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David Baxter

Mar 26, 2004
How to Win Friends and Influence People When You are a Depressed Introvert
by Merely Me
Monday, September 22, 2008

So Andrew Carnegie I'm not. Actually I have no idea how to "win" friends nor do I know how to influence people. I am not without skills but these are just not my specialty. I admit that I was going for the catchy title. I can tell you, however, about my personal experiences with trying to meet new people for the purpose of making friends.

I once read a definition of introversion which said that introverts derive their energy from being alone. I totally agree with this conjecture. I do not mind being alone for this reason. After a bit of needed isolation then I am ready to go out into the world and be social. But it sure isn't easy for me. I remember missing many social events at work, much to the growing anger of my co-workers. I wasn't so socially anxious while at work because there you have a clearly defined role. At a social event or party, things mysteriously change. All of a sudden the focus upon being social makes me feel anxious. What do I talk about? What if I look like an idiot? What if I blurt out something embarrassing? And too, what are the rules which everyone seems to intuit but me?

Fed up with my lame excuses for opting out of work get togethers, one of my co-workers confronted me. I felt like a bug under a magnifying glass when I confessed that parties and large groups of people scare me. I got the look of confusion as I was surrounded by mainly extroverts who could not understand being fearful of something which they got so much enjoyment from. So I tried harder to get over my fear through facing it head on. I wish I could say that it helped but the more I did it, the more drained I felt. After years of this I finally accepted that I am just not a party person. Yet I still did want to overcome my fear.

There are times I can absolutely act outgoing and behave in a gregarious manner. But these times feel like me putting on a new over coat. It isn't the real me. I prefer intimacy and one to one interactions a hundred times more than I do chatting superficially within a group. I once heard a famous journalist say something akin to the fact that she felt shy people were selfish. That everyone feels afraid and unsure in social situations but that you have to stop dwelling inward about how you might appear. I have always disagreed with this notion because I don't think everyone feels the same anxiety and fear. As a matter of fact, I know they don't.

Several months ago I was feeling the need to get out and meet new people. I found a group on-line who advertised that they met in a nearby coffee shop. What attracted me to this particular group? Well it was a support group for the shy and socially anxious. It seemed perfect for me.

I have to tell you that although I knew the group members would be understanding of my shyness, I was still quite nervous. Meeting a group of new people is absolutely nerve wracking for me. I was already sweating buckets when I arrived. When I finally sat down to meet the others I got to hear some of their stories. Some had trouble holding down jobs. One person had been agoraphobic and had been self confined to their apartment for months. Still others talked of using anti-anxiety medication just so they could make it through the day. I began to quickly realize that social anxiety was on a huge spectrum and that my issues seemed small compared to what others were going through.

I tried to add to the conversation but I did feel awkward and stilted. I pictured myself with a bunch of extroverts and I imagined the scenario I am used to. When I am surrounded by extraverts I can ask a question and the extrovert will go on for days to answer it. They seldom notice that I haven't said anything about myself. Not so here with other social scaredy cats. I used my interviewer style and got very short answers and long pauses. The silence made me uneasy so I asked more questions at a quicker pace. I was like Barbara Walters on speed. Until someone quietly pointed out that I didn't answer any of my own questions. I blushed with embarrassment. It was absolutely true. This group of introverts had called me on my strategy to divert attention away from myself. It was one of those growth experiences where I realized I had been hiding myself in most group conversations.

The conversation became a little more easy going as the evening evolved. But then there just comes a point where I get weary of socializing. When I said my goodbyes I did feel a sense of pride. I had taken a risk, had met a group of total strangers, and held my own in trying to make conversation. And it is never too late to learn new things about yourself. What I am hoping for is not to become some party going socialite but that I will learn to not be so anxious over social situations. I have a long way to go but it is a start.
Feb 4, 2009
this sounds so mch like me i have been nrsg 26 years in the same hospital 20 yrs on the same unit and have not once gone to a social event christmas or anything else i am great on the floor as i know what my role is educator nurse etc but i cannot go out socially anxiety is just not my cup of tea
i am being asked to go to 25 yr ceremony to receive gift and pin etc but i know i won't go they can mail me my pin i get no enjoyment having people around me. strange but when im nursing i am helping people so i am comfortable but out of this enviroment old messages come through i feel like i am nobody worthless and out right stupid know one would ever know this because on the floor i whistle sing bring joy to my pt a sense of wellness
no one believes i cant be in a crowd but i enjoy being alone because there isno one judging me or looking at me im glad i am not the only one that enjoys solitude


Feb 22, 2009
I feel like I'm 80 on the inside (28)....I have physical energy and work out and stay active, but mentally I have no energy for socializing. I have mental energy for understanding investments, but socializing, nope. It's like such a struggle for me to even want to talk. I do in deed have social skills and can handle myself if I am in a defined role (i.e., dealing with law enforcement, bosses, bank people etc...)

I've started realizing that I'm introvert. I've read that a lot of people don't want to see any sort of treatment for introversion. However at what point can treatment be sought?

As I've stated before I do have social skills; but its exasperating to feel that every time I hang out with some one my "mental gas tank" is emptying quickly. It is also difficult to enjoy the interaction. I used to fight these situations when I was in high school. Now I just avoid them. I don't want to. I recognize being an introvert has some benefits but lets face the fact; we (introverted people) have a hard time showing enthusiasm and its very hard to access our sense of humor

Aside from therapy what types of medication treatment are available for introverted people

Thank you for all feed back in advance and I apologize if any of this post sounded kind of "harsh". I didn't intend for that to be the case.


May 30, 2009
Hi Ya:

I joined recently & just saw this thread, I too am very uncomfortable in social situations. When I was working I avoided all Christmas parties and as much meetings as I could. Over the past 2 1/2 years of my emotional nightmare my self-consciousness has gotten so much worse, to the point when I am out for a walk on my own and if cars are passing by I just feel like running away.

I feel like I am less of a person because of my emotional issues and the fact I can't work because of them. It takes me ages to get out the door because I can't find the right thing to wear, what makes this worse is I have gained 10 pounds in the last year. It seems like a vicious circle, depressed because of being depressed, angry because of being self-conscious.

I just feel as if I'm going to be like this for the rest of my days, the patterns are so ingrained.


Forum Supporter
Aug 5, 2004
From a blog for introverts:

Leave the house: New friends are unlikely to come knockin' at your door; you must get out and among people fairly often. Accept invitations--sometimes even when you'd rather not. If you're shy, hanging out with someone who is not shy can help. Researchers in Japan call that person a "surrogate" and found that after seven months, shy students entering a university who used a surrogate had as many friends as not-shy students So instead of going to a party alone, recruit an outgoing friend to join you. If you need to cling a little, that's OK. Sooner or later you're bound to recognize a kindred introvert spirit with whom you can sit and talk in that non chit-chatty way we love.

Stick your neck out: Meet someone you want as a friend? Be a little (but just a little) pushy. Make contact, extend invitations. What feels pushy to you might just seem friendly to others. As introverts, our sensitivity can work for us or against us. Don't be so sensitive that you are afraid to take a chance; be sensitive enough to recognize if and when it's time to give up.

Accept some awkwardness: Like first dates, the early stages of friendship can be awkward and self-conscious. This is not a reflection on you, the other person, or the potential for friendship. It's just the way it is. One way to mitigate this is to do things together other than just meeting for a meal. Go to a museum, a movie, an art festival--anything so that you aren't just sitting there gazing into each others' eyes. Also, with other things to talk about, you won't be tempted to overshare personal stuff and overwhelm the other person. (Have you ever done that? I have.)

First, Leave the House: Strategies for Making New Friends | Psychology Today
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