Shy men can have a rough time socially. The effects of social anxiety and shyness can be isolation, depression and a life lived in neutral. In an extrovert world, people are loud and confident (by nature). We’re supposed to chase women like a contact sport.
But if you’re not that kind of man, those around you may wonder why you’re not. They may think you’re gay or maybe just a nerd or a dude who still lives in his mother’s basement. And if you’re none of those things (not that there’s anything wrong with any of them), you may be forced further into your shell by the attitudes of people you know.
Co-workers may badger you about finding a girlfriend or make jokes about your awkwardness. They may try to fix you up with women you have nothing in common with, but who are conventionally attractive. And they probably bug you – a lot. That can be exhausting.
But the good news is that you can change. I was once exactly where you are now – anxious, shy and depressed about my lack of confidence. It cost me jobs, friends, potential mates and my self-respect. But one day, I got tired of feeling that way and resolved to change my fortunes.
Ultimately, it comes down to you. You need to be objective about who you are and what you bring to the party. That means learning to like yourself because when you like yourself, it’s more likely others will too. Let’s dig in, looking at some of the effects of social anxiety and shyness and their antidotes.
One of the guys?
You’ve probably got a group of friends you feel totally comfortable with. You feel accepted in their presence because they’ve taken the time to get to know you for who you really are. They don’t push you to do things you don’t want to do or demand that you puff yourself up to make yourself different.
But any shy guy who’s been to a sports event, a bar, fishing, or a guy’s get together knows that everyone is not like that. There are a lot of men out there who live to make themselves stand out by dumping on targets they identify as “weak” (shy and awkward).
With guys like that, there’s not much you can do except to put some daylight between you and them. The problem with that is that you’re also putting daylight between yourself and the rest of the guys in the group. It’s almost 100% certain that most guys will take the path of least resistance, siding with the swaggering douchebag who’s decided you’re the evening’s entertainment – because you’re not a swaggering douchebag!
You can either take the psychological punishment this jerk is doling out, or you can move. You can either cling to being “one of the guys” by accepting the bullying or you can hive yourself off from the group.
And if you can hive yourself off, guess who the real man is? That’s you.
One of the most important things a shy, socially anxious guy can learn is that being one of the boys isn’t always in their best interest. There are other people out there – nice people. There are men who don’t orbit a bully at the center of their group and women who don’t like guys who suck up to bullies – or the bullies themselves.
Refusing to be the butt of some egotistical douche’s “jokes” is the kind of hard “no” it takes to start living for your own needs and not the acceptance of men who are, frankly, toxic. They act that way because (wait for it) they’re not as confident as they want you to believe they are. They’re scared of being exposed. To cover up that fear, they generate as much sound and fury as possible.
Why do people like these douchebags?
Hang on a sec. Not everyone does. Women, for starters, like men who treat them like human beings and not accessories or appliances. The douche bags of this world attract the attention, primarily, of their female counterparts. And those are not the women you’re interested in.
As to the men who orbit these narcissistic, self-absorbed jerks, let’s just say they have an agenda. They’ve convinced themselves that being in the douchebag’s posse is good for their social lives. They believe that running in a pack of loud, obnoxious assholes gets them noticed.
Yeah. They get noticed alright. But it’s not the kind of attention they really want. And for sure it’s not the kind of attention you want.
If you’re shy, you have the good taste to know that you’re not the center of the known universe. You know you need to work on yourself. But there’s a balance between acknowledging your flaws and loathing yourself for them.
Everyone has flaws. Everyone has insecurities. Having these is like death and taxes – some of the things you can count on in life. But how you feel about yourself is how you overcome your insecurities and move yourself into a better way of living.
The value of being who you are
It takes courage to be who you are. But before you can do that, you need to know yourself. Knowing yourself is how you connect with others who are similar or who complement your personal mojo.
It’s important to mention here that “being who you are” doesn’t mean “being a slob.” If you’ve been neglecting your personal hygiene and presentation, you’re hiding. You’re hiding behind scruffiness to protect yourself from the outside world. And sure, it works. Nobody wants to hang out with someone who doesn’t take care of themselves, or dress decently.
Be honest. Are you getting haircuts often enough? Showering every day? Wearing clean clothes that look good on you? All these details matter because before people can know the real you, they get a picture and that picture triggers instantaneous judgment about the quality of your character.
Sad, but true.
So, go through your wardrobe with a critical eye. What’s in there that really makes you feel good when you wear it? What’s worn and grubby? Take a little time to identify clothing that fills you with confidence when you put it on. That’s the wardrobe you’re going to build on. Get a good haircut. Trim your nose hairs. Dude. Just do whatever you think needs doing and then look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I look pretty darned good!”
You’ll find that once you get your personal appearance together, your confidence will begin to grow and once your confidence grows, you’ll be much better positioned to get out there. When you stop undermining yourself with neglectful habits, you’ll become much more inclined to like yourself.
And there’s no question that liking and accepting who you are is attractive to other people.
You’re totally normal
When I was where you are now, I used to think I was a hopeless mutant. But what I know now is that it’s normal to be shy. The trick is overcoming it. I know that one little moment of awkwardness with other people could push me back into my shell for weeks, back in my shy days. These days, I let a lot more roll off me. What I learned is that it wasn’t all about me or my value as a human being. Sometimes, “awkward” just happens. Don’t let it get to you, because it’s as normal as getting up in the morning. Lots of men struggle with shyness and feeling awkward in social settings.
Just as you don’t click with everyone you meet, neither do other people. But it’s not the end of the world. Not everyone was meant to date you, be your friend or your boss. So, when things go sideways, you need to remember that and continue plowing ahead.
Flex your social muscle
You don’t need to walk up to the hottest woman in the room or crash a wedding. You need to build up. When you flex your social muscle it’s just like pumping up your biceps. You start small, with lighter weights and fewer reps, working your way up to the big stuff.
Flexing your social muscle might be as simple as saying, “Hi, how are you?” to the barista who makes your coffee in the morning. It might be giving someone your seat on the bus or train, making eye contact and smiling. These minor social interactions are items you should actively pursue on your journey to being more socially comfortable and adept.