I’ve been an introvert ever since I was a little girl. Thankfully, I’m no longer shy; just quiet and observant.
When I was younger, it always took me a while to adjust to new people and new surroundings. Even so, once I spent enough time in new places, I could leave my comfort zone and be myself.
Breaking free from shyness was always helped by times I got to interact with people in small groups, like at church or at the gym daycare where my mom would drop me off while she worked out.
The same is true now
The small group atmosphere worked for me then, and it works for me now on an even deeper level.
Back then, you got to know people before you played a game or acted silly. As an adult, I’ve learned how small group settings facilitate more than a playful atmosphere, but provide a place for cultivation of friendships.
When my husband and I attended a church called Christ the King in Cincinnati, OH, we decided we should join a community group to get to know others in the church who we would otherwise look past.
After being part of that group for eight months now, my husband and I have made four solid friends from our group, one of whom we are very close with.
My recommendation for readers
If you find yourself struggling to get connected with people from church or school, follow the following steps to get out of your reclusive funk:
- At a church, join a Bible study group. At a college, join a group with people who meet for a shared interest.
Most of the churches I’ve visited over the years have community Bible study groups. All schools have several options for student life groups.
For example, I go to a very small Christian college (Cincinnati Christian University) and still found it difficult to get connected at the beginning.
I decided to remain a hermit in my room for fear of rejection from others. By the end of my first semester, I made friends with a bunch of people who liked to play card games.
Deciding to leave my room once to play cards with a group of people changed my social life at school.
I became more confident and much more present on campus outside of my dorm room.
- Wherever you choose to participate, be consistent.
The key to cultivating relationships is being there every week or every meeting. This shows your new acquaintances that you believe in spending your time with them.
They will be more open about themselves to you and will be more interested in having you open up as well.
- Meet with people from your group in between meetings.
It’s one thing to show interest in other peoples’ lives while you are at the meetings, but it is another thing to invite someone from your group to join you for coffee or a movie.
This allows for deep friendship to take place. The other person may begin to confide in you more (and vice versa) than they do at the meetings.
Soon enough, you’ll get to experience the joy of sharing inside jokes or having someone to talk to when you’re going through tough situations.
Don’t limit yourself to just one group
My husband and I have committed to attending three weekly groups with various institutions and one regular game night at his sister’s house.
I think it’s good to join one community group per organization you’re part of. Do one with your church, one with your school or ministry, and one catering to an interest you have.
If you get well connected with a few different groups, you’re not getting fed the same kinds of information at every meeting. It’s good for the mind to dabble in a few areas at once, especially socially.
The hardest part is the beginning
No matter what you enter into, there’s going to be some barrier to overcome.
At a new place of employment, you have to learn a new system and new people. At a new school, you have to find a group of friends.
That’s how it is everywhere. But don’t let the hard beginning deter you from the wonderful ending. Think of your past involvement in a group of friends or in an organization.
It was probably difficult to find your way into the mix at first, but after sticking with it, you now have good friends and a safe place to seek help. Most importantly, your decision to join this group has allowed your character to develop.
I’m still an introvert, but I’m no longer afraid to hide my personality. I believe this is due to breaking out of my comfort zone, staying committed, and going deeper with friends I’ve made.
For an additional community group experience, worship with us here at the Inbound Church <-Click!