As women, our need for community is more than just a cultural norm but actually has biochemical roots and has very direct effects on our stress levels and, therefore, overall health.
Our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is quieted when our relational cups are full, our overall stress response is decreased because our cortisol levels become more normalized, and we feel better equipped to handle other life-stressors. In short, we become wonder women, of sorts, and are far more capable to take on life’s demands when we have community.
Once you accept how important it is and how we were never meant to do this life alone, the next step is figuring out how exactly to go about establishing new friends. Gone are the days of instant BFFs simply by sharing a piece of gum on the playground. These days, we may have to work a bit harder…but the rewards are great, so hang with me!
I’ve noticed that even as an extrovert, this has been a struggle for much of my adult life. I’m good in situations where I know people…I can work that room! But put me in the midst of a bunch of strangers and I become a bit of an awkward wall-flower. Can you relate? It seems to stem from not wanting to say something stupid, leading to rejection (hello junior high, my old friend).
So let’s get practical. Here are some things you can start practicing when you find yourself in those uncomfortable situations:
- 1. First, it helps to understand MOST people feel the same way, so approach each interaction with the thought in mind, “how can I make them feel at ease around me?”
- 2. Ask a question to break the ice. Consider the following as options:
- “It’s nice to meet you, Sarah, tell me a little about yourself.”
- “Do you live in the area?”
- “What do you do for a living?”
- “I love your lip color, what is it called?”
- “You seem to hold yourself with such ease in the middle of a room full of strangers…what is your secret?”
If that first question feels a little too personal right up front, go with one of the others (or something similar) because what is true of human nature is that we want to be seen, known, and heard. So if you are providing a safe place for that to happen, you are putting them at ease and opening up the door for conversation to begin.
The key is to have a few questions in your back pocket, take a genuine interest in what they have to say, and always remember, it’s not about you, it’s about making them feel like the most important person in the world because chances are, even if they appear completely confident, they feel awkward too!
If you’d like to hear about my personal story with this, go listen to my podcast episode here:
Now go find that community and make some new friends!