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Having no social life is probably one of the most isolating experiences you can have.
When you don't have any friends, it's easy to feel like you're missing out on something—like you're not getting to experience the fullness of life.
It can be frustrating and depressing, especially when everyone around you is going on trips with friends and having adventures, at least according to social media posts.
To understand what it means to have no social life, it helps to know what a social life looks like.
A social life is about making connections with people in your community, who share some of your interests or values.
You spend time with them, either alone or in groups, and talk about things that are important to both of you. You may also spend time doing things together (playing games, going for walks, visiting places, etc.).
When someone has no social life at all (or not enough), they don't get this kind of connection with other people.
They might go through periods where they don't see anyone at all—even family members—for weeks on end.
This is because they lack any kind of meaningful relationship with others: they aren't connected with anyone who cares about them or wants to spend time with them, or so it seems.
The feelings associated with having no social life are often very painful: loneliness, depression, a sense of disconnect, isolation, jealousy, and even self-loathing.
In this post, you will learn, as I am learning, what to do if you have no social life.
But first, there are distinct pluses associated with disconnecting from the world.
Table of Contents
The Benefits of Having no Social Life
It's counterintuitive to think that having no social life might offer advantages. After all, we're told that having friends is one of the keys to happiness ... and it is.
But having no social life has inherent benefits, too. Here is a small list of benefits, just offered as food for thought:
1. You'll have more time to focus on your goals.
2. You can spend more time with yourself, which can provide ample time for greater self-awareness and self- compassion.
3. You'll be able to save money because you won't have to go out as often or buy new clothes/accessories.
4. You're not distracted by other people and their drama so you can focus exclusively on your wants and needs.
5. When you do feel lonely and long for company, you can always go online and find it there.
I'm going to speak about socializing from an introvert's perspective as I am one.
It's no secret that introverts can be a little bit of a mystery to extroverts. We're not necessarily shy, but we do need time alone to recharge our batteries, and we don't always enjoy the same kinds of things that extroverts do.
But there's one thing that introverts love to do: spend time with ourselves! And there are some pretty great benefits to this kind of lifestyle.
These are my 3 most coveted benefits about "alone time:"
a. Introverts get to focus on personal goals and desires without any outside distraction.
b. Introverts have more time for self-improvement (growing as a person) because we're not spending all our time enmeshed with other people's problems.
3. Introverts have more freedom than most people because we don't have to worry about keeping up with anyone else's schedule or expectations—or even having expectations placed on us by others.
But even as an introvert who has been accused of being "anti-social," I still long for greater and more consistent connections with others.
I also want to help others navigate their challenges.
So, I want to expand my non-existent social life (other than my wonderful wife and kids), and if you're reading this post, you're likely feeling the same way.
But before we can change our no social life status, we have to better identify the reasons we're in a boat sailing solo so much of the time.
Why We Have no Social Life
“Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you're making.” ― C.S. Lewis
The most common reasons people fail to connect with others and have no social life are:
1. They believe that they can't find other people who share their interests, values, and beliefs.
2. They don't know how to make friends or start conversations with strangers.
3. They feel like they don't have anything in common with others or anything worthwhile to contribute to conversations, which makes them feel awkward about joining conversations, even "small talk."
4. They feel like they are too old, too young, too introverted, or lack some other necessary attribute to meet new people.
5. They are too busy with school, work, or home-related responsibilities to engage with others. (Let's throw in the Covid pandemic here as another reason not to socialize.)
We can tie this list together with the following observations:
We're insecure about ourselves and our place in the world (which is not surprising, given this is a fairly common human condition), so we're hyper-aware of social cues and quick to draw conclusions about what they mean.
This anxiety tends to create a pretty vicious cycle—the more we're afraid of being judged by others, the more critical we become of them, and the deeper our self-doubt becomes.
This can easily lead to social anxiety where we're afraid and immobilized to meet people.
Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that manifests in the fear of social interactions. The person experiences extreme discomfort and a sense of self-consciousness in normal, everyday social situations.
Many people with this disorder become extremely anxious at the thought of being watched, judged, or evaluated by others.
Social anxiety can manifest itself in many ways.
Some people are afraid of being embarrassed or looking foolish, while others fear being rejected, criticized, or ridiculed.
Still others have a more general phobia about social interactions.
For some with social anxiety disorder, their fears are so intense that they avoid all types of social interaction altogether.
For others with milder forms of this disorder, avoiding specific situations may be enough to function with less stress.
Unfortunately, the avoidance will only make it harder for those afflicted to learn how to manage their fears and will typically lead to further isolation from others.
Lack of self-confidence with its possible concomitant social anxiety is a main cause for lack of a social life.
But here is another: we hold people up to impossibly high standards, so when other people fail to measure up to those standards, we feel justified in judging them harshly and wishing they'd just disappear.
Some individuals think that having a social life with undeserving others is just not worth the time and effort.
Socializing Begins with You - Time to Work on Yourself
“Our self-esteem – be it low or high – has its influence on our thoughts, relationships, profession, and social life. When it is channeled in the right direction, you will find enough confidence to move out of your comfort zone and explore new possibilities.” ― Dr Prem Jagyasi
If you lack confidence in your social skills and fear others' judgements, it may be time to work on yourself. In order to have a better social life, you need to be confident and comfortable with the way you look and act. The following steps will help you achieve that:
- Start a journal or blog where you can express yourself freely.
Include topics such as your interests, goals, achievements, etc. This will help you see yourself from a third-person perspective and will reveal positive sides of yourself that you may not have noticed before.
- Accept yourself for who you are.
You need to accept yourself for who you are, with all your flaws and imperfections. Once you do that, you will be able to move forward in life and not let people's negative opinions about you hold you back from doing what you want to do.
In particular, do not let anxiety and depression stop you from reaching out for companionship.
It is common for people with anxiety and depression to withdraw from their social lives. This can be a result of feeling that they are not worthy of friendship, or others are unworthy of their companionship.
Admittedly, anxiety and depression are serious conditions that can have a profound impact on your social life. When you experience unsettling emotions, it's easy to isolate yourself and withdraw from others.
You may feel like you don't have any energy to go out or do things with your friends. You might feel guilty about the fact that you don't want to be around people; or you might feel like other people are judging you for not wanting to go out.
Don't let these feelings stop you from reaching out for friendship. Even if you only have a little energy, muster it up so that you can extend your social circle.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
Set realistic goals for yourself and make sure they are things that can be achieved with the right amount of effort. If your goal is something that is unrealistic or too difficult to achieve, it can damage your self-esteem.
- Have a healthy body image.
Having a healthy body image is very important because it helps us feel good about ourselves and feel confident when we go out into public places like school or work. Having a positive body image means being satisfied with the way you look, refusing to compare yourself negatively against other people in terms of appearance.
- Stop comparing yourself in all ways with others.
When you lack confidence, it's easy to become trapped in a cycle of self-doubt and negativity. You perceive that you're surrounded by people who are more outgoing than you, more confident than you and just generally cooler than you.
And when you look at yourself, all you see is how different and flawed you are -- unworthy of romance or friendship.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it puts the focus on what's going on inside your head instead of what's actually happening in front of you.
You miss out on opportunities for friendship because instead of being open to any possibility that may arise, your mind is constantly busy conjuring up reasons why you don't measure up, with the self-fulfilling prophecy that things won't work out.
- Stop making excuses.
If you're not having a social life, there are probably many reasons why, but that doesn't mean they're valid reasons.
If you tell yourself that you don't have any friends because everyone else has more money than you, or because you're unattractive or because you're too awkward -- well, those may be true statements (in your mind) but they're not valid excuses.
Focus on the goal of forging friendships instead of embracing self-perceived barriers and limitations.
- Refuse to let life circumstances get in the way of building community.
Life is full of ups and downs.
When you're dealing with a tough time, it can be tempting to limit your social life—to not go out with friends, or to skip a party because you're feeling too stressed.
But the truth is that you need to expand your social circle, not limit it, when you're confronted with adverse circumstances.
Connecting with other people helps us feel less alone and more connected, which has been shown to help reduce stress levels.
It also gives us a chance to talk about what's going on in our lives, which helps us process our emotions.
It's important to remember that people are always going through their own challenges, too—and they may have some great advice for you!
- Stop worrying about the "What ifs."
Throw in a general fear of the unknown and this contributes to the lack of motivation to socialize.
People with social anxiety always think about the "what ifs." What if I get there and I have nothing to talk about? What if I make a fool out of myself? It paralyzes them from going out and trying new things.
As a child, you're taught not to be afraid of the monsters under your bed. But as an adult, you can't just tell yourself that those fears are irrational. You need to find ways to work around it and face them head on.
The best way to do this is to practice a skill called exposure therapy. To do this, you'll want to make a list of all the things that scare you—it helps to create a hierarchy where you rank each fear on how hard they are to confront for you—and then start by doing the easiest one first.
Maybe it's just going out alone to a coffee shop or bar nearby. Once you get used to that, try something harder like talking to someone in the grocery store.
After that, take on your biggest fear: If it's public speaking or approaching strangers in general, see if there are local classes or events in your area where you can participate, start small by introducing yourself to people at meetups and building up from there.
Simultaneously, use your imagination. Visualize yourself in the situation and see yourself doing everything that you are afraid of.
Imagine you are doing it perfectly, with confidence and comfort. You will feel really good after this exercise because it will be easier for you to manage anticipatory fear.
And if the worst-case scenario happens, know that you'll be able to handle it and life will go on.
Crucial Element for Socializing - Stop Judging Others
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”- MotherTeresa
There is a vital step to socialize with people: you must stop judging others. We all have warped perceptions of others. Stereotypes, prejudices and generalizations are human nature.
It's the way we make sense of the world around us in order to survive. If you think that people are inherently bad, you will never extend yourself socially.
When you think of others as "bad" or "wrong" or "in the wrong," you're shutting out the possibility that they might just be different.
This type of judgment turns people into caricatures and stops us from seeing them as fully fleshed-out human beings.
Avoiding this type of thinking can help us to be more open-minded and accepting, which encourages us to get to know people a little bit better.
You might not realize it, but when you pass judgment on someone or something, you're automatically putting up a wall between yourself and whoever or whatever you're judging.
You may not feel that way at first—it might even seem like you're making an objective observation about something.
But if we dig deeper, we can see how this type of thinking affects us: it puts us in the position of being an authority figure and makes us feel superior when we look down on others.
It's a way to avoid interacting with others by putting them into little boxes: "I'm better than this person because they are too loud," or "They're wrong because they don't fit my political beliefs."
The problem is that once we start looking at other people this way, we marginalize and demean them, dismissing the possibility for connection.
Again, when you are comparing someone against a bevy of standards, you are not seeing them as they really are—you are only seeing them through the lens of your own mind, shaped by your own attitudes, which means that your view might not be accurate at all.
So, when you feel general contempt for people (the expression, "I hate people" is more common than you think), social isolation can easily result.
And it's an attitude that is simply not true—there are plenty of examples of goodness in the world, and it's important to remember this when you find yourself feeling like everyone else is a proverbial monster that must be avoided.
In order to get along with others, we must first accept that they are human beings just like us ... with their own experiences and stories.
When we understand this commonality with others, it becomes easier for us to relate and empathize with each other ... which makes socializing much more likely (and satisfying)!
7 Thoughtful Ways to Build and Expand Your Social Life
I've already discussed several methods to go from zero social life to a meaningful one.
Here are 7 other methods to use:
1. Try it for 30 days: Make an agreement with yourself that for the next 30 days you will go out of your way just once a day to engage in some form of social activity.
Don't overthink it, just commit to doing it.
It may seem daunting at first but after a few days, things should start to fall into place, and you will have more fun doing this then you would have thought possible.
2. Limit social media - A healthy social life requires real-life interactions, not social media. The "trend" of posting about life on Facebook and Instagram has tricked us into thinking that we're actually connecting with other people when we're not. We're only connected to the digital manifestation of our lives.
Social media gives us the feeling of being connected, but the feeling is a lie. How much time have you spent on Facebook today? An hour? Two hours? More?
It's easy to get sucked into looking at pictures of other people's vacations and what they had for dinner last night, but that doesn't mean your social life is improved. In fact, your social life might be worse.
Social media has become a crutch for many people because it gives them a way to avoid real-life interactions.
It's so easy just to sit on the couch and scroll through an endless stream of pictures and status updates instead of going out and meeting someone you don't know (and might never meet).
But by getting off social media, you make yourself available to a real-life connection.
You are more approachable and more available to other people when they see you in person because they know you're not hiding behind your phone or computer screen.
3. Join a club or organization that matches your passions.
Joining a club or organization is a great way to meet people and build relationships with like-minded individuals.
If you enjoy hiking, you may be able to find a group of people who live near you and want to go hiking regularly.
If you're interested in antique cars, there may be a group that meets monthly to talk about their hobby and work on projects.
If you enjoy photography, there may be a city-wide gathering of people who want to share their work with others and learn from one another.
It's even better if you have an interest that would take you outside your normal routine—perhaps there's a cycling club that meets for breakfast once a month or a knitting club that goes out for coffee after knitting together during the week.
You could even join an organization for people who love the same TV shows as you, or a book club where everyone reads the same book at the same time.
Religious organizations also offer a great avenue for meeting others.
A big part of joining any club or organization is the benefit of learning from other members who are already passionate about what they do, as well as contributing your own knowledge and expertise to others in the group.
4. Meet up with people from your past.
If you're not socializing in the now, look up and connect with people from the past. Whether it's a former teacher or a cousin you haven't seen in years, reconnecting with people you've lost touch with can make a positive difference in your life.
Genuine connections with other people are an important part of life, but it can often be difficult to form these relationships.
When we lose touch with someone, it can feel like there's no way to get back into their life. But as long as you have some sort of past connection, you can reconnect today through one of several possible routes.
If a face-to-face reconnection is too intimidating, consider reaching out over phone, text, or email.
5. Make an effort to attend local events that may bring you into contact with new people (ex. concerts, conferences).
Making an effort to attend local events that may bring you into contact with new people can be a great way to build your social life.
Events like concerts, conferences, and even sporting events can give you the opportunity to meet many different people who have similar interests.
It could be as simple as striking up a conversation about the band you're both there to see.
You never know when an initial conversation can lead to lasting friendship.
6. Volunteer for an organization or cause you believe in.
Volunteering has many benefits that go beyond just making new friends.
Socializing as part of a group helps us feel connected and gives us the opportunity to feel needed, both of which decrease isolation and increase wellbeing.
Volunteering also helps you boost your self-esteem by giving back to the community.
There are endless opportunities to volunteer, no matter what your particular interests are: there are programs for children, teens, adults and seniors—even pets.
It's important not just to find someplace to volunteer but also a way that speaks to you personally. For example, if you're more introverted, one-on-one mentoring might be perfect for you; if you're more extroverted, helping with a large group project might fit better.
The important thing is not necessarily your role in the process, but finding something that makes you feel like a valuable member of the team.
Helping others will help you.
7. Take a class that piques your interest.
No social life? A good solution to this might be to take a class, even if it's not something you would normally consider doing. It doesn't matter what the class is about, as long as it piques your interest.
It could be a cooking class, art class, dance class, language class or something else entirely—just make sure it has the potential to get you out of your comfort zone in an interesting way.
If you feel like your social life is lacking in any way, that's perfectly fine. It's not a sign of some defect in your personality or a reason for concern about how well adjusted you are.
Many people are perfectly content with their own company and having one or two close friends.
Some people even thrive in solitude, and as discussed in this post, there are benefits derived from the absence of a social life.
But as humans, we're naturally social creatures. We crave companionship and social interaction.
So many of us, including those who are shy, introverted and/or ill-at-ease socially, want to add more acquaintances and friends to our social circle.
We want to feel cared for and loved (at least liked), and desire to reciprocate such feelings.
We strongly want, and perhaps need, closer connections!
Hopefully, you will embrace some of my suggestions, take action and go from no social life to one that is a healthy work in progress.
Proceed building your social circle at your own pace, but you do not necessarily have to proceed with absolute caution.
Your kindred spirits are out there; you just have to find them.
In the interim, be your own best friend and realize that even superficial relationships can blossom into something more meaningful if you're willing to put in the work.
Remember, even those with an extensive social circle started off with no social life, too.
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