Getting Through the Bullshit and Actually Becoming More Social
Let’s ask some hard questions.
How do you become more social?
How do you walk up to a crowd of strangers and, boom, strike a conversation? And to boot, feel no anxiety?
How do you enjoy any party without the stuttering, self-conscious-ness, rising heartbeat, and/or sweats?
These are the tough questions everyone asks, mostly in their lonesome. Typical answer (i.e. advice) for the “How can I be social” question is horseshit.
Here are some examples of bad advice:
“Don’t care about what others think.”
Yuck. I can already hear the agonies of those who followed that advice and experienced zero change.
Just repeating “I am confident” or “Be myself” isn’t going to do shit. What do these words even mean? We are just feeding this amorphous bullshit to each other.
But I don’t blame anyone; everyone is echoing everyone else. It’s just a circlejerk of bad advice. Mutual shitslinging. It’s part of human nature.
We like telling bad stories.
Over and over again.
(If you just want the “meat” of this post, skip this section. Here I discuss why social skills are essential for happiness.)
Why social skills? Why not spend your spare time learning Python or Chinese or any other more *valuable* skills?
Simple. I studied social skills to be happier.
Why would anyone do anything else?
Your social health — both the depth and breadth of your friendships — contribute directly to happiness. There is copious research behind this. Resilience Factor. Harvard Grant Study. Research on people’s regrets, just before death.
Having friends makes you happy. Who knew?
And even if you are just career-oriented, in the modern day, it’s not “Know How”, but “Know Who”. Who do you know? Who can you connect?
Find opportunities for cooperation and win-win — you will make a lot of money this way. *And* create a lot of value. *And* be very useful. The triple whammy.
Connect people who need each other.
The real meat starts here.
How do you improve your social skills?
Not through schools, unfortunately. No such school exists. You can’t take classes for this shit. Even if you could, it’s probably ineffective or expensive as fuck.
Self-study is the way to go. Work on yourself, on your own terms. Set your own time frame and expectations.
This summer, I did just that — a self-study of social skills.
The curriculum is simple. And it works. And best of all, it’s uber-gratifying.
Social Self-Study Curriculum
1. Get a physical calendar.
2. For today, jot down the names of five friends.
3. Message those friends.
4. Repeat tomorrow. With different five friends.
Now this daily routine shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Done.
Don’t. Waste. Time. Trying to. Craft. The. Perfect. Fucking. Message!
I connected with around 250 people this summer this way.
And it was wonderful. And deeply gratifying.
Okay, so what do you say to these people? What are the words? The script?
I am not going to give you a fucking script; the process is super simple and… natural.
The secret: appreciate your friends. There is a reason why you thought about them. Say what you think. Say “I missed you” (because you did). Say “Let’s catch up soon” (because you want to).
We are sociable creatures. We feel lonely. We want friends. Let’s make friends!
Let’s be honest with ourselves.
Some philosophers say loneliness is part of the human condition.
I start 97% of my engagements with friends/acquaintances. Ninety-seven motherfucking percent. 32 out of 33, I am the one who calls, I am the one who texts, I am the one who knocks.
Are there rejections? Of course. Some people never respond to texts. Most people (9/10) never call back.
But I call them back. Again. And again. (Three is my limit :P)
I no longer get affected by these “rejections” because I realized these motherfuckers are just lazy. It’s no antagonism, just laziness and perfectionism. (And don’t you fucking dare say you are busy. You are never too busy for friends. Ever.)
The other day I was strolling the streets of Seoul, I picked up the phone, and called 9 people. Every single one of those calls went straight to voicemail. Lazy fucks.
Time difference isn’t even an excuse, because I always calculate that shit. +8 hours.
But the tenth person picked up and we had a great hour-long conversation. I also heard the best compliment in recent memory: “You are an Airbender.” (Yus)
It’s about that one person who engaged with me for an hour, not the other nine who didn’t pick up (granted, the call did show up as a sketchy Korean number).
These days I measure humility by behavior, not internal dialogue. Am I exhibiting humble behavior?
One of the strongest signs of humility is approaching others. Giving before receiving.
Smart kids at smart schools are used to being called smart. Used to getting things for free. Used to not having to approach.
It’s similar to how an attractive girl can get away with being a bitch.
Just like how smart kids can get away with being anti-social. Get away with not giving first.
Of course it’s fucking terrifying. It’s terrifying for everyone. What if they don’t like me? What if they think my message is weird? What if…
Fuck the What If’s. You do fine approaching a recruiter for an internship. Why not approach a friend for giving care and attention?
I hope you hadn’t forgotten the self-study action plan. If you read this, feel this, and don’t take action, I’m sorry to say, it’s just mental masturbation.
And masturbation really doesn’t get you anywhere.
Same with worry. Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
Don’t let worry suffocate you. Learn how to deal with it when you are still young. Defeat worry with action, not thoughts.
May the force be with you.