Have you ever found yourself wondering about the many ways of the world? Perhaps you daydream often about things you’d like to do and say, or people you’d like to meet? Do you enjoy philosophical discussions with others that allow you to drift off into the realm of ‘what if’? And better yet, do you often find yourself analyzing the people around you; watching them interact with their peers and making your own small theories as to why they act and feel the way they do? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are what we call a ‘deep thinker’, but is popularly described as an ‘over thinker’.
Deep thinkers are a rare jewel, often coveted by many but only appreciated by a few. This is because we seem special to the average person, but in reality, we often feel cursed. The problems that deep thinkers face in life are often different than the problems others face, and so we tend to handle our difficulties in a more curious manner, sometimes confusing or offending others.
I believe this is due to our never ending urge to analyze everything and everyone around us. Our mind says to say or do one thing, but our Spidey Sense is telling us that it may not be received well by our audience (mostly because we haven’t figured them out yet). Therefore, we may try a more PC version, but it isn’t really what we wanted to say. This causes us to feel as though we didn’t connect with the people around us or as though they didn’t understand what we meant (which they probably didn’t, because we gave them an edited version of something that was probably fine in the first place). If you ever feel this way around others, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
So let’s take a look at our first problem as a deep thinker: How do we communicate and connect with the people around us? How do we make friends? Let’s look at some quick tips for fitting into social situations and enjoying yourself while in unknown company.
- Find Others Like You
The first step to connecting with people is to realize that you are not the only one of your kind. There are other intelligent people out there that think about things just as ridiculously deep as you do. They are probably floundering as well, and you could save them. If you are at a social gathering of any kind, look for people that seem to feel uncomfortable in their surroundings. Look closely, however, because if they are anything like you, they can probably hide it well. When you spot one, make conversation. Open them up a bit by trying to get them to talk. Once they start talking, you’ll know if they are the friend for you, and you can pitch in on the conversation, showing them the same thing.
- Realize That Not Everyone Should Be Your Friend
In this, I simply mean that it’s ok to have four quarters, rather than a hundred pennies. Don’t feel bad if you only connect with one or two people, because those people are the ones that are on the same page as you. Your future friendship with them is going to be more satisfying than making friends with the girl who spent the entire evening bitching about her boyfriend and checking her phone. And who’s to say you’d ever get along with Mr. BusinessSuit? I’m sure they’re great people, and their friends must love them, but you’re looking for people more like yourself, and that’s a rare find.
- Quit Analyzing For, Like, FIVE Seconds
This one is easier said (er, typed) than done. People like us tend to like control. Not because we are controlling and want to rule everyone with a master thumb (although that would be cool). The reason we like control is so that we know what to expect and how to react. We feel more at ease around people we know and like than we do around strangers because we have a better sense of control. If you feel a certain way about something, you can say so, and you know how the people around you will react. When you are in the middle of a group of strangers, you are more reserved and immediately begin trying to understand the people around you so that you can feel that same sense of comfort and control.
Here’s a tip: That’s not gonna happen. Come to terms with the fact that you are all on equal footing, trying to figure each other out, and just be yourself. The truth is, they are either going to like you or they won’t. Be courteous, but don’t try to be somebody else, because you won’t enjoy the experience and this is YOUR life that you’re living. If you start analyzing someone, you are going to start forming your words around the imagined boundaries that you think they have, and that’s not being honest. Just as with you, these people have a right to know if you’re on their page or not. This isn’t about politics, so loosen up and enjoy yourself. Bring a friend if that will help you relax.
- Tell Stories
If you’re feeling too much like a silent wall flower, or even if all eyes are on you, (which will sometimes happen) don’t panic. Just tell a story. Having thick Irish blood in my veins, I like to believe I have practiced this trick to near perfection, as the Irish are great at telling a good story, but you don’t need to be Irish to capture people with your words. Do you have any tales that pertain to the current subject at hand? If not, find a way to change the subject to make the story fit into the conversation. It can be anything as simple as, “that reminds me of the time my uncle’s dentures fell into my principle’s coffee…” This is a (hopefully) appropriate topic that will instantly grab the interest of anyone nearby, unless you’re surrounded by humorless snobs.
The reason behind this: everyone loves to laugh, and everyone loves to laugh with other people. Why do you think comedians are so popular? So tell your (true) story and feel free to mildly exaggerate where it’ll add a bit of flavor or minimize where you think it may cause offense. Don’t worry if you aren’t very good at it. Practice makes perfect and there is usually a funny fellow nearby that will jump in with comical tidbits to add character to your tale. Sharing a story with those around you is a wonderful way to open up and relax. It will also help those around you to relax, putting you in a favorable (and even glorious) light as the more nervous people begin to enjoy themselves.
- Open Up About Yourself
It’s a commonly known fact that opening up to someone on a personal level will help them to do the same. Police use this trick often when hunting for a confession to a crime, and so you can use it too! Tell people things about yourself that aren’t commonly known, and it will subconsciously make them feel closer to you on a personal level. Be careful to keep the information relatively positive, however, or people may feel that you are phishing for attention or are just generally being a Debbie Downer. It’s alright to tell people you were adopted, and feel free to tell them whether or not your birth family was happy about it or not. You can even mention how your adoptive family was too strict or wasn’t very supportive of your goals, but throw in some positive stuff as well. Make sure that your story has a point, and make sure the point is a positive one, before you start speaking. Throw in a bit of humor as well if you want to add the cherry on top, and move the conversation along by asking someone a question about themselves. They will open up, which will encourage everyone else to as well if you are not alone, and this will bring you all closer.
- Be Comfortable With Silence
We are always thinking, and sometimes we tend to do this out loud. This means that we have a tendency to always be talking as well, so make sure you aren’t hogging the spotlight. The best way to move conversation along is to ask questions. Be careful, however, as sometimes silence is necessary. Studies have shown that in every group setting, a silence occurs on average every seven minutes. This is natural, and should be appreciated, not feared. Silence is only uncomfortable if you are uncomfortable with the people around you. This discomfort can be due to not knowing the people well enough, and so it feels as though the silence is awkward. Just remind yourself that the silence is naturally occurring and that not everyone is uncomfortable, so you shouldn’t be either. Unless you just told a terrible joke and you can hear crickets in the background, relax and enjoy the moment. Someone will eventually speak again, or something will happen that will spark new conversation, so just sit back and wait for it.
Whatever you do, don’t pull out your phone or feign interest in a nearby plant. These are sure signs that you are uncomfortable, and other people can pick up on that easily, which may cause them to feel uncomfortable in turn. Just do whatever comes naturally to you. If it’s simply too intense, feel free to excuse yourself to mingle or use the restroom, or perhaps you’d like another drink. Ask if anyone wants anything while you’re away, putting you in a favorable light, and slip away to avoid your imagined awkwardness. No harm, no foul. By the time you return, conversation will be booming again.
So there you have it: my own little methods of keeping the crazy at bay. Let me know if any of these tips worked for you, and please feel free to leave any additional ideas in the comment section. Making friends is hard for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. There are people just like you around every corner, looking for someone to discuss the ways of the universe and the people who think they run it.