Being a better initiator

Woman looking at her phone confusedly

I love my friends, but I'm never the one to initiate the plans. I've been trying to think of some ways that could make being a better initiator easier for me…

There's usually a part of me that gets socially anxious before meeting someone, even if we're already good friends. I get nervous that it'll be super awkward, or they won't enjoy my company, or I'll have no way out for when I'm ready to say goodbye for the day. Yet if the other person's doing the asking, I more often than not jump right onto it and say yes with barely a second thought. Why is socializing so complicated!?

I want to make sure I'm still maintaining the relationships I value while being a student, though. Below are some of the things I've found that have helped me be the one to approach someone about spending time together. Hopefully they can help you, too!

1. Put on a time limit

Particularly when I'm wanting to get to know someone better, I find that having an end-point tends to make me feel less socially anxious about hanging out. I like to start out with bite-sized hangouts that let me get a feel of the person and what they're like. The thought of being stuck in an uncomfortable get-together can hold me back from reaching out at all, even when I genuinely want to become better friends with someone. It could be as simple as saying "I'm only free until 3:00 to hang out," or something similar!

2. Find a pre-set activity

This works perfectly in conjunction with the previous point! University has tonnes of workshops and events going on constantly through the academic year (I'm taking my friend to one next week!). Part of me not initiating something comes from me not wanting to be the one to plan the day's activities. I overthink way too much about what the other person would enjoy and what would be comfortable for both of us. I find initiating is so much easier when the pressure of planning is taken away and I can just invite a friend along to something that's already happening.

3. Plan it ahead of time

I have a to-do list everyday of things I'd like to finish before the day's end to stay on top of my studies. So, the combination of being an introvert and not being very spontaneous makes it very unlikely that I'll want to hang out with someone the same day of initiation, or even the next day. I personally need some time to 'psych myself up' before socializing. Planning it a few days in advance means that it becomes something I can plan around instead of try to make room for, and I can mentally prepare myself for the day!

As well as these tactics, I also try to remind myself that maintaining friendships is a two-way street. It's okay that I'm introverted, but it's also necessary to recognize when I start to wait for people to reach out to me instead of the other way around. Constantly waiting for others to do the work can make me feel really lonely sometimes, and so I need to be able to give myself the nudge that good relationships take time and effort from both ends to grow.

Tagged in What messes with your head, friends