(Trigger warning: Coarse language, uncomfortable situations and depictions await further into this post. Reader discretion is advised.)
You still freeze up when you click on that person on your contact list. That person you’ve known long enough to start getting the funny idea in your head they might actually like you.
It’s the same song and dance from here. You tell yourself they need space;you definitely give them more than they need.
They have other friends, anyway. It’s not like you really added anything special to their day, right?
I struggle with these same thoughts sometimes, although it hasn’t been this bad since I was 14. There was a time when starting a conversation, replying, and knowing what to say was absolute torture.
You feel alienated. Alone.
But you don’t deserve to feel that way. The hardest part is getting the help you need. This guide will show you how to shatter and barrier and never look back.
Start making connections. Keep learning and adapting.
- Anxiety – Before Sending the Message
- Fear – Sending the Message
- Rejection – Message Sent (A)
- Embarrassment – Message Sent (B)
- “I’m boring” – Knowing What to Say
The root of everything that follows. An oppressive monster sitting on your chest and striking your finger tips as you go to send a message. It’s best to frame your strategy around it rather than against it.
Because, whether you like it or not, it’s a part of you. And though, it’s hard to understand. You can find a way to make peace with it.
(Hint #1: There are some helpful tips on to deal with general anxiety on this website here.)
Here’s how to sidestep your messaging anxieties:
Don’t stew – Shoot your shot. Go to the person you want to talk to no matter who they are. Crafting a message shouldn’t take an hour or two to craft–especially if it’s conversational.
You’re less likely to reply the longer you try writing the ‘perfect’ message. Write something short and let it fly. It’s easier said than done, but worth it once you get it down.
A quick conversation starter is to relate the greeting to what you were doing before you messaged the person. “Hey, was finishing up soccer practice and saw your cute icon!”It’s a quick ‘serve’ to the other side of the screen.
The pressure will be taken off you to carry the conversation and you won’t stew over what to say in the future. (More detail in Boring)
Enhance your perspective – Whether it’s playing video games or reading a book, that little ping from a friendly face really gets the dopamine going. Although sometimes it feels like it should be the other way around.
You think the other person is on the edge of their seating and waiting for your next reply. While in reality the conversation is more likely a side attraction to what they’re actually doing.
Since their attention is divided it could take them a while to respond. They’ll immediately close the app after answering, or miss messages and so on. It’s good to remember that the person on the other side of the screen isn’t wholly dependent on you for entertainment.
Because sometimes you forget that everything isn’t about the conversation. As the pressure mounts to make every reply a ‘good’ reply you forget the main point of talking to your friend: to have fun. To enjoy your time spent with them text-wise or not.
Take yourself out of the conversation to give yourself time to restore social energy. DO NOT ghost your friends, but DO excuse yourself. “I’ll be back later, I need to de-stress” can go a long way. (Note: It’s perfectly okay to take time for yourself during a conversational dead moment.)
Get some fresh air, look at memes, or do some exercise. Whatever gets your mind off the impending doom brought about by your subconscious unrest.
Put it together and you could start having great conversations like this:
(Hint #2: Don’t be afraid to be honest about your struggles with anxiety. It helps build understanding between you and your conversational partner. Plus they can be anxious too! Tackle it together.)
You’ve done it, you’ve sent it. Now you can just relax and wait for them to respond, right? It’s easy.
It should be easy.
“They only talked to you out of pity. Nothing more. Now there’s nothing left to hold you back because of something you said.” Fear’s voice is cold.
That’s when you hear that dreaded notification ping–a sound you once loved. The ball is in your court again. It’s your turn now.
You timidly peek at your phone’s message preview your heart drops.
This is where the conversation dies. Wordlessly, you set the phone down and thrust yourself back into your music. Your safe space.
They made you wait on them to reply. What’s a few extra minutes?
It’s a tough habit to break. One I’m all too familiar with.
(Hint #3: Sending a funny meme can go a long way for breaking up dull moments or even starting a conversation. Let that meme fly the next time you happen upon a FUNNEEEEE JOKE)
The question becomes: How do we conquer fear?
First you need to understand what your fears are. Not the voices in the back of your head or what they’re saying, but where they come from. What makes them pop up? Is it when you’re under stress? When you’re preoccupied? Are there any identifiable triggers that make you go from docile to uneasy.
It won’t be easy to wrap your head around it to find the root, but that’s fine. It’s not supposed to be since this is about confronting and taking control of parts of yourself that, until this point, had been stowed away. To aid in this look through your contacts list, think back to the last time you made a lasting connection with someone. What were the factors surrounding it? Why did it end? What kept it going?
Asking yourself these questions will help you understand more of what is really tearing you away from people. The fear taking hold of you can only do so much if you unhook its claws from your most vulnerable spots.
Another way to level off the fear is to reach out to your friend beforehand and ask them to give you a reminder note. Just something you can look at on twitter or your gallery, saved messages etc. that will remind you that it’s okay to take time for yourself. That it’s all right for you to take some time away and come back later.
It’s best to ask a friend who’s relatively close to you to write the note. It can be something like this:
Hey it’s __Enter Friend’s Name Here__,
I know you’re having a hard time right now, so just a little reminder that I care about you. I don’t care how long it takes you to reply, and it’s okay if you take a day. I’ll probably be checking up on you again sometime soon, so please don’t push me away. You mean a lot to me and I’ll help you if you need it.
Talk later! ^w^Warm Loving Friend Note
It could be the cheesiest thing you’ve ever seen, or ‘cringe’ as some might put it. Who cares? It doesn’t matter what’s between you and a friend. Everyone needs help sometimes and it’s absolutely valid to ask for them to write you a little check-in note like this.
Then, to build on the previous steps it might be a good idea to shut off message read notifications altogether. If you’re aware that one of your obsessions is that damned check mark, then I suggest turning off everything having to do with seeing when someone was last online, when you’re online etc. That both gives you the freedom to reply to someone whenever you want without having to overly commit depending on your mental state. It frees up your mind mentally.
When there’s nothing to look at as soon as you open the messenger app it’s easier to casually check on it for a new message from a friend. Going further you can set aside a ‘social time’ maybe towards the beginning or end of the day depending on when you have more free time or energy.
Don’t forget it’s not a secret! Let your friends know what’s going on with you and what you’re doing. Tell them when you’ll be online or when the best time to catch you is. That way you’ll be kept away from the worst possible outcome: atrociously long months of ghosting and social exhaustion.
The last defense against fear would be a little trick that might sound silly at first. Take your phone, and say out loud to yourself “I am going to open Telegram now!” Alternatively, “I’m going to contact this artist on FA to send them a note… Now!” And before you can change your mind you do the action.
If you pause, repeat chant going into the next action. “I would like to get a commission of my femboy fox getting bent over by Clifford and send the message!” Even if you laugh at how ridiculous it is, it can make all the difference. Letting fear set that seed of grief into your belly is exactly what it’s trying to do.
Doesn’t work so well if you’re giggling and smiling.
Ideally, you’ll say your actions out loud as many times as you need to. It’s the best way to get yourself to do something you otherwise don’t want to do. In a way it kind of hypnotizes yourself into doing mundane actions, to train your mind to work the way you want it to.
With enough practice you’ll find a way to tame your fear.
(Hint #4: Self help is a good start and therapy could be the next step for you! Check out more info on this website.)
You’ve sent your message. The stage is set, you’re raring to socialize and nothing is going to stop you! Ready to reply to any message sent your way you hop on an online game and gleefully await an interval where you can check your phone for a new message.
A few hours later and you check your phone–still nothing from your friend. An all too familiar chill runs down your spine.
That was it. That’s where it ended.
It’s hard to take yourself away from the situation. Why did this have to happen? Did you do something wrong?
Well, it’s a little bit of yes and no.
To start off you sent a ‘hey’ which is an overall weak way to start a conversation. Unless you typically talk to the person in question everyday, a little more effort is excepted. So, in response the other recipient gives an equally deflated response.
The ball is in your court again, and you fumble the toss once more. This time in spectacular fashion by asking the age old question ‘how are you’ what could be classified as the biggest ‘non starter’ of any conversation.
Whether or not the other person is in a good mood or not isn’t the question. The real question they’re wondering is what you’re going to say after they reply.
From their perspective you’ll either:
- End the conversation there
- Add an interesting topic to continue speaking about with them
When they see that you choose the easier option, ending the conversation, they don’t mourn the loss of the conversation. This could happen to anyone of us may it be a partner, friend, or otherwise, but why does this rejection happen?
Just like you people are busy, forget, or run out of things to say. That doesn’t mean you can’t try again another time. Try having a conversation about any communication problems, too.
A conversation is a two way street and regardless of how well you prepare yourself the reality remains the same. No matter who you’re talking to, or how well you preposition your reply there’s still a chance you’ll end up getting rejected in some way or form.
However, it doesn’t mean you should feel like giving up. That would be like if you stopped playing basketball because not all of your shots hit the net.
It takes two parts around the rejection to make the impact better on your overall mental health without taking too much bruising. First, give as much effort as possible to the conversation at hand giving plenty of opportunity to the other person to reply. Secondly, follow up after a while to see if they saw your message or would like to hear about your day? Get creative and remember to give them opportunities to politely excuse themselves from the conversation if need be.
Speak confidently, and you’ll overcome any rejection heading your way.
(Hint #5: The internet is a vast place even if one person doesn’t return your gusto, there is someone out there that would love to be your friend! Check this out to get started.)
Let’s be honest with ourselves, we’ve all sent a text message that didn’t go as planned. The person read it, probably showed their friends and so on and so forth. If anything the ridicule should be a short lived bubble of a situation, only knocking around in the workings of your mind when it’s late at night and you’re drunk.
The reality of the situation can be a little more consuming. One bad incident can make your mind go haywire and suddenly you’re agonizing over every text message you send, thinking it’ll be the next to turn you into a laughing stock.
It’s not as simple as “don’t be cringey” because the definition of cringe depends on the person. For instance:
A charming block of text from r/creepyasterisks.
Does it make you inwardly cringe? Make your stomach turn? Maybe it’s because you see yourself on either side of the situation either as the offending RPer or as the emotionally distraught who’s not appreciative of the gesture.
Truth be told, the secret is there’s no avoiding embarrassment in some cases. Unsavory individuals will always be looking for a way to embarrass someone they don’t like and thanks to screenshots and ‘cancel culture’ there’s no one true way to keep yourself completely safe.
Okay, I know that sounds kind of bad. Hear me out though: it’s not the end of the world.
You don’t need to worry about doing something embarrassing because what others think about what you’re saying does not matter. They are seeing a snapshot of you–a flash in the pan. If you are being kind, considerate, and generally conversational then you didn’t do anything wrong. They just want to berate you because they can’t handle seeing someone who doesn’t match up with the person you’re supposed to be in their head.
Akin to fighting games sometimes you’ll make all the right moves and still lose simply because you were put into an impossible situation. You can listen, respond, and give excess room for error, but at the end of the day–once again–it’s a two way street.
On top of that remember that you can keep yourself out of social situations that are above your mental health capabilities. However, you need to accept that regardless of how much vetting you do, you can still be put into the spotlight.
Watch what you say to people outside your social circles. You might be able to greet someone with a “hey, asshole” if they’ve been your best friend for 10 years, but that could have entirely different implications to someone you just met down the street.
Stay alert, accept that mistakes happen, and keep vigilant. You’ll weave around embarrassment yet!
(Hint #6: People have short attention spans. You might feel like the spotlight is on you as soon as you send a text message, but even if you say something embarrassing it’ll be forgotten in minutes.)
(Hint #7: Change your ‘enter’ key to make it send the message. You’ll accidentally send a message and be forced to commit!)
Type it out… Erase…
The constant, type writer-esque rhythm to any self-editor. That tell-tale fret over the cursory thought, “I’m so boring I never know what to talk about.”
I touched upon it in the Anxiety page earlier, but now I’ll delve into how exactly you’re supposed to message someone and keep a conversation going.
Conversations follow a flowchart:
- Opening – Initial greetings, pictures, terrible/good thing that happened that day.
- Volley – Keeping the conversation going, introducing new topics.
- End – Saying goodbye.
The opening is the hardest part of any conversation, and it will change depending on who you’re talking to. If you’re trying to chat with someone new, your best bet is to, before messaging them privately is to make sure they’re accepting private messages at all.
Once you’ve got the go-ahead you’ll be able to officially start a conversation! Here’s how most of mine start:
[Greeting] + [Point of interest] is all you need. Art, jokes, reddit posts, etc. are all valid openers for a conversation. It’s all you need to start it off.
From there you move onto the volley stage in which you send messages back and forth with the other person.
[Current topic] + [Opinion] = New Message -> Which transforms into -> [New topic] + [Opinion linking new topic to old topic] = Conversation starter
Note that not all conversations have the same flow, and you definitely shouldn’t force yourself into the confines of this template structure. Keep in mind that every conversation has its own flow, and part of the flow could be long breaks in the conversation from either side, bringing up new topics in the middle of existing conversation, and so on.
If your conversations typically span an entire day it’s totally normal for there to be long pauses in between. Don’t be afraid to reply to the previous message even if it’s been a day. If they’re asking you how you are, don’t reply with ‘hi’ get the conversation started right away by telling them about your day and how it led to your current mood.
Ending a conversation is the easiest part, since it’s usually confined to one or two quick lines exchanged between the two of you. Contrary to popular belief though, there are a few ways conversations ‘end.’ Sending a sticker in response to a sticker, a RP action that isn’t responded to, or a sent picture left on read are all potential conversation enders.
However, that doesn’t mean the conversation will be over forever. Beckoning back to the Rejection section of the article, check-in every now and then to see if they’d like to pick things back up again.
As shown in this snippet you can pick up where you left off whenever you like.
Keep in mind that you’re your own worst critic when it comes to being interesting. Anyone is capable of having and maintaining conversations at their own pace. You’re not boring just because yours don’t exactly match up with other people’s. Talk about what interests you, what you think on this subject or that.
Find your rhythm and it’ll make messaging a little easier.
(Hint #8: Try out these silly conversation starters the next time you’re in a room with some fuzzies.)
Thank you for reading! If this helped you make sure to share this article around! Comment suggestions, subscribe to my blog, and have a great day. ^w^
(And of course my very patient friends who let me pick their brains~)