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That is the question. I'm talking about daily demeanor here.

I was miserable in high school...I had no friends and it took me over 4 years to get through. The main reason was that when I finally started to try to make friends, I was too eager and annoyed everyone in my path.

As I've recently started going to college, I've been often pushing myself, and I've loved the results. My grades are immaculate and I have a fairly large group of friends. (I've been having a moderate amount of dates, but that's another subject altogether.)

Have hit a snag recently, though, and it's with how to act in certain situations. For example, I do very well conversationally one-on-one and in small groups, but in larger groups I vary wildly, usually doing the worst in groups of complete strangers (I may have already posted about this). Because of this I find myself with almost nothing at all to say, and that really bugs me because I KNOW I'm an entertaining guy with a lot to say. I just get incredibly frustrated because I don't know what to say.

It goes further than just group awkwardness, but I'm just wondering how I should approach situations where I'm uncomfortable. I've been repressing almost all of my feelings on them in order to look like I have my act together, but that's backfiring now. Sadly, though, the reason I did so badly in high school was because I cared too damn much, and that really depresses and bothers people. I don't want to go down that path again.

No matter how much I fake it, though, I do care about social situations. I like myself, but if something is bothering me I just don't know how genuine is being too genuine...I don't want to look like an overemotional wreck with no backbone or sense of self. The same thing applies tenfold for dating...the last thing I want to appear as is a desperate douche whose entire self-worth rides on approval.

Any tips?
 

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i would find one or two people you think would be very understanding and just say something is bothering you. you dont need to share your problems with everyone, but it would be nice if you opened up to a couple close friends..

everyone has feelings.
 

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Maybe you're getting a form of stage fright with larger groups? It's like a comedian who can perform in front of his close friends, but when he's in front of a large audience he chokes. You're probably putting too much pressure on yourself to be entertaining so those people will like you, but it's backfiring. I would say to try and relax and don't worry about trying to entertain everyone. If you relax and pay attention to the topics, then your thoughts will come to you and you'll be able to think of stuff to say or have a response to peoples comments. With your emotional repression thing, I would say to talk about it with someone you can trust.
 

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I couldn't give you much advice that I have applied myself because I don't really put myself in scary situations. In fact, I usually avoid them. Having said that though, here is a thought that I've applied the few times I've been out in semi-uncomfortable situations with strangers: (it has helped me tremendously but of course, everyone is different)

I think it might help you to shift the focus in social situations from yourself to other people. This is especially useful with strangers. If I'm comprehending your story correctly, you want others' approval and like to please them, whether you show it or not. Maybe you ask yourself, "does this guy think I'm funny?" "do I fit in with this group?" "are my clothes appropriate?" Try shifting the questions in your head to be more about what YOU think about THEM instead of what they think about you. For instance, you can ask yourself, "that guy was pretty funny, did he get that joke from watching a TV sitcom?" "how long have these guys known each other?" "I wonder how much money this guy paid for his shirt," "why is he rubbing his head continuously...is he unsure of himself?" "Why is he looking down, is he reading something?" etc. etc. etc. In other words, observe the people around you and constantly ask yourself why they are saying what they're saying, why are they laughing, why, why etc.

Try to observe in an objective, not judgmental manner. After doing a little "research" of other people, you can start to ask questions out loud or make comments like, "I noticed you were talking to Mike about a chemistry problem, are you in the same class?" If you notice someone looking at their watch ask them, "Are you in a hurry to be somewhere?" or whatever.

As far as being genuine is concerned, I too tend to put up a facade. It really helped me to spend time with someone who was the opposite of me and constantly shared her feelings. The more time I spent with her, the more I started thinking about my real feelings and expressing them. Maybe it was because I thought she was a "cool" girl and I wanted to be just like her, lol. I think there are ways of expressing your beliefs without looking like an emotional wreak. It might be harder for guys though since they are traditionally supposed to be less expressive I think, I don't know.
 

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I have to keep up a facade with most people just to function semi-normally, but as others have mentioned, it can be very therapeutic to have a few good friends (or at least one) that you can be real with.

As alohomora mentioned, a great strategy (and one that I have used successfully) is to "interview" people. Take the focus and perceived scrutiny off of yourself by asking them questions about their lives and interests. Most people who don't have social anxiety LOVE to talk about themselves and their hobbies. This may only indirectly address group situations, however.

The only way I can deal with large groups is to try to split the group up by engaging one or two people that I know or that are closest to me [by spacial proximity]. If I do this successfully, I can usually overcome the anxiety trigger that is associated with large groups.
 
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