I Struggle To Meet New People

(why can only women cash in on painful personal experiences, publishers?)

I don’t want to sound melodramatic here, that I’ve been at uni for all of three days and I’ve not met people I’ll move in with next year and be besties with for the next five decades, but I have noticed throughout my life that by far the worst part of a relationship with someone is, for me, meeting them in the first place. While you may be excited at the prospect of learning about new people, such exchanges only bring me a sense of dread and general suckiness.

Essentially, I fear that I’m everyone’s pity friend, especially at this time of year where we’re all meeting new people and making quick judgements about each other. We all have that one person who, despite being nice and friendly, has few (or simply zero) shared interests, doesn’t like the things you do, and is generally rather dull, that we hang out with not because of any particular desire to get to know them, and maybe not out of something as obvious or cold as pity, but because they’re on their own at a party and look like they’ve looked the sh*t out of that window.

This, almost certainly ungrounded, fear extends to all kinds of social interactions; when talking to an individual, I fear that they’ll excuse themselves to talk to a closer friend which, if they do I feel alone again, and if they don’t I worry it’ll happen eventually; in groups of people I am hesitant to talk about things, even the few hobbies I share with those people, because I’m concerned my ideas will be more of a one-off ‘that’s interesting James!’ thing, rather than a component part of a broader discussion (incidentally this may be why I’ve been told I’m more talkative in class, because there’ll be a teacher there to make my random points part of that wider discussion).

This also makes me hesitant to start conversations, especially with people I’ve just met or don’t know well, because I don’t want to bore them with my uninteresting hobbies, nor do I want to distract them from talking to their closer friends by selfishly shoving myself in front of them and holding them there for hours on end through the miracle of the social awkwardness that comes with excusing yourself from one conversation to go join another.

Also, don’t tell me to get over it and just talk to people, because they’re thinking the same as you and the fact that you have friends means that at least some people don’t think of you in that way, because that’s unusually hard for me; unlike my problems in the past – crap essay marks, unfinished projects, a reluctance to watch porn until I was sixteen for some pathetically moral reason – time and effort alone can’t solve this one, because it’s based on my perception of myself. Surprisingly, given the name of this blog, I have a rather low value of my own importance (ie I’m dispensable and my consciousness will leave a negligible impact on those around me) and so I’m likely to think that people don’t want to talk to me, even if they’re sitting in a pub just as alone as I am.

Indeed, the people that I have met have all been lovely, and a lot of them I’d like to hang out with more, and do things like read books and watch Bake-Off and throw bits of bread near a crowd of pigeons in two different directions at once to confuse them, and I’m sure most of them would be up for that (maybe not the third one), but I have a problem with actually starting up a conversation or asking someone to do a thing myself. This is why UCL’s events and societies have been a good place to actually go and do things to meet people (even if I don’t drink, so there’s that icebreaker gone).

Every night after going to one of those events, though, I think the same thing: I should have spoken more, I should have talked to that person, I like these guys so I need to let them know I wanna hang out some more but I never act on them. Tonight there’s a Writers’ Society welcome thing, so maybe I’ll meet some other introverted bastards with insecurities there, but it is a little stupid to look for introverts at a public meeting.

I find myself thinking about that a lot, sadly, that the next event I go to will be the one where I meet new people and make lots of friends I don’t feel unworthy of wasting the time of; over Summer it was the start of uni, now that events are coming and going it’s a selection of increasingly nerdy-sounding gatherings as I search for more and more introverted people to feel comfortable around, and by the end of Fresher’s Week I’ll probably look forward to the first essay we’re set just so that I’m sure to have a common activity with people that I can talk about.

But at the same time, I like the people I’m meeting because they’re who they are, and it would be both unrealistic and quite egotistical to expect them to suddenly get into all the garbage I like, or change their valuations of themselves and everyone around them, just so that diabetic guy on the fifth floor feels better about himself.

Humans are complicated, man. Naruto characters are much easier to figure out.

Incidentally, I realised in writing this post that this blog is paradoxically the most personal and public way I have of conveying ideas; the people who I’ve met at uni so far can all read this as many times as they want (I didn’t mean this in a passive-aggressive sense guys, by the way) but the fact that it’s not directed at anyone in particular means this is basically like a semi-private confession at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, so I feel comfortable to vent a bit.


5 thoughts on “I Struggle To Meet New People

  1. I think I’m in the same position. When I get around to talking to people, I find that I keep accidentally-on-purpose waffling on about some bullshit or expressing absurd opinions, ones that I’m not sure I even agree with, in order to start discussions and/or appear interesting in the spur of the moment. Oops.

  2. I know exactly what you mean.I’ve started to study again and meeting new people is the hardest thing I know.I never know how to talk to people.It feels like I have nothing in common with my fellow students.I always have a lot on my mind but I’m never courageous enough to say it out loud.

    1. Societies/clubs help, because that way you’re grouped with people of a similar interest, rather than being grouped by age as you are in school or university. This doesn’t mean you’ll get on with everyone, but it’s a good place to start. Also, I’ve found that opening with a handshake and giving your name to someone helps, that way they’re encouraged to give their name, and you start to trust each other, without having to ask them to tell you stuff. And once you’ve met one new person, you get a system going for others – it’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget it.

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