, solo hobbies like writing and painting (or fishing, or hiking, or countless others) can lead to personal relationships. In the same way, seemingly impersonal interactions – like online gaming – can lead to more personal connections. All you have to do is take these relationships outside of the internet.
You may already have the hobby that helps free you from your shell. You may already have the people that you’ll feel most comfortable with. Why not try to meet them in person? If you have a community on a social network, blogging platform, online game, or other online ecosystem, speak to your friends about meeting up in real life. They may share your anxieties, but this may also be a great way for you to move forward together.
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Hobbies are the perfect way to expand your comfort zone. And no, we’re not talking about leaving your comfort zone – while you should do that from time to time, that’s not how most people go through life. You shouldn’t have to leave your comfort zone just to socialize – socializing should be inside your comfort zone. So expand that comfort zone with the help of something you’ll learn to love or already do! Your hobbies are your path out of social anxiety.