With social distancing restrictions being lifted and things slowly beginning to return to normal – or at least a new normal – it’s time to start thinking about getting back out there among the people. But what if you’ve become so accustomed to socializing only with a small number of friends, family, or pets? Little things like the thought of starting, having, and gracefully ending a conversation with a stranger can seem daunting. Not to worry! We’re here to help. Check out these helpful tips for reintegrating, and get ready to make new friends like a boss.
1. Take it Slow
There’s no rush. Start small. Invite a friend you haven’t seen for a while out to coffee or stroll around a bustling area like downtown Dallas or Deep Ellum. No need to strike up any conversations, just remember to breathe, and say “excuse me” when appropriate. And remember, if things get too intense, you can leave at any time and no one will think any different of you.
2. Socialize at Home
Chances are this is what you’ve already been doing but in very small groups. Now it’s time to up the ante. Have a little party and keep adding names to your guest list until you’re shaking and can’t breathe. Take a break, drink some water and think about puppies or kittens. Now, go back to your list. Are there more people on it than you have shared a single, closed space with in over a year? Will they all fit in your apartment? Find the right balance of those two factors and then get ready to party. While you can’t run home if things get too intense, you can run to your bedroom and lock the door. Be sure to stock some refreshments in there.
3. Challenge Yourself
Once you’ve conquered the first two challenges, it’s time to intensify things. Like music? Find an outdoor concert to attend. Into Renaissance fairs? There’s probably one of those happening somewhere. Attending one of these or other outdoor events will force you to be in close proximity to a large number of unfamiliar people. Again, you can easily leave if you get overwhelmed. However, if this is an event you paid to enter, quietly slipping away may be slightly more challenging. You’ll need to take your time, get in line for the exit, and try not to have the frantic look of a desperate chainmail or fairy figurine thief.
You did it! Now, keep practicing. Go to more concerts and other outdoor events. As you get more comfortable, you may want to begin attending indoor events, too. Pretty soon, you will be back in the most pit, pressed shoulder-to-sweaty-shoulder with complete strangers. Yay!
5. But, Don’t Stress
One important thing to keep in mind is that you’re not the only one who has forgotten how to interact with others. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you don’t remember how to start a conversation, or end one. We’re all in the same boat here. Some people are just better at pretending. You do you!
For more tips on partying down post-pandemic, visit the Mosaic Dallas blog.