What to do about social anxiety?
February 12, 2011 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Orlando adventure update and please share some tips for loneliness

Recently asked for tips going into Orlando and some of you said you wanted to know what happened.
Well, after a week of living in my car a man answered my ad on Craigslist for a cook/lt housekeeping in exchange for room and board. We met in a public place and I trust him.
He is probably in his early 60s used to be a federal agent for the government, has two degrees in criminal justice and has worked for a lawyer's office for 20 some odd years doing research. I have been here two nights and he has been courteous, albeit a bit distant, which is preferred to someone trying to chase you around the room getting frisky.
He lives in an absolutely gorgeous home in Winter Park and I have the upstairs pretty much to myself. A couple of jobs are in the workings, so hopefully by midweek I will be among the employed again.
The biggest challenge I have is loneliness. I am very shy when dealing with others on a personal level. Probably a type of social anxiety. As long as I am interacting on a professional level all is fine. As a result, when I try to make friends it is incredibly painful. So often I just stick to myself until the loneliness builds up.
So, those of you who have suffered similar issues- how did you change and become relaxed around others?
posted by srbrunson to Human Relations (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Any chance you could take a class? I find if I am in a class, I am much more sociable. Perhaps something at a community college, since they are usually not expensive. If you like crafts, perhaps there is a crafting workshop or a group that meets. Maybe this would be a great time to take up knitting, quilting, pottery. Or a book circle? That is what I do to be social, since I am very shy.
posted by fifilaru at 3:36 PM on February 12, 2011

Winter Park has an absolutely wonderful Farmers Market, and during the Spring and Fall months there are many fairs and art shows that have lots of visitors. It's a great way to chat with strangers without feeling too strange, because everyone is relaxed and friendly.
You can talk to the vendors about the wares they are selling, and try samples of their goods.

And the area that you are living in should have many, many crafting groups or workshops that you can check out. It's a really neat area of Central Florida.
posted by lootie777 at 4:41 PM on February 12, 2011

In your previous posts you've indicated that religion plays a big part of your life. So have you found a church yet? Try one tomorrow morning. Any church. And when you walk in, introduce yourself to a greeter. Tell them it's your first time and that you're new in town. Try another church next Sunday, and another after that. You may find a group of people you'd really like to get to know and who will welcome you.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:05 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I remember from your first post that you have seven children. That is kind of a remarkable feat -- I mean, yes, anybody can reproduce, but being a mother of seven is just not that common nowadays, and it is a meaningful accomplishment. I cannot help but wonder if your niche/way in/etc is motherhood and the common bond that offers you with other parents young and old.
posted by kmennie at 6:43 PM on February 12, 2011

Try this: www.one brick.org. People are young and friendly and you can concentrate on volunteering to distract from your loneliness
posted by bananafish at 10:19 PM on February 12, 2011

I too find it difficult to make friends in a non-work setting. What has always worked well for me was volunteering -- it is enough like work that I don't have to worry about what to do with myself or how to interact with people, but also relaxed enough that it's easier to make friends because people are less worried about their professional image, etc.

Seek out volunteer activities that will have you working with the same group of volunteers repeatedly over a long period of time. Political campaigns are great for this. You may think "but it's not election season!" but the best campaigns are already at work. Getting involved this early will make you one of the "in crowd" old-timers by the time everyone else shows up in the fall. Also, putting in time as a volunteer early on often leads to paying jobs later in the campaign when there is more money (or even a longer-term job on the candidate's staff if he/she wins!). So read up on local politics, find a candidate or cause you believe in, and jump in!

If you're not into politics, I imagine that volunteering at whatever church you join would probably provide similar social opportunities.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:57 AM on February 15, 2011

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