How To Improve Your Social Life [Even If You’re Not Outgoing]9 min read

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It was the weekend, and I was feeling drained and lethargic. I don’t know if it was from my routine of long hours in front of the screen, lack of sufficient sleep, or the stress from cutting the lawn. Whichever the case, I was tired of the routine and needed some metaphorical sunshine. So, I reached out for it.

A few days later, I was sitting down on a comfy plastic chair with a pal. A 75-inch wide TV hung in front of me and I had the PS5 controller in my hands. About 45 minutes in, my can was empty and I felt slightly euphoric. There was a good amount of laughing and talking, and after about an hour and a half, we left. It was a really nice experience (the sunshine I needed).

A week earlier I had hung out with someone else in an arboretum. The sun was a bit intense, but under the shades of the trees, the breeze blew gently as we talked for minutes. Then, the insects started falling off the tree and on our bodies, so we had to leave. Yes, there were so many leaves on the floor too.

I really don’t know if I will enjoy visiting a club next week. I am usually uneasy around crowds. But, thankfully, I’ve found that it is also possible to improve my social life without being outgoing. And, I hope this piece helps you see that too.

What Is Social Life?

Your social life is your web of connections with others. It’s more than just having fun with friends and acquaintances, although that’s a perk! It’s about feeling like you belong, having a network of people you can rely on, and even growing as a person through your interactions. It’s about having people in your life who make you feel seen, heard, and understood, even if things aren’t always perfect. 

Think of it like a garden. You plant seeds of friendship, family bonds, or even connections with online communities. You sustain them with conversations, shared experiences, and support. These connections take time and effort to nurture, just like tending to a garden. And, sometimes the weather is sunny – you share laughs or have a heart-to-heart. But there can be storms too – maybe you have a disagreement or experience a socially awkward moment. (Just like a garden needs occasional rain, these challenges can make your connections stronger in the long run).

The most important thing is that your social life, like your garden, feels healthy and supportive. It doesn’t have to be broad or full of exotic plants. It’s not all about the number of people in it, or constant partying; a quiet coffee date with a close friend or a supportive conversation with a colleague can be just as enriching as a big gathering (like a Church or Concert).

“If you laugh with somebody, then you know you share something.”

– Trevor Noah

How To Build a Social Life [Without Being Outgoing]

If you aren’t naturally outgoing – i.e. you do not naturally love being around many people and jumping into conversations – the idea of building a “social life” can feel daunting or even off-putting. But, that’s only because you are mistaking being outgoing for building a social life. A fulfilling social life doesn’t necessarily mean constant interactions or large gatherings. It’s simply about creating meaningful connections that energise you, not drain you.

That last part is very very important. If crowds drain you, saying Yes to parties is not building a social life, it’s jumping into a social nightmare! You can be social yet have a small circle.

You don’t need a rigid list of dos and don’ts to build a social life. The key is to focus on quality over quantity. What might be effective in building a certain kind of social life may be disastrous for another. It’s all about developing deep bonds with people who you vibe with and who share similar interests with you.

The rules and activities of your social network are entirely up to you. If you enjoy reading, then a book club might be it for you. Joining online communities or forums is also a valid way to build a quality social life. But watch out – maladaptive behaviours can be like the ants that were falling on our bodies, making the social network annoying.

Stepping outside your comfort zone can be beneficial but you can also do it at your own pace and terms. You can make it a routine to go to a new place or engage in a new activity with a friend once in a while. But there is no rush and no hard rules.

“Surround yourself with people who feel like sunshine!”

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How To Be More Social 

Being social is like playing a PS5 with a Bro. It’s not about winning but having a blast with someone you like. You might even show them how to do a cool combo, unleash hidden powers, or activate a special mode even when they’re playing against you. It’s all about everyone having a good time and doing their best.  In the real world, this could be helping them fix their outfit, hyping them up to others, or… you get the idea! It’s all about connecting, belonging, and feeling the pure joy of hanging out with someone you like.

The biggest hurdle to being more social is often overcoming the limiting voice in your head that says things like, “Socialising doesn’t come naturally to me.”, “People won’t like me because of X reason”, or “I will embarrass myself”, etc. You must realise those are just false labels and subtle lies you are telling yourself. Studies about Liking Gaps have shown that we are our own worst critics and that people like us more than we usually think. We underestimate how much people want to connect with us; most of the time. 

You don’t have to radically change yourself to be more social. Start small by putting yourself in low-risk social situations you’d typically avoid, like making small talk with someone sitting next to you or saying Hi to a new connection online. 

Try to get out of your own head – don’t just focus on your own thoughts and insecurities. Be present. Did you find something interesting? Leave a comment; ask a question. Listen and observe. Reply, but also don’t hesitate to let them know about your interest or perhaps more questions their response might have raised.

You don’t have to be cool or perfect. You don’t have to walk into every interaction with a list of the interests you want to discuss. Deep connections are built on mutual understanding beyond just common hobbies. Get comfortable respectfully opening up about questions, insecurities, values, or life philosophies. Don’t be afraid to shine!

Perhaps, the issue is you do not know who you are and what you need. And, if that is the case, paradoxically, spending more time alone can make you more social. With solitude, you can get grounded in yourself – your values, passions and authentic personality. This way, you will be sure that when you unveil yourself (the part that seeks connection), the right people will resonate. And, you can easily tell that anyone who doesn’t connect – who gets offended, bored, or critical – is not the ideal person to bond with. As Bernard M. Baruch puts it, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Discard the notion that you must be a pretty extroverted social butterfly to have a fulfilling social life. Being more social isn’t about forcing yourself into crowds or faking smiles; it’s about first knowing and accepting yourself fully. From that grounded sense of self, you can then seek out your kindred spirits through small, genuine interactions. And, don’t be afraid to let go of relationships that no longer serve you.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one”

– C.S. Lewis

Conclusion: Cultivate Your Social Life Mindfully

Don’t approach your social life like a trade, but as an investment that compounds over time. Don’t merely seek fleeting fun, but be willing to also take small, uncomfortable initiatives – learn how to communicate better, leave your house, say Hi to strangers, attend events, or follow up to nurture connections.

Gradually, your efforts will bloom into an expansive network of folks who like you and will enrich your life profoundly. Who knows, it may lead to a romantic relationship, a new business partnership, a newfound passion, or a larger sense of purpose you hadn’t envisioned.

Don’t just sit and complain about how lonely or bored you are. Cultivate your social life mindfully.

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I enjoy writing long-form SEO content for self-help and personal development blogs. I can also do simple graphics design and copywriting. I’m an author, coach, logician, introvert, and storyteller. I love simplicity.

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