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3 tips to feel less awkward in social situations (the teen edition)

3 tips to feel less awkward in social situations (the teen edition)

How’s this for awkward: I had to move schools in year 10.

Kindergarten was the last time I had gone to a new place without knowing a single soul. Let me tell you, it was a lot easier to make friends when I was five.

Before you read on you should know that I am a very introverted person. I am extremely quiet when you first meet me and holding up a conversation is not one of my specialties. This made it hard for me to talk to people at school and I can imagine to some others it might have come across as rude. Basically, I am the master of being awkward – in any social situation.

Feel less awkward with these tips for social situations

Anyway, there I was starting at the new high school. And after a week without having made any friends, I knew I had to change something. These three things really helped me feel less awkward and I reckon they would do the same for anyone. None of them are rocket-science, which makes them achievable and actionable. I hope they work for you too!

Also try: 11 fantastic ways for teens to feel awesome

1. Do things because they make you happy

We can not control the outcomes of situations, so why do we spend so much time stressing about it? We make decisions constantly whether it’s what we’re going to eat for breakfast or what we are going to do after school. Behavioural analysis shows that we make these decisions based on one of two aspects.

The first being the action makes us happy. For example, I could choose to eat cornflakes for breakfast because I like the taste of them, or I could choose to take a gap year before uni because it is something I’ve always wanted to do.

The second aspect we base a decision on is we desire the predicted outcome. Using the same example as before, I could eat a piece of toast because I want to lose weight. I could think this action will lead me to that outcome. Perhaps I could decide to study law straight out of school because I want to make lots of money and I think this choice will lead me to that outcome.

During that time at school, I resolved to do everything because the action makes me happy. Not because I wanted to appear cool or make friends or seem like a more together person.

Because I put such a conscious focus on it, I realised that too often I based my actions and decisions on a desired outcome even if it didn’t make me happy. Now I choose what makes me happy and try not to worry what others are think about that.

Be happy not awkward

2. Don’t overthink things

You’re probably sarcastically thinking OMG I hadn’t thought of that?! I don’t blame you. That’s what I thought when I first heard it, but hear me out.

I’m sure we’ve all had moments when our friends have come up to us complaining about something being so awkward and we think to ourselves that wasn’t so bad, surely?

We only feel awkward when we are overthinking something while in the company of people. So to not feel awkward all we have to do is separate overthinking the situation.

How do we stop ourselves from overthinking something?

Well, this tip goes hand in hand with tip 3. What I find is that it works by doing or saying the first thing that comes into my head with confidence. If I know I’m going to be in an awkward situation, I’ll finish all my overthinking when I’m at home. I will decide on what to do or say and go in feeling prepared and so much less awkward.

Work on your confidence to feel less awkward

3. Schedule a worry time

In order to do this properly, pick a time (during daylight hours, not at night!) and stick with that time for at least a week. Now every time you think of something to overthink or worry about, put it aside and say to yourself I’ll come back to this at our appointment at 4:30.

Not only does this leave most of your day free from worry but by the time you get to your 4:30 ‘appointment’ you’ll find that most of the things you were going to worry about you’ve forgotten. You’ll find that these things are so small and unimportant, you just couldn’t see that in the moment.

More tips to feel less awkward from the experts

The psychologists at CBT Psychology also recommend the following:

  1. Remember you are not alone
  2. Try breathing exercises like box breathing
  3. Don’t avoid a situation just because it makes you feel awkward
  4. Be your own biggest cheerleader and don’t dwell on negative talk
  5. Sit with discomfort – the only real way to feel less awkward is to allow yourself to be awkward in the first place
  6. Keep trying – you’ll get better and better at social situations the more you get into them
  7. Find a support group for teens with social anxiety

Feature image by Ivan Aleksic; awkward couple by cottonbro studio; happy girl by Tim Mossholder; confidence by Angel Balashev