Where to meet people to develop a social circle?
Thanks to my IC, I have come to realize that I have a paralyzing social anxiety.
I was able to avoid being aware of it by being moderately successful in my jobs. As long as people seemed willing to interact with me at work, I could successfully ignore the fact that I had no interactions outside of work, other than my spouse.
My spouse has been in full support - she's a cave-dweller and actively prefers home to elsewhere, and absence of visitors. In 16 years, we have never been to a concert, even though I play in bands and produce them, we have only watched movies on our own TV, and so on.
IC has certainly provided a step-by-step procedure: 1) Select a purpose for being there. Such as "my purpose is to spread joy to at least one person", such as by complementing him on his skills at something or style of attire.
2) Get out there
3) Vow to myself to conduct at least one interaction with someone I don't know
4) If need be, go home right then and there
5) Keep doing this until I'm comfortable doing two interactions...and so on.
The struggle I have is "get out there". I don't do bars - I literally cannot hear a conversation in a bar. So, where does one go to simply find people milling about? IC suggested Meetup...I thought it would be an OK idea, but I have to say that the Meetups I found within 25 miles of me seemed to be focused on board or other games...and I simply don't do games....never figured out strategy...or they're about physical prowess.
Guess I need to explain that one...I have a mild visual impairment that prevents me from succeeding at any form of athletic endeavor that requires judgment based on fast action or action close to my face. Therefore, I can't hit a baseball, I suck at the net in volleyball, etc. And...I grew up in a very small neighborhood where all other boys were jocks...and they had no interest in me. I suppose I feel some form of rejection, but I think more importantly - I never learned to socialize as a child. My parents were loners, so I never saw health adult socializing either.
In college, I was surrounded by like-minded learners, typically in the same classes, and socializing seemed as if it was literally thrown in my face. And college would be the only period in my life when I had more than a single friend at a time.
After college, I was again, without a social outlet. Met a girl at work, we hooked up for ten years - just with each other, and still no social life. The last few years we were together, I finally had a bit of a social life, this time with colleagues from work - we were all displaced from home, working in a highly unique technology and all about the same age. That industry died, my ex and I split..and...there I was again.
Drifted about without connection, met a girl at work, we got married.
And now I am realizing that I still have no social life, and because of that, I pin WAY too much on the marriage - I expect my wife to be the entirety of my social connections and it's taking a toll!
So, I need to do this. I have mastered emotions in other areas of my life, so I think I can handle that aspect. I just don't know the mechanics of where it is that you go to put you in the presence of others...shopping? Seems a difficult place...your goal is get in, get out, take your stuff home. It's not a social experience, IMO.
BTW, because of the sports thing as a kid, I have realized that the WORST place for me is any place where I'm expected to physically perform, such as a dance class...tried that once and wow, was I sensitive to comments from others. I need something a bit gentler. I actually tried to get myself to a Yoga class yesterday and incredibly, found my throat tightening and my gut sinking and realized I was experiencing anxiety - because the instructor had said "it'll be a small class, only 5 people", meaning I could not hide in a corner, trying the movements/whatever until I felt I would not embarrass myself.
So, if possible, something that doesn't involve physical...positioning, I suppose. I run and bicycle OK, just with little speed or endurance.
Look forward to the suggestions.
Dusty Crusty Dawg
There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business. Whose business are you in? -Byron Katie