How to cope with parties or any social events

The way I look at this, nobody has any reason to be fussed whether I’m there or not. Plus, I’m infinitely more interested in you than I am in me so I see social gatherings as a chance to meet new people and find out all about them. Since I don’t matter and you matter very much, I’m usually okay at parties and the like.


I do run out of fuel. I do have to go away sometimes. That’s a story for another day and the one for today is how it feels when you’re at the door, you’re reaching out for the handle, and you don’t know what’s on the other side. That’s hard:

We all have moments of awkwardness, but many people deal with it on a daily basis. Life for someone who’s socially awkward is a constant minefield of terror, self-recrimination and perceived faux pas. Going to parties is a nightmare because what if you don’t know anyone there? You feel as though you never know the “right” thing to say and when you do manage to open your mouth, you’re disjointed and stuttery, losing your train of thought before it departs the station. Worse, you may end up saying the absolutely worst possible thing you could… and now everybody’s just looking at you.

Paging Dr. NerdLove

Skim through this part 1 until you get the idea and are used to someone calling themselves Dr Nerdlove and then go on to properly read part 2. Hat tip to Lifehacker for spotting part 2.

Nervous habit

few minutes before you step into the situation that makes you nervous slow down. Walk slower to the meeting place. Move slower. Even stop for a minute if you like and stand still.

Then breathe through your nose. Take a little deeper breaths than you usually do. Make sure you breathe with your belly. Not with your chest (a common problem when people get stressed or nervous).

How to Overcome Nervousness: 7 Simple Habits – Henrik Edberg, Positivity Blog (5 November 2014)

Read the full piece.

Go ahead, worry some more

A friend used to write for Z Cars, back when it was done live, and he told me once that they used to place buckets in between the sets. For the actors to throw up in as they ran between scenes. I once had a pitch meeting where I was so scared I arrived early, opened the car door in the carpark and vomited.

I then went into the pitch meeting and did it again, more metaphorically.

So clearly vomit is key. But if you go through this, you also go through the circle of worrying why you worry, you wonder if you’re inadequate. And then if you’re ever a little bit okay about something, you worry why you aren’t worrying. You worry if you’re now less adequate still. And of course you wonder why you went into this stupid career or how you ever thought you could this stupid thing.

But that might be okay.

New research from East Asia provides a solution for this apparent paradox. It finds that, for certain people, worry can actually enhance creativity.

Call it the Woody Allen effect.

“The emotions that benefit creativity may not be the same for all individuals,” concludes a research team led by psychologist Angela Leung of Singapore Management University.

If worry is your default state, intensifying it slightly may actually prompt more flexible thinking.
Its study finds that, when the pressure is on, worry appears to be a motivating force for neurotic people. “Higher levels of intrinsic motivation in turn predict greater flexibility in idea generation,” the researchers add in the journal Emotion.

Leung and her colleagues describe three experiments that provide evidence for their thesis. One of them featured 274 Taiwanese university students, who began by filling out a questionnaire designed to measure intrinsic neuroticism. They were then asked to recall a happy, worrisome, or neutral experience.

Half were then instructed to memorize an eight-digit number, which they would later be asked to recall. This placed them in a stressful, high-cognitive-load state. The others memorized a two-digit number, a far easier task.

At that point, all were instructed to come up with “as many uses for a brick as possible.” After doing so, they recorded whether they found the experience interesting and fun.

The result: Under the heavy cognitive load, neurotic people displayed more flexible thinking after recalling worrisome events. This was in contrast to people low on the neuroticism scale, who displayed the most mental flexibility after recalling neutral events.

For Some, Worry Inspires Creativity – Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard: the Science of Society (26 June 2014)

I don’t like the Woody Allen peg, that feels like an excuse for a stock photo when they’ve got nothing else to use. But at least it gives me an excuse for an apposite quote from him:

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

My Speech to the Graduates – Woody Allen, included in Complete Prose (Amazon UK, Amazon US (originally written 1979)

via 99u