I may be generalising here, and this certainly doesn’t apply to everyone. However, has anyone else noticed that many creative people tend towards social awkwardness?
Honestly, I believe this is no coincidence. For a start, we creative types just don’t think the same as everybody else. I remember a bemused classmate telling me, while I was spouting one of my particularly weird literary theories in English class, “you don’t just think outside the box, you think outside the room that the box is in.”
This inherent feeling of not belonging can be a fantastic thing. If creative people thought in a “mainstream” kinda way, they wouldn’t be able to come up with the wonderful, interesting and often incredible things that other people enjoy so much. But when it comes to socialising, it can be a bit of a burden. I’m sure most creative, socially uncomfortable people have felt, at one time or another, that they would really love to just fit in for once! So if you’re someone who starts to squirm in social situations, here is a little guide to getting on in “the real world” (whatever that is).
Just because you shine creatively doesn’t mean you want to be the life and soul…
Find your people
No, that doesn’t mean that you only need to hang around with other creative types (although I would strongly advise hanging out with other creatives anyway – it’s good for the soul). It means you need to hang out with people who accept you for who you are and love you for being different.
This may take time socially and even longer professionally. It may be particularly hard if you’re not self employed, but it comes with time and experience. For example, don’t apply for jobs with a very corporate culture, look out for how people behave at interview stage and consider whether or not your amazing creative talents will be appreciated in your workplace.
Give yourself loads and loads of space
Creative types need time to themselves. Time to be creative, time to blow off steam and time to unwind from the social pressures of the day. Only then can you be on top form.
Time to yourself actually helps you to become more comfortable with your own company, which in turn makes you more at peace with who you are as a person. This can only help you in social situations!
Solitude is sacred
If you’re shy, be shy. I know how it feels to want to show people how odd you are right away (just get it over with already) or to feel really weird about long silences or non-responsive conversational partners. You don’t need to fill the silences – if other people don’t bother, you don’t have to either. There’s nothing worse than being put on the social back foot and rambling on because you feel uncomfortable with it.
Think of it as an exercise in creativity
Bring a camera, a notebook or a sketchbook if you feel nervous. These social crutches have really helped me when I’ve felt anxious in the past. If you’re a writer, jot down things or conversations you might want to use in a story one day. If you’re an artist, sketch people (it’s a pretty cool ice breaker, just be generous with your interpretations!). Be who you are in the social setting and be OK with it.
Find interesting, creative moments while you’re out and about
Don’t over-analyse things
Don’t torture yourself after every meet up, party or social occasion by thinking over everything you said to everyone. Creative people tend to be hyper aware of other people’s reactions to them, and that can really induce social anxiety. Go home, watch some TV or read a book and don’t spare the day another thought.
Don’t force yourself to be a social animal if that’s not who you are. Socialise on your own terms and when you feel up to it. I spend a lot of time at home and I enjoy life better that way. That means that when I do go out, I really mean it and have a much better time!
Don’t try to blend in – because you’ve been given the gift of being incredibly special, and people who are worth it will see that.
Do you feel awkward in social situations? Do you think it’s linked to creativity? I’d love to read your thoughts! Leave us a comment below.