How to Conquer a Room If You Have Social Anxiety

Tips to make social situations slightly more bearable

You know that feeling. Heart racing, palms sweating; it’s the moment before you have to walk into a room full of people. “What if no one talks to me?” “What if I say something stupid?” “What if I go to the bathroom and spend the rest of the night with my dress tucked into my underwear!?” If you’re the person asking yourself all these anxiety-producing questions before social events, this listicle’s for you. Here are some helpful tips to conquer a room, even when you’re like really really really dreading it.

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1. Set a time limit.

We can survive anything for ten minutes, right? Well, not anything, but you get what I mean. So, promise yourself that if you’re having a miserable time, you only have to stay for 30 minutes. That’s only three ten minutes. Chances are, you’ll end up having fun, but if not, you have a way out and will be proud of yourself that you at least tried. If you end up ditching after 30 minutes, no beating up on yourself! Celebrate that you tried and stuck to the 30-minute promise you made to yourself.

2. Ask someone to go with you.

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Walking in with someone to a big party or event eases that hardest part of a social situation majorly. This doesn’t mean you have to be glued to this person the whole time, but it’s a great way to ease into an unknown social situation.

How to Conquer a Room If You Have Social Anxiety

3. Location, location, location.

And if you can’t find someone to go with, remember location, location, location. The book Captive: The Science of Succeeding With People has a revolutionary idea about location. Stand in the right places at social events, and it will be so much easier for you to succeed. The book suggests hanging by the food and drinks or the hostess–both great places to start conversations with newly arrived guests who haven’t found someone to talk to yet.

4. Have some questions ready.

If you’re not super confident in your communication and witty banter skills yet, don’t sweat it. Take baby steps. This time, rely a little more heavily on asking good questions and listening. Check this out for some ideas on great questions to ask so you don’t halt the conversation.

How to Conquer a Room If You Have Social Anxiety

5. Reality check. 

What’s the reality here? Have you ever been in a social situation that went so horribly wrong you never recovered? Probably not. Percentage wise, you have a very low probability that your worst case scenario will play out. Remember, 99% of the things you imagine and create in your head never actually happen. Thank god for that!

6. Stand alone.

This is really about facing your biggest fear. We’re all terrified that in mingling situations we’ll end up the person with no one talking to us, alone in the corner. The fear takes over us, and we lose sight of the reality. The truth is, this totally could happen. And guess what!? You won’t die! So challenge yourself. If you find you’re alone with no one to talk to, just be. Accept it, and enjoy it. People watch for a moment. I bet if you stay off your phone, someone will approach you and start up a conversation. And if not? Hey, you’re totally cool just people watching.

How to Conquer a Room If You Have Social Anxiety

7. Remember other people are definitely feeling the same way.

Let’s share the fear a little bit. I guarantee you at least a third of the people in the room you’re in are feeling the exact same way. Doesn’t this ease the pain a little bit? In fact, maybe try to ease someone else’s discomfort instead of your own. Find someone who looks a little lost, and introduce yourself.

PS: If your anxiety is debilitating or unmanageable, seek help, whether it’s from your parents, a school counselor, and therapist.

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