Q: I have social anxiety when it comes to parties. How do I talk to people, especially if everyone else knows each other?
A: Rarely does everyone at a party know everyone else. You need to change your mindset when you enter the room. Tell yourself, “I am on a mission to find other people that appear lost or standing by themselves. My goal for the night is to make them feel welcome.” Many people suffer from social anxiety. If you give yourself a job, it helps. Plus, you are benefitting someone else in the process. I am an extrovert and could carry on a conversation with a wall, but the most difficult experience I encountered occurred when my husband and I attended a party hosted by a consul from another country. A country that did not speak English! We walked into the home, and everyone there was huddled into tight circles. (Side note: A gracious guest never forms a closed circle. Your body language is saying others are not welcome. Always leave an opening for another person to enter.) There was no group we could hop into. I was not about to stand there by myself like a bump on a log. We walked up to a circle and stood behind one of the people. As soon as there was a break in the conversation, my husband tapped the person on the shoulder which caused the circle to open as that person turned around. My husband introduced himself to that person and I introduced myself to the person on the right. The group was delighted to talk with us. It turns out none of them knew anyone else at the party. They had formed a tight, closed circle due to their own insecurities. Fortunately, they all spoke English as a second language. If they had not? We would have nodded our heads and tried again with another group. Your hostess did not invite you to stand in a corner. Take bold steps and remind yourself that many people feel the same way you do.
Together with you,