i have anxiety so i have experience with this feeling!
the only way i can think of to describe how to do it is to treat your social anxiety like a rollercoaster. it is…so hard…to get over that first hill. but as soon as you work your way past that hill, the experience (of heart racing, thoughts turning, sweat) can be treated as exhilarating and wild — embrace it instead of trying to fight it.
it’s hard to talk to people. a good thing to remember is that most people find it nerve-wracking to interact with people that they don’t know. you’re not weird for it, it’s a natural reaction…we bond to people and those bonds are so secure, it’s too scary to think about casting out our lines for new friends, and to think about how long it takes to Make a Friend…
remember that you don’t necessarily have to start, nor with a question. a lot of people are more listeners or reactors than talkers/instigators. try to work on your people-radar, look for friendly faces, listen for conversations that you can add onto, or something you can make a comment on.
if you want to start with a question, good basic ones are 1) asking how the people got to the place where you are (this includes means of transportation, directions; people that you both know at the place; what they were doing before the thing that you’re doing now), 2) asking “so what do you do” and exploring their job or education or hobbies, 3) asking about the music or their outfit or what they’re drinking/eating…. this stuff is all really basic, yknow. i know people who hate small talk. i used to hate small talk. and now i know it’s just a stepladder — of course you don’t want to hang out on a stepladder, but a lot of times you need the little boost into an actual conversation!
the hardest part is the follow-through, it seems. i’m bad with making new friends but i’m really trying to do better. my main problem is the follow-through: i meet cool people and we add each other on facebook and i settle back into my nest at home and i wait too long to ask to hang out. if you add them on facebook or twitter or what have you, you don’t have to even ask to hang out right away, but like or reply to a few things so they know what’s up. or text them if you get their number and see something that reminds you of your conversation, or even like, “i’m free tonight and wanted to get dinner with friends, wanna come with?”
(—oh yeah that’s a good idea too, hanging out with someone one-on-one can seem too intimidating and sort of “date-like” so try to invite them along with a few of your other friends to get something to eat, or to see a movie, or whatever. sometimes if u text people or keep in touch with them, they’ll end up inviting you to the next party or movie that they go out with other people for, and then you have the possibility for making even more new friends!!)
making new friends is very tough!! if you need more info please send another ask!