Say hello to old David.
– I worried what others thought of me and that they wouldn’t like me.
– It took me forever to connect and make new friends.
– I felt weirdly incapable of making normal conversation and coming up with things to say.
– I felt like I bored people because I wasn’t interesting enough (and was often ignored in group conversations.).
– Often, just thinking about talking to strangers made my hands sweat.
– And man… don’t get me started about talking to girls. Here’s where I went full weirdo.
And what’s more, I was certain that’s just the way I was.
This didn’t just make my conversations awkward…
It slowly eroded the limited social life I had.
No one wants to experience the pain of talking to an awkward person. I eventually realized that it wasn’t their responsibility to figure out that I was a nice and interesting person.
Friends didn’t want to deal with awkwardness and forced small talk. So they made up excuses. They were often “busy.”
Of course, I didn’t realize that it was only excuses until years later.
I only realized it when I saw how eager people can be to hang out with you when you know how to connect.
How I freed myself from the prison in my head
Think about that awkward conversation you had with someone. Or the date where you didn’t know what to say. Or the job interview where you didn’t come off as “the right candidate” even if you were a perfect fit.
I want to tell you about how I got to where I am today. How I freed myself from thoughts spinning in my head, a racing heart around strangers, and lonely weekends worse than prison.
I was determined to be successful in life because I was sure that once I got successful, things would change.
Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts?
- “Just wait until I get a new job.”
- “Just wait until I make more money.”
- “Just wait until I find the right guy/girl.”
- “Just wait until I look better.”
- “Just wait until I succeed with my dream.”
So I worked hard for years.
I started a company that did really well. I moved to a nice house in a great area and could buy myself whatever I wanted. So in the eyes of others, I did become successful.
But I didn’t feel successful, because nothing in my social life had really changed. I was still awkward. My school buddies had all moved to different cities. I still spent most weekends alone.
Nothing that really mattered had changed.
I understood that to be confident and natural around others I needed a new strategy.
It turned out that I’d made a huge mistake:
I thought it was wrong to read books on confidence; that it would make me fake. But I slowly realized that I couldn’t figure it all out on my own.
You know… those who went to school discos when they were kids built their social confidence “the natural way”. But still, they needed a decade or more of practice…
If I did the same thing, it would have taken just as long for me.
And I was already a decade behind in social experience. I needed something quicker – I needed to learn instead of just blindly doing.
So, I read everything I could on confidence and social interaction. I was busy running my company, but I practiced whenever I had a chance. Just a few minutes of practice on some days still made a difference.
I had been so stupid. I threw away 1000$ on a new TV because that’s “normal”. But I started to sweat when a course about social skills capable of changing my life cost a fraction of that.
Finally, I understood how much faster I learned by tapping into other’s knowledge.
And the opportunities my social confidence have given me have returned at least 100X of what I invested in books and courses:
- All the friends I’ve made since I started my journey
- The amazing people I’ve met
- The life I now enjoy in NYC
- And my company, SocialPro…
I took small steps.
- Instead of just ignoring the passerby on the street, I nodded (even though it felt super uncomfortable at first).
- Instead of just nodding to the cashier, I asked how she was.
- Instead of just exchanging the basic greetings with my coworkers, I asked them how their vacation went and how their kids were doing.
I got all of that thanks to investing in myself.
I took small steps, practicing what I’d learned. I didn’t have to do anything scary.
Here’s an example:
When I met people, I just couldn’t relax and felt insanely awkward.
It came to the point where I would stay in my apartment anxiously watching Netflix instead of meeting people.
In one of the many books or courses I went through, I learned a method called “making friends with your nervosity”. Instead of trying to push nervosity away or avoid it, you can pay attention to it and let it be in your body without trying to fight it. You can even name it. (I named the pressure in my chest Bob.)
Something strange happens: When you stop “fearing the fear”, it loses its grip on you.
Anyway, when I first tried it, it didn’t go well.
There were so many other things to think about when I actually talked to someone.
It was like when I learned to drive. At first, it was impossible to steer, accelerate, and look for pedestrians at the same time.
But I practiced whenever I was around strangers.
One day I talked to someone and realized that I didn’t have that anxiety in my body. I actually enjoyed a conversation with a stranger.
WIN! I smiled all the way home.
I started to realize that the voice I had in my head had been wrong the whole time. (You know, that voice telling me, “You don’t have what it takes.”)
I made a realization:
Being able to talk to people in a relaxed way and connect with them is a skill you can learn. It’s not something you have to be born with.
Do you get that? It took me years to really get that.
I could be myself. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone else to fit in.
When I saw how much people liked to be around me, my self-confidence grew.
Here are some recent photos I’ve taken. I included them here because I think that they sum up my social life today. I’ve never been a party person. I always wanted a close circle of friends I can hang out with when I’m up for it.
And it all started with the understanding that being confident, natural, and relaxed around people is a skill you can learn.
Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if this never happened…
According to research, we lose half our friends every seventh year. This means that there would be no way for me to make friends faster than I lost them. For me, that would mean spending more and more nights and weekends in an empty apartment as the years pass by.
Bottom line: Choosing to not do anything is a bad option.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear what your path has looked like so far and where you would like to go in the future!