If you asked a thousand guys about their self-confidence and how they rate their social skills, you would find a nice, even bell curve. This curve would show answers at either extreme, both hyper-confident and strict introverts. Mostly though, you’d find people in the middle.
Most guys describe themselves as having average social skills. They are comfortable having a conversation but don’t claim to have much “game.” For some reason, this is unlike what every movie or TV show tells you about the state of meeting people in your 20’s. According to TV, we are either neckbeards or James Bond. In reality, it only takes a cursory examination of your own friends and acquaintances to see what people are really like. You have the one friend who can talk to anyone, any time about anything. You also have those friends who refuse to go out to a bar, club or anything really that isn’t sitting at home or the local haunts. If neither of these options sounds like you, congratulations, you’re one of the guys in the middle. There are more of us than them yet we are the most under represented. Here are 5 thoughts, ideas and pieces of advice for the socially average 20 something guy:
1. If you can tweet it, you can say it
Either to her, or to your friends. Don’t be that guy who is only funny or honest or engaging online. I believe in Twitter, I LOVE Twitter, but it can’t be the only place to express yourself. People appreciate honesty and heartfelt conversation. Nothing is more attractive than a dude who is real in every aspect of his life. Remember, you’ve already put yourself out there. You’ve tied your name to your thoughts and expressions. Now you just have to say them out loud. Trust me, someone’s genuine response and engagement in you and what you’re all about feels way better than a star or a like can. Take the leap.
2. Learn a lot about a lot, not just a lot about a little
Most people have interests and fields of expertise. Whether it’s what they study in school or what they do for work or how they spend their weekend days, everyone has their own hobbies. I could talk about Genre TV all day, for example. I live tweet every episode of Arrow. But what if my bro’s new co-worker is really into Continuously Variable Transmissions (tragic) or your sister’s boyfriend’s cousin is really into the NBA? What if (god forbid) someone finally asks you how you really feel about Justin Bieber’s retirement. It is crucial to remember the wide, wide variety of things going on in the world and how most people you meet have 30 things they are into at any given time. You have to be well rounded is what I’m saying. Just because I could make a strong case for why Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity Smoak is the best “Tech Geek” character on television, doesn’t mean I can stop there. Consume all the information you can, in a meaningful way. You never know what someone will ask you.
3. Relax, no one expects you to be Fred Astaire
They just expect you to try. You’ve already come out and started to have a good time. The music is all right and the drinks aren’t too expensive. Your friends want to move towards the dance floor and your one buddy is way too excited for the Cupid’s Shuffle. Who cares? Enjoy yourself. There is no greater turn off in a person than someone who is too cool for school. If you planned on not participating in any way, you should have stayed home. Either you can dance or you can’t. Most of us can’t. Many people can’t sing either but that’s what Karaoke is all about! Relationships, both intimate and casual, are all about back and forth. You have to put yourself out there to get something back. No one is asking you to try out for America’s Best Dance Crew. We just want you to crack a smile and bust a move.
4. Nothing’s better than the real thing
You’re a regular guy and people like you. You may not have been the valedictorian, prom king or campus hotshot but you’ve got friends in many places, people with whom you share stories, pasts and loyalty. Obviously, it’s easy to be real with them. They know you and you don’t have to try to be anything different. Consider the cultural fascination with “fake-ass bitches” or “wannabe dudes” or “posers.” We are all super focused on calling out spurious behavior. Remember how much you dislike someone who is trying too hard and how easily that was or could be you. The key is to be you. Insecurity is the final barrier separating you from a stress free social life. Don’t believe me? Remember back to when you were 15, and how you could do it all over again you would tell that guy to just ask her out, it won’t matter or how just trying your best was enough. How about 18 year old you? The guy who was so scared to pull the trigger on moving away for college or buying your first car. You wouldn’t be like that now would you? What’s the difference today? If you’re 23, 25, 28 you’re in the same place. Just take your own advice and be yourself. People will appreciate you for you long before they ever appreciate something force yourself to be.
5. You’re not even remotely alone
Remember the poll from the beginning? You don’t have to ask a thousand people. Ask ten. Ask the first ten guys you know and see what they say. Most of us are in the middle. It doesn’t seem like it, I know. I understand how difficult it can be to remember this when you seem like the only guy at the bar who is looking around at other people like you only half-belong. It seems like you’re just not getting what every guy around you seems to know. Trust me. It can be tempting to make excuses and boil your life down to a pedantic, bullshit divisions like alpha vs. beta or wolf vs. sheep. We are not sheep. Neither are girls. They are not targets to be had and you are not a hunter adding pelts to your collection. 99% of people are struggling through the same doubt and introspection as you. This is the most important piece of advice here. Relax, try and remember the fact that if you approach someone, take a chance and put yourself out there, and get rejected, it is their loss. Not yours. No one likes a poser anyway.