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Donna's Guide to Having a Social Life
What is a social life?
If we go around asking people this, we’ll get many different answers. Some people might say that it’s doing fun things with other people. Some people might say that it’s simply enjoying other people’s company. Some people might say that it’s going out of our houses and meeting new people in exciting environments.
All of these answers are right. A social life can't be pinned down to just one definition.
If I had to give it a shot, I would say that a social life is emotionally connecting with other people in a way that brings us pleasure.
Why is it important?
I’m going to venture out and say something that I don’t know if it’s controversial or not, totally ludicrous or not.
It comes to down to biology. It’s in our genes. All of us, as human beings. Just by being a human being, we have this need. We can’t escape this need.
When we don’t have this in our lives, we’re not really ourselves. We lose something in us that makes us human. And when we don’t have that, we suffer greatly.
How satisfied are you with your social life?
It’s hard to have…
I’m going to venture out and make another bold statement. First of all though, there are a lot of people who are happy with their social lives. They feel connected to people, and the world really, in a way that makes them feel warm in their hearts.
But this is my bold statement: these people only represent a small percentage of the world. I can’t give any kind of number for this; that’s impossible. But the number of people who feel truly satisfied with their social lives is much less than we might think it is.
The reason for this situation is that it’s just part of the human condition of living on earth. A good social life is not an easy thing to have. Even though we want it and were born for it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can have it.
There are many reasons why people don’t attain this. I won’t delve into that here. I don’t know all the reasons.
But there are some things we are in control of in regards to having a good social life, and these are things we should know about if we want to have a good one. And if we understand these steps and are able to practice them in our lives, then there’s a very good chance that we can have the social life we always dreamed about.
Which of the 6 steps below is the hardest for you to do socially?
1. Don’t judge anyone you just met or haven’t met, in terms of whether he or she could be your friend or not. Everyone has the potential to be your friend, in the beginning.
This means that the random person you see walking down the street, the person who has nothing in common with you, in terms of his or her race, age, economic level, culture, etc., could still be your friend. It’s important to open ourselves up to everyone in this world, and I really do mean, everyone, because it shows that we ultimately value other people’s friendships just for them being themselves.
Of course, we will often find ourselves having more and stronger friendships with the people we do have more of these factors in common with. That’s natural and a good thing too.
2. Make yourself available to social invitations, if you are available. Don’t be afraid of seeming too available all the time, as if you have nothing to do.
We all feel a little stupid at times for not being as busy or popular as other people around us. I know I do. But one of the most attractive things we can do is to show other people our vulnerabilities. Paradoxically, showing other people how lame we really are is actually what makes other people like us the most.
Besides, many people are often less busy and popular than we think they are, or than what they appear to be, to us. And even if they are indeed super busy and popular right now, there probably was a time in their lives when they were just as bored as we might be right now with absolutely nothing to do, or were even more so.
3. Constantly take the first step to reach out to people. Be prepared to be rejected often and don’t take it personally when it happens.
This is rather self-explanatory. If we want things to happen to us, the best way for that to happen is to make it happen ourselves! There are many, many ways we can reach out to other people.
It can be as simple as asking someone we just met, that we think we could enjoy spending time with, if he or she wants to get a meal with us. Or reaching out to an old acquaintance that we want to connect with again.
We can look into what kind of events are going on around us, and invite ourselves to these things, if it seems reasonable to. A lot of times, people are happy to have more people show up to group events, and so it can be a really welcomed gesture when we invite ourselves to things.
We can also plan social events ourselves. This doesn’t have to be very daunting at all. A lot of times, we can plan things with a friend or even just merely help a friend plan things. Either way, this guarantees us an invitation to the event, and people are also more likely to remember us as being interested in these types of social gatherings, for future instances.
The hardest part of this step is simply having to face rejection. It’s definitely going to happen at one point or another, and deep down, we know it. Sometimes the rejections hurt. People can be insensitive or reject us for mean reasons. Other times, it will feel like a normal and natural response to our invitations. Either way, the way to not let rejection get to us is to remind ourselves that by taking the first step to initiate things, we have already succeeded socially.
Another key thing about this step is that we shouldn’t ever stop doing it, even when we are totally happy and satisfied with our social lives. Because, our social lives always have to be maintained, and this step is key to both creating and maintaining it.
4. Lower your expectations about what a social gathering should be like. Not every social gathering has to be the most fun thing you’ve done in awhile. Sometimes it’s only marginally better than staying in at home, alone. Even in that case, consider it a success.
A social life and social gatherings are supposed to be fun, pleasurable, and sometimes, we can let this idea get into our minds too much. This is just a common mistake we can make.
Not every social event we go to, whether big or small, whether planned out well in advance or not, whether with people we know well or not, has to be totally memorable, fun, and exciting. My way of judging whether I should have gone to a particular social event or not is to simply ask myself if I would have had a better time not going and staying in at home, alone. If the answer is no, then that’s a good reminder to myself that I actually did have fun.
We can’t really enjoy our social lives fully, until we have realistic expectations and are happy with them.
5. Mix up the type of friendships you have in your life! Variety is the spice of life, and it’s the same with a social life.
Make a conscious effort to develop various types of friendships in your life. Friends you belong to the same group of friends with, friends you are in a community with, friends you get along well with on an individual basis and share more intimate things with.
Also, be sure you don’t limit yourself to friend groups that are only all-male or all-female, although these are great to have too. Try to also have a good mix of both old and new friendships that you are actively maintaining in your life.
I really like this step. Accomplishing this step well is what makes our social lives exciting and alive to us. But it’s also very hard to do.
This is a very key, very important step though, simply because we have a need for ALL of these types of friendships in our lives, in order to feel truly fulfilled socially. And we have to have strong friendships in all of these categories too. Just having strong friendships in one category, but weak ones in another, doesn’t fulfill this step. If we are lacking strong friendships in any particular category, we will feel that hole in our lives, even if we can’t quite put our finger on what’s wrong.
Often times in life, the more important and good something is for us, the harder it is for us to have. That’s the case here.
But that doesn’t mean this step is impossible to achieve. The key to this step is to always keep challenging ourselves to be rather uncomfortable. To push ourselves to keep opening up to people, in every type of social relationship.
When we feel this type of discomfort in our lives, then that is also when we will feel all the beauty and excitement that comes from having a fulfilling social life.
6. Don’t fill up your life with too many social activities. Make sure you are able to, and are, enjoying life by yourself too.
This step sounds like it’s taking away from our social lives, in order to make room for something else that should be important to us too. But that’s not the case. Consciously managing and putting a limit on our social lives is actually necessary, vital, for having good ones.
The end goal of having a social life is for enjoyment, pleasure. And part of enjoyment in life, even if we are the biggest extroverts, still comes from doing solo activities by ourselves. If we don’t take time to balance out our social lives with enjoying time by ourselves, then we can’t really fully enjoy ourselves in anything in our lives, including our social lives.
Having a social life
The mark of a good social life is not about how busy our social calendars are. It’s not about how many popular or exclusive events we are invited to or part of, compared to other people. It’s not about how many people we know. It’s not about having the most deep connections with people ever.
The mark of a good social life is simply that, in our hearts, we feel connected with people and the world around us. We look at our life and feel like we belong somewhere, in every part of it. If we want to feel like we are easily part of natural groups, teams, we know where to go for that. If we want to feel like we belong somewhere where a lot of people regularly congregate, we know where to go for that. If we want to feel like we are really known by someone and accepted for it, we know where to go for that.
We feel like we are wholly ourselves, yet also totally integrated with the world around us. We feel good.