Tag Archive | "T.H. Palmer"

No Social Butterfly Am I

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I’m No Social Butterfly

Learning to be social is an art that begins at an early age.   Social beings, like ants and lions, almost every human being craves a strong social network. Few of us wish to be perceived as social outcasts and quite frankly, it feels good to be liked by others.   As school children, we never want to be the person who sits alone at lunch or is the last one picked to participate in a team or on a communal class project.  School teaches us reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the fundamentals of computer technology.  We are even taught not to beat up our fellow students in order to make a point.   Our parents teach us the rudiments of social behavior, including the eternal pounding, “Say please and thank you!”  But when you think about it, no one truly teaches us how to be social, how to go beyond the bounds of mere cordiality to connect with others on a deeper level.

As someone who had to learn the art of social behavior, I took a page out of Christopher Columbus’ book when he’d stated, “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”  I needed Christopher’s very astute advice, you see, as I did not slip easily into those neat little niches that others did.   For instance, I’m not a man.  Guys are usually very adept at instigating conversations about sports; some men also like to be the life of the party by recounting ribald jokes to gain attention.  Okay, so I’m a woman, but I don’t have children.  So that leaves me out of all the interactions that go on in the “Mommy Club” and revolve around children’s eating habits or lack thereof, grades, tantrums, soccer leagues, ad naseum.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to fit in socially, at least, in situations where the group has more diverse interests.  Perhaps, if you are like me, some of my suggestions will help you emerge a bit more comfortably from your own cocoon and thus unfold your wings as a budding social butterfly.

My first recommendation is to state the obvious: in order to carry on an intelligent conversation, you must have something to talk about.  Therefore:

1.       Keep abreast of the news, including national and world events. Politics may be a hot-bed issue, but it does keep the conversation lively (to say the least).

2.       Reading a bestseller or two on the New York Times list will enable you to exchange your thoughts with others who may have read the same novels or works of non-fiction. If you prefer novels, mix things up every now and then and pick up an autobiography; broader reading interests will allow you to expand your social repertoire.

3.       If you do enjoy reading, join a book club.  Your local library may have one or more.

4.       As distasteful as this may be, inure yourself to watching a few popular TV shows.  The so-called “reality shows” are usually a safe bet, including The Apprentice, American Idol, and The Biggest Loser.   Adult series such as House, Grey’s Anatomy, and Big Love also have large followings.  The larger the following, the more people with whom you stand to make intelligent conversation (well, conversation anyway; considering what is on The Boob Tube, the concept of intelligence is relative).

5.       Current films will provide the same breeding ground as TV shows for conversation. 

6.       Enroll in a class at your community college and be sure that your choice demands interaction with the rest of the class.  For example, cooking, pottery making, marshal arts, quilting or knitting classes all make for conversation during the class itself.  Because courses of this nature require a common interest among the student body, they often lead to friendships outside the school.

In order to break out of your shell, you need to learn how to be strong.  Rejection is part of the process in learning to integrate with others, and it may take some time to find the right group of friends or even your significant other.

Some people can be very cruel if they feel that they are superior to you in acquired knowledge and/or the social graces.  Seemingly ignorant of their own flaws, they will do things to make you even more uncomfortable as you try to fit in.  Needles to say, you don’t need people like this, who laugh at your sincere attempts to be friendly.  But, as they are out there, do try to grow a tough skin when dealing with them.

In persevering, your attitude must remain positive.  Remember that you are as worthy of love and respect as much as the next person.  Keep a level head and remain confident in yourself.  Don’t let small failures get in the way of long-term happiness.  Hold your head up high, walk upright, and smile as if you have much to offer the world, which you do!

Above all, keep reaching out to people.  Even though it takes more effort for some, it will be worth it in the end when you discover a true friend.

To prove my point, and give you a bit more confidence as you go forth in search of your new social circle, I include a poem by T.H. Palmer.  In bolstering my own self-esteem, I have found this to be extremely helpful.

‘Tis a lesson you should heed,

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try, again.


Then your courage should appear,

For if you will persevere,

You will conquer, never fear!


Once or twice, though you should fail,

Try, try again.

If you would at last prevail,

Try, try again.


If we strive, ’tis no disgrace

Though we do not win the race.

What should you do in this case?

Try, try again.


If you find your task is hard,

Time will bring you your reward:

Try, try again.


All that other folks can do,

Why, with patience, should not you?

Only keep this rule in view:

Try, try again.

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