Q: I’m a writer, and I went to a book party where there were many interesting writers, including a very cute, witty man. Problem is, I’m afraid to go talk to new people, especially cute, witty men, so I hung back and eventually left. Now I’m ruing yet another missed opportunity.
A: You apparently learned your social skills from a park ranger. Playing dead is a successful strategy when you’re being chased by certain types of bears. When you’re hoping to be chased by a man, you need to go over and say hello. But, you whimper, you’re scared. Yeah, okay. But, why would that be reason to avoid doing it? By making yourself do something you’re afraid of, you shrink your fears and probably feel better afterward, unless it’s something like walking off the ledge of a tall building.
Don’t worry if you aren’t a genius conversationalist. Just ask questions: “Are you a friend of the author’s?” “Is that soup on your shirt?” If somebody likes you, he’ll talk to you. If not, it’s a big world; go talk to somebody else. And don’t see every interaction as some statement about your worth. Some people will like you; some won’t. Unless you’re running for office, who cares? The more people you talk to, the bigger your life will be, and the less each interaction will matter in the grand scheme of you. Until then, remember, 90 percent of success is just showing up — and then not running back out to your car, powerlocking your doors, and speeding home.