Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan
It’s like that dream where you’re in school, and you walk up to the desk to read aloud your project, and everyone’s laughing and pointing, and you look down to realise you’re in your underwear. Except, this is real life, and social anxiety is a thing!
You’re alone at a cocktail party where everyone is fabulous and laughing and know each other, and you’re standing by yourself, hugging your clutch, trying to not get in the waiter’s way. How do you deal with it? Like this.
1) You have your phone, right? Use your phone. What did the Wallflower do without a phone to scroll through? It bewilders the mind. Check Instagram, like a few Facebook statuses, or, hey, drum up some extra Twitter followers by live tweeting your whole evening. Pro tip: Turn to someone next to you and say, “Have you seen this video? It’s amazing!” and pull up the viral video of the week, so you guys can bond over it.
2) Not a phone person? Buy a Moleskine for this exact purpose. A Moleskine is pretty much the best notebook ever, small and elegantly designed, and easy to slip into your bag. Sit in a corner and take notes. Whenever someone comes up to you to ask what you’re writing, smile mysteriously. Pro tip: Write a short poem and hand it to the person next to you. Can’t write poetry? Make it a note instead saying something like, “I’m too shy to say hi, but I really like your shoes!”
3) Practice your photography skills. A fan of “street style” fashion photos? Here’s your chance to participate. Check out the best outfits there are and take pictures of them. Pro tip: It’s also a great way to meet new people, just say, “Ooh, I love what you’re wearing, can I take a photo of it?” and ask them for details to add to your caption.
4) Make friends with the bartender. There’s always a bartender at these things, and he’s always the most popular person. Go on up and chat to him—someone you wouldn’t normally talk to--- ask him how he got into the business and get him to make you very cool cocktails while you sit pretty on a barstool. Pro tip: Watch out for the person who can’t decide what to drink (there’s always one at every party) and recommend the one you’re drinking. Strike up a conversation over a shared love of tequila.
5) Eavesdrop. Many a time I’ve entertained myself just by listening in to other people’s conversations. I’ve come away with a wide variety of insights, from people’s thoughts on the new government to the best place to take your kids to swim over the summer. Just try and not make it too obvious what you’re doing, i.e. don’t laugh out loud at a joke they’ve made between themselves. Pro tip: If you’re dying to interject your own two cents, do it in a classy way. For example, “I couldn’t help but overhear that you’re looking for a new massage lady. Try mine. She’s amazing.” Hand over the number and smile at your new friends!
6) Experiment. See, no one here knows who you are, so you could be whoever you wanted to be. Whether it’s dropping a fake British accent, “Where are you from?” “Cornwall, darling,” or being That Girl who gets on the dance floor first, this is basically a free pass for all the things you’ve always wanted to do, but were too shy to try. Pro tip: Since you’re not totally you anyway, make it a point to go up to people and join their conversations. It’s a party! Everyone’s supposed to mingle!
7) Head to the 'Ladies'. Try standing in line for the ladies loo, it's always a good icebreaker, although you can’t sustain that forever. And if even that doesn't work, smoke. or preferably pretend to. Yes, smoking is a terrible habit and we should all kick it in the butt (no pun intended), but honestly? It’s still the best icebreaker there is. Nothing says bonding like huddling in the one smoking corner, sharing drags and lighters with random strangers who you can then strike up a conversation with.
Pro tip: No one notices how much you actually smoke of a single cigarette, so ask for a light, and stand around chatting while your cigarette harmlessly fades away.
Gif courtesy - Giphy.com
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