You’re sitting at a family gathering around the holidays marvelling at all of the awkward questions that relatives have been throwing your way. You feel like nobody knows you from the scratch in the wallpaper, and it’s starting to get a little lonely. Regardless of any social challenges or quirks, you are completely worthy and capable of excelling socially. Challenging yourself, getting support, and owning your authenticity are all tools to help you do your thing.

1. Challenge yourself

If you happen to be a raging introvert and you’d like to experiment with extrovert-ing for fun, there are lots of ways to work engaging with people into your routine. Whether you want to give it a shot just once or on a regular basis, reaching out to people can be empowering and fulfilling. Complimenting someone or striking up a conversation in a public place like the commuter train or coffee line can be a great way to connect briefly without having to commit to a full-on conversation. The baby-step of engagement, chatting with a stranger lets you dip your toe in the water gradually.

Phone calls are another way to engage with someone without having to commit to a large block of time. Give Aunt Sue a ring and ask her about her week. She’ll be thrilled that you thought to check in, and you can pat yourself on the back for some human interaction.

Asking someone out to eat is a little more involved; you’re obligated to spend more than three minutes with them. If you’re starving for a break from your own mind, you might invite a friend to lunch. You can always let them know ahead of time that you have a commitment later in the afternoon for a sure end time.

Feeling brave? Go ahead and have some people over to your place. Whether for board games, cards, or just to hang out, opening your home to other people is a true mark of hospitality and openness. Plus, people aren’t going to come if they don’t want to; it’s guaranteed that the people there actually want to spend time with you.

Consider attending an event, class, or volunteer opportunity that peaks your interest. You’ll probably run into some people that share at least one of your interests, and there’s no pressure to interact. Whether it’s yoga in the park, an art show, or a concert, you’re free to mingle or go it alone as you please.

2. Support network

Do you just feel like nobody’s going to understand what’s going on in your head? Get some support for yourself; check out a local group. Whether you’re looking for basic ADHD resources, autism info, or something else entirely, support groups are a great option. Everyone’s in the same boat and there’s absolutely zero shame about your experience. Trustworthy and solid, a support group can really help to ground and ease worries.

3. Be you

Do you know that you have some social challenges but just not care? Good for you! Own your personality, your quirks, the way you do life. There’s only one of you, and it’s a superpower. If you find that the five people you’re closest to aren’t appreciating you for everything that you are, it might be time to reassess your community and swap some individuals out for others who know you’re awesome. Rather than trying to change the people around you, seek like-minded individuals who will bolster your strengths and ease your worries. There’s nothing worse than trying to be something or someone you’re not. Own your individuality, your talents, your quirks, and everything that makes you who you are.

Social challenges are an exceedingly common phenomenon. Whether you decide to challenge yourself to connect, seek support, or own them, you’re sure to learn something about yourself along the way.

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Author: Elliot Caleira

Elliot Caleira is a freelance writer in the self-mastery and health and wellness spaces. When he’s not writing you’ll find him cooking or teaching Portuguese classes.

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