Catching Up On Your Basic Social Skills Doesn't Always Feel Like An Exciting Goal
Plenty of people want to improve their basic interpersonal skills or become less anxious and insecure around others. It's hardly the biggest barrier to changing, but one issue that can get in the way of those two goals is that they're not especially glamorous.
Some social goals feel more flashy and motivating. They promise an exciting, rewarding life, as you build skills that will make you liked, admired, and influential. For example:
- Becoming a super-fun, charismatic life of the party
- Getting really good at dating and attracting partners
- Becoming a captivating public speaker or performer
- Developing high-end leadership skills
- Turning into a top-earning sales master
- Being amazing at networking and building business connections
- Becoming so popular and connected you can get into fancy, exclusive events
People can be so motivated by these goals that they base their identities around working toward them, for better or for worse. For example, someone who's excited about building a business by improving their sales and networking skills. They may read lots of books and go to seminars on selling techniques, they may only want to hang out with other budding entrepreneurs, and they'll tell anyone who will listen about all the big things they're working on.
Learning to carry a basic conversation or talk to people without feeling nervous is different. Gaining those abilities isn't impressive. They're life skills we're just expected to have. People who feel behind in these areas can feel ashamed about it, and don't feel like they're on some journey they want to boast about.
Gaining a decent level of social skills and self-confidence can absolutely lead to a more fulfilling life if you were previously lonely, anxious, and unable to connect with others. But Finally having a regular social life isn't as alluring an outcome as Being that magnetic person everyone wants to talk to when they walk into the room. It's one thing to belatedly gain a baseline level of success most people already have. It's another to be above average.
If someone's shy, lonely, and awkward the thought of catching up may still be plenty motivating. For others it's not enough of an incentive. Trying to get to that point seems like a chore. If they could magically have better people skills in a snap they'd go for it, but they're less interested in working for them. That's especially true if someone's less-social by nature, and while they sometimes wish they had more friends, most of the time they're content enough on their own.
What you can do if the 'not-glamorous' factor is affecting your motivation to work on your social skills or confidence
One thing many people do is pick a more exciting social goal, and then see catching up on the basics as an early step in that journey. For example, they'll aim to be extra-charismatic, and see working on their core conversation skills as laying the foundation for the higher-end stuff they'll learn later. Even if they stop practicing once they've reached an average level of compentence, the dream of being really skilled still got them moving. Many sources of social advice play into this kind of motivation by portraying basic advice as if it's advanced. It makes people feel like they're learning something secret and powerful, when they're really just being given useful, but ho-hum, concepts.
Though maybe you can't get jazzed up about the goal of having amazing leadership or dating skills. It's just not what's important to you. Another option is to try to make catching up on the basics feel more personally exciting. Sure, it won't make you a one-in-a-thousand star, but how much better would your life be if you had an average level of confidence in yourself? Really think of the possibilities and get inspired by them. How much more enjoyable would your days be if you could have fun conversations with your co-workers? How good would it feel if you could have plans on the weekend whenever you wanted?
Similarly, could you personally take some of the shame and stigma out of the idea that you're beneath other people for trying to catch up in some basic life skills? Could you accept and embrace the fact that due to factors outside your control your social skills and self-esteem are a bit shaky, but you're going to put in the effort to catch up anyway? Is there a community of like-minded people you can connect with, so you can all cheer each other on, and normalize what you're going through?
Finally, you could try to make peace with the fact that working on your baseline people skills isn't inherently exciting, but not everything has to be. Yeah, it would be easier if it was, but if you can accept this goal isn't going to light a huge fire under you, maybe then you can get on with the business of chipping away at it.