September 24, 2013

Making New Friends (For Introverts!)

Hello everybody, I hope you're having a wonderful week as always. I have a super long post in store for you today, so I'm just gonna cut to the chase right away. There is a lot to say on this matter, but I'm writing this with the purpose of providing a starting place for making new friends. This post includes two main parts: The first will hopefully get you to think about how you interact with others and provide some inspiration; the second will have my best tips for breaking out of some of those shells that you may have. And without further ado, let's get started!

A little bit about myself: I don't know if you can tell from this blog or not, but I am actually a pretty introverted person. I mean, I don't get butterflies in my stomach when I think of social interaction, but I do find myself getting overwhelmed fairly quickly while in a group of more than six people. That being said, God did create us to be in the world to interact and enjoy each others' talents, expressions, and company. I think of intoversion and extroversion on a spectrum. I'd say that I'm in the middle, though closer to the introverted side of the scale since I recharge by spending time alone reading or writing. But being with people stirs up a different kind of energy, which is also good in its own way.

Anyhow, there are a lot of times when I feel my shyness getting the better of me, and this post is for anyone who finds his/herself freezing up in certain social situations, or having a hard time making friends. It's okay to be on the quiet or shy side, but it's no good if it gets in the way of you pushing your limit and being surrounded by people who may come to be some of your best friends!

In order to illustrate my point, here is a video by Matthew Hussey that I think you'll find to be interesting:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

For me, there are components that I would agree with and ones that I would disagree with.

I would agree that the biggest obstacle that is in your life is usually yourself. Your own perceptions of yourself can really limit your capabilities. For lack of better words, I'll reference David Dark's The Sacredness of Questioning Everything:
The question I'd like to bring to language, my own and everyone else's, is the question of reductionism. Reductionism reigns when the words we use to give account of people and events serve only to reduce, degrade, and devalue human beings... This is a perversity we employ--perhaps it employs us--when we reduce a person to a "just" ("So-and-so is just a...") or a "nothing but" ("You're nothing but a..."), as if we've gotten to the bottom of all they are and will ever be (page 121).
Let's try combine the thoughts expressed by Hussey and Dark to conclude that we should avoid labeling ourselves and other people in order to make new friends, to learn and discover from others. In my experience, the people who really have trouble making friends are labelers--they either put labels on themselves or the people around them.

I personally am more guilty of the former. Have you ever been in a quiet mood? Where there's nothing wrong, but you just didn't feel like talking and wanted to spend time by yourself and think? I get in those moods frequently I recharge by relaxing by myself with a cup of tea or writing, not by meeting and greeting. Yet, when I attributed my quietness to shyness, I stopped making the effort to reach out to others. Because, well, that's just what shy people avoid doing.

I think it's also fair to say that we're all guilty of doing the latter--putting a label on someone else before having met them--one time or another. "Oh, that person seems really stuck-up." Or "It seems like s/he likes sitting alone, so I'll just leave him/her be."

Can you see how these presumptions limit not only ourselves, but the other person too?

Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say that we should shed all labels, though. Adjectives, actions, and experiences make us who we are, and being aware of these help us grow.

Say you're a shy person. Do you want to keep being shy, or do you want to change that? Or say that you're angry person. Do you like being angry all the time, or do you want to change that?  Say you made a mistake in your life. Do you want to be burdened by that forever, or do you want to move on?

What I'm trying to say is: Let words describe you, not define you.

There are also "positive" or "goal" labels. What does a goal label look like? Well, I would like to be labeled as caring, compassionate, empathetic, hardworking, friendly, approachable. Aren't these characteristics that we want to hear when someone is describing us?

Anyway, I wanted to focus on introverts today, so I'll get back to that now. The whole point of the speal above is that you really need to want to get rid of that shyness before you can put yourself out there.

So think about all the things you can gain in life--love, peace, shelter, brotherhood--by challenging yourself to reach out. Then ask yourself if it really is worth being quiet.

With the reflection component of this post over, here are seven tips for getting started with becoming a more outgoing and friendly version of yourself! I hope you find these helpful--if you have any of your own ideas or some feedback, please let me know in the comments!

#1: Force it.
I used to be really shy, guys--practically afraid of talking to anyone I didn't know. If this gives you a proper illustration, I carried a book around with me every day during middle school so that I would have it as an excuse to avoid talking to people during snack break. So when I arrived in college 5 years later, meeting people initially still felt like ripping fingernails out. However, I just had to buckle myself down and approach others, throwing out a name and a smile. It feels really unnatural at first, but if you practice it every day, it starts becoming habit. Don't overcomplicate it. Swallow the anxiety that's churning in your stomach, step out, and ask someone, "Hey, how's your day?" Whether you're in an elevator, sitting in a cafe, or happen to see a person you barely recognize, that's all you really need to get a conversation going.

#2: Join a group activity.
It is so much easier to form connections with people when you already have something in common. So, instead of working out by yourself at home, go running on the track at the gym. Or if you enjoy reading like I do, you could join a book club. It would also be fun to try something new. My experiment was joining tae kwon do, and some of my most influential relationships formed during high school were from the people I met there. (I met my mentor and first boyfriend through the tae kwon do school.)

#3: Invite someone over.
It doesn't even really have to be anything formal like dinner, either. You could just invite someone over to watch some reruns of a TV show you and that other person enjoy. Making that one step usually causes the other person (or group of people) to recognize you more easily and thus forms a stronger connection.

#4: Put some time into your appearance.
I feel somewhat shallow when phrasing it like this, but it actually does pay off to look good. Let's face it: when you look good, you feel good--it's just natural instinct! That being said, there are many ways to improve your appearance. Working out, eating healthy, treating yourself at the mall by buying a new outfit, applying some makeup--all of these are ways to help you look your best and then gain confidence in yourself.

#5: Remember to have some down time.
Putting yourself out there takes a lot of energy and while fun can be pretty draining. I spend my down time in my room, writing, reading daily devotions, and prayer-journaling. Sometimes I do stretches or sit-ups too, and face massages are always a nice treat. Another option would be writing an email to a distant friend, which not only gives you an opportunity to reconnect with someone but reflect on all the things you've been doing. Take some time to recharge by yourself so that you'll be up at your 100% when it comes to meeting new people.

#6: Be informed, and be aware.
Keep up with the news, read blogs (and follow this one!), and listen to NPR every now and then. Also be conscious of the movements happening around you, and pay attention to the conversations you're in. The more you know, the more you'll have to say.

#7: Don't get discouraged.
Let's face it, not everyone is gonna like you. It sounds a little cliche, but haters are gonna hate. Also, you may at first feel like the effort is not worth it if you don't instantly feel a connection with another person that you tried approaching. This shouldn't get you down, though, because once you start meeting more and more people, you'll find the right niche that fits you perfectly, where friends will love you unconditionally. It is a trying process, but just keep up at it and you'll be forming connections and networking in no time!

For some reason, silver linings popped into my mind at this point. So here is one from
So there you have it guys! A nice, long post about making friends if you're an introvert. I hope you found this inspirational and got you fired up and ready to start meeting new people. One last bonus tip: It's only awkward if you make it awkward (you'll know what I'm talking about if you run into one of these situations...and that wasn't meant to sound dirty!).

Thank you for visiting, and please feel free to leave a comment or email me at! I write a post every Tuesday, so also remember to subscribe to my blog through Bloglovin' or follow me on Twitter so that you'll never miss an update. There are also options to follow Smiles No Matter on the right sidebar (email, RSS, and Google Friend Connect), so just choose what is most convenient for you. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I love blogging!

Take care,
-Riley XO

P.S. I saw the most adorable pug puppy on campus yesterday. She was absolutely adorable and was only two months old--I spent about five minutes petting and talking to her. So here's a quick picture to share some puppy adorableness with you!

Awwwwwww <3
Now whenever you have a bad day, just think about this warm, cuddly puppy. Smile on.


  1. loved the Idea.. and your tips are very inspiring.. easy to do.. though shy ppl may find it hard in the beginning ..

  2. Thank you for your feedback. I tried to add that video and encourage shy people to really reflect on it themselves. From personal experience, making new friends can be difficult, but it became worthwhile for me since I thought really hard about the benefits of challenging myself on the social level. Most of the work needs to come from inside, though. The second half of this post was mainly for people who have already decided that they want to make the change. I thought that the first half of this post would help delve more into self reflection, but I shall cover it more in future posts :)


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