How to be a social butterfly-Tips from an awkward extrovert
By: Kiara D Souza, MBBS First Year, Goa Medical College
You’ve just arrived at a party.
As you step out of your car, you receive a text. The friend you were supposed to hang out with just canceled on you. Now you’re at the entryway, watching people laugh at jokes you don’t know. In a room full of unfamiliar acquaintances, you feel pierced by judging gazes. You can hear malicious whispers about you. They probably think you’re lonely, you don’t have friends, and you’re unlikable.
You want to bolt.
Then you remember you’re a secret agent on a mission. There is a murder threat to one of the guests at the party, and you’re here to protect them. Your mission is to find out who the target is. What could the possible motives be? Who’s likely to be attacked?
So many questions!
You need more information.
What do you do?
Sure it seems like they’re judging you, but you don’t have time to feel insecure; you’re here to save a life!
You walk up to the first group you see. You compliment a member on their outfit for the evening, they smile, and they tell you yours is pretty too. You ask them about their favourite places to shop at, who their style icon is, and as you’re talking about their fashion sense, they let slip how they recently made an expensive purchase of a rare designer handbag, a collectible.
Could this be the target? Could robbery be the motive for the murder you’re looking for? Seems too easy. You ask for their number, just in case.
You move on.
This time, it’s a slightly intimidating boy with a large scar on his chin. It sparks your interest, so you ask him about it. His grim countenance changes and he describes with great enthusiasm his Mowgli-inspired childhood adventures at his grandmother’s farm.
Not the information you were hoping to glean but it was such a humorous conversation! You’ll exchange social media IDs and you move to the next interesting-looking person.
A few hours have passed.
You’ve never considered yourself a conversationalist, but you’ve held your own in topics ranging from animal rights to places to eat. You’ve spoken to nearly everyone in the room. You finally get to the host of the party and thank them for having you. They ask you whether you’re having fun.
You realise, this is the most fun you’ve ever had at a party. You didn’t let your insecurities get the better of you. You put yourself out there, connected with people and enjoyed every moment of it.
Now you wonder whether any of the stares were ever judgmental or if any of those cruel whispers even existed. You wonder if it was anyone but you who told you that nobody liked you.
You realise you don’t want to hold yourself back anymore. You turn difficult social situations into silly games like this one and you live happily ever after.
Based on true events.
No secret agents were harmed in the making of this article.
Ok but you must be asking, why’s this relevant to me? Why network? What are the advantages of being less socially awkward and putting yourself out there?
From an academic point of view, experience has a lot of weightage in medicine and to gain that experience you must be open to new ideas. Most of the knowledge you’ll obtain will not be from your books but from your seniors and your patients. The easier it is for you to talk to them, the easier it’ll be for you to learn from them.
Developing better social skills also makes you more self-reliant, allowing you to go places people you know might be afraid to go.
But the most important reason, in my opinion, is the support that having a reliable network of friends provides.
Nobody understands how the healthcare system works better than fellow healthcare workers. While our schoolmates are working their first jobs, buying their own houses, ‘settling down’ we’re still studying and there comes a point when relating to your childhood friends becomes impossible.
Becoming a doctor is a long and gruelling journey which takes a toll on your mental health. Having a few trustworthy friends can make those long days a little less long, those sleepless nights a little less tiring and those sweet memories a lot sweeter.
In a profession where nearly everyone experiences burnout, having someone to call upon when the fire burns, can make your journey from the ashes to a phoenix much much shorter.