There are times when it is difficult to talk to others, even those to whom you were once close. This can be painful, especially when you encounter old friends that you haven’t seen in a while. A part of you might desperately want to reconnect – but at the same time, you find that your anxiety makes that next to impossible. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome the things that are holding you back when your social anxiety is at its worst.
Benefits of Finding Old Friends
Reconnecting with old friends can have a number of benefits. On top of being able to catch up and see what your friends have been up to, the combined nostalgia and sense of connection that you receive from getting back together with a buddy can help fight loneliness and feelings of isolation. Because this is someone that you’ve known for quite some time, some of the awkwardness and other difficulties experienced during the early stages of friendship can be skipped. For those with social anxiety, reconnection can also provide you with additional people in your life that you already feel safe around.
Perhaps the easiest way to reconnect with old friends while dealing with social anxiety is to make contact online. You can start the conversation with a short, simple message such as “Hey, sorry to message you out of the blue but I was wondering how you were, so I decided to look you up.” Don’t worry about revealing too much information about yourself or trying to come up with conversation points just yet. The hardest part is often getting that first message out there, so keep it short and simple when you send it. If you have several old friends that you’d like to get in touch with, just start with one and then reach out to additional friends after.
Exploring Common Interests
When trying to come up with things to talk about, stick to common interests that aren’t likely to be points of contention. Even something as simple as “Hey, do you still like football?” can be a good icebreaker and keep the conversation going. Remember that this isn’t a stranger, it’s someone that you used to know fairly well; there’s a good chance that you still have at least a few common interests, and even if they aren’t active in those interests anymore they can still be a good jumping off point.
Taking It Slow
Don’t assume that because you’re getting in touch with someone from your past that you’ll have to immediately fall into those same roles that you had when you were younger. Chances are you both have new responsibilities and new interests compared to days gone by. Feel free to just chat occasionally and allow a budding friendship to develop slowly. If they want to get together and you don’t feel up to it, there’s no harm in delaying. You can always simply say that things have been hectic or busy lately but that you’d love to get together once things slow down a bit.
If your old friend is going to grow into being a real part of your new life, you’ll likely want to open up about your social anxiety at some point. This can be difficult, and you don’t have to rush into it if you aren’t comfortable with the idea. Just be honest with them and with yourself and let them know that you’re telling them because you value their friendship and don’t want them to feel like you’re ignoring them or pushing them away. It can be a difficult thing to reveal to others, but your friend will understand. They’ve known you for a long time, and they’ll appreciate you being open with them. It may even make your friendship stronger.
Have you ever looked up an old friend and gotten in touch? Is there anyone specific that you’d like to talk to again?