As somebody who intentionally decorates my body as a means of personal expression, I really don’t expect that people won’t compliment me or make comments about something i’m wearing or displaying on my body. This kind of attention is not the reason that I do it, but it is definitely a byproduct. Sometimes it’s exhausting and requires a lot of energy to engage with somebody in a manner that is gracious and grateful, but sometimes it’s a totally rad perk that helps me navigate through the world in a way that makes my extrovert side shine much brighter than my introvert.
My personality is the kind that 90% of the time dreads and begrudges having to go to social events, but once i’m there I almost always have THE BEST TIME.
On the rare occasion that I don’t, it’s probably because the other attendees are naturally just as socially awkward and anxious as I am, and it becomes really difficult for the group to pull itself out of the collective funk.
But, over the years, something i’ve learnt is that the ice just needs to be broken, and that can happen with some snazzy little interpersonal skills i’ve been honing – some of which relate to this vessel I call a “body”. Without depending solely on the assistance of booze, glorious booze, i’m gradually getting to the point where I can empower myself to control a challenging social situation and turn it into a fabulous time – table-top dancing not required. Although definitely encouraged, if the table be sturdy and we be amongst friends.
These are some of the things that I’ve found helpful:
Wear something interesting. It doesn’t have to be a shirt with ovaries on it, like this amazing one from Valfré. In fact, in various situations I would almost warn against it. But something that is a talking piece will certainly be the first crack in the ice and make it heaps easier for somebody to start a conversation with you.
In addition to this, have something to say about that item (like a tidbit or a small anecdote) so that you don’t just say “thanks” and stand their awkwardly. Some of my best friends probably always hear me respond to compliments about certain pieces with more or less the same response… “cheers, I got the fabric from my nana!” or “thanks, not many people realise it’s actually ice cream cones!” (that one’s specifically in relation to this exact bag, by Mad Pax) I do this because it works and throws the conversation gods a serious bone.
Reciprocate the interest, but only if it is genuine! Don’t just auto-respond with “thanks, I love your (insert whatever the first thing is that catches your eye)” because that can totally come off as disingenuous: we’ve all experienced that feeling, and it’s crapola. But as well as feeling shitty, unless the other person is an exceptional conversationalist, they will also respond with “thanks” and then you’ll both be back to square one. * twiddles thumbs * In fact, you don’t even have to say you “like” anything – you could also point out things that you find “interesting” or “eye-catching” about the person OR your shared environment. If you are noticing an outfit piece, you could also pull the “where did you get it? I feel like i’ve seen it at…/my friend’s got something similar…” card.
Ask questions, EVEN IF YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWERS. Obviously there’s a time and a place where it is more beneficial for you to appear to have all the answers, but most of the time you will totally win friends and influence people (especially peers) by letting them think that they have all the answers – and that they’ve totally helped you out of a jam. Sometimes my friends are heaps side-eyeing me when they hear me ask a question that they know I know the answer to. But 10 minutes later i’ve got TEN TIMES the original info (and usually a new friend) just because I got the ball rolling with that first question.
Be organised and on time so you’re not sweaty and stressing. This means – plan your outfit, plan your route, and leave extra time for disasters along the way. I know it sounds so simple and basic, but it really does make such a huge difference between turning up at an important event totally flustered, red in the face, and wide-eyed (not the fabulously mascara’d kind). I find that I have success with setting my alarm away from the bed so that I actually have to get up to turn it off.
Be optimistic! I know this is another “easier said than done”, but it also makes all the difference. The last 10 minutes before arriving at an event are always the worst for me – my mind starts flooding with insecurities and doubts. BUT my mum used to tell me, from a very young age; “your mind can only hold one thought at the time. If it’s not a good one, change it.” Cliché, I know. But it’s really true. Your mind might jump from thought to thought at a million miles an hour, but it still is only 1 thought at a time. So control it. Think about all those times you were totally empowered, the life of the party, the social butterfly, and looking oh so fierce! Chances are, you’re looking pretty damn fierce right now! Why not take a selfie? Message your bestie and tell them you’re on your way to the event and totally going to kill it! Fake it til you make it, baby. Pretty soon, it will feel real.
What are your go to tips for surviving scary situations and empowering yourself? I’d love to know!
SHIRT: Valfré – i’m wearing an XXL which is a somewhat rare unicorn, but keep an eye out on their stock!
SKIRT: replicate of an old dress that fell apart. This dress also fell apart, so it’s now just a skirt.
BACKPACK: Mad Pax “I Scream, You Scream” – for kids, but I have it in a full size.
EARRINGS: purchased on Route 66, but similar here on Etsy