Don't enjoy socializing at church! Help?


Anachron

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Hi all,

I'm fairly new here. I just have a question for some of you out there.

I have a hard time going to church because I very much dislike socializing with people. I feel so much pressure to be chatty and perky that I sometimes over-act and misrepresent myself as a super nice and fun guy. (Then I find myself sorry later when Im invited to chat church over an awkward dinner.)

I'm not mean at all, and I occasionally like a conversation or two when it's not about church life or culture, but sometimes I skip out on church because I can't handle the stress of having to talk to anyone. I guess it's also worth saying that I am easily overstimulated by lights, noise, etc and besides the mall at Christmastime, church is the second worst place to be for me!

I know the concept of a "ward family" is important, but what can I do when "getting to know you" seems against my very nature? I readily help people move or clean, etc. because it doesn't involve me having to chat, just to do. I try to show my support of them this way, but I'm anxious to hit the road when then the post-move pizza comes out.

This stinks! :confused:

Any thoughts?

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The primary function of attending church is to listen to the gospel. Socialising and making friends is only a bonus. I prefer to keep to myself when I go to church. I'm a lot more introverted than extroverted in person. I'm happy with my group of friends and I rarely feel the desire to venture out and make new ones. Just be yourself and don't sweat it. Also, you can always politely turn down invites if get-togethers just aren't your thing :]

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Any thoughts?

Here are a few of mine:

Socialization takes work. Some people are energized by socializing, so the work for them is more than made up for by how jazzed they get in the interaction; such people are called "extroverts". Others find socializing to be a net drain, and in fact often need to take time to themselves to recharge; such people are called "introverts".

You sound like you are a natural introvert. Nothing wrong with that; many share your proclivities, including some on this very list. Wanting some alone time to calm down and recharge is fine.

But here's the thing: Socialization with good folks makes you a happier and better person. This is true even if you're an introvert. It's just plain rewarding to interact socially with other good people. Extroverts get this naturally, but introverts need to work a little harder, because socialization is not always comfortable.

I have found that "being an extrovert" is simply another social skill, like eating politely and holding a conversation with a new acquaintance. The more I do it, the easier it gets, because I become more skillful.

Interesting and probably meaningless story: I took an internet version of a "Meyers-Briggs" personality test some years ago, and tested fairly solidly as a type "INTJ", where the "I" means "introverted". About a week or two ago, I retook the test (or another like it) and scored more moderately, but this time as an "ENTJ", where the "E" means "extroverted". So if you put any stock at all in internet-based Meyers-Briggs tests (which you probably shouldn't), the suggestion is that these personality traits can change.

I think you'd do well to exert yourself a bit and try to act somewhat more social, tiring though it may sometimes be. I think five months -- or five years -- from now, you will be very happy you did.

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You go to church for the gospel not as a social activity.... Granted there are a large number of "social Mormons" in fact most of the people you go to church with are there only for social reasons.

If you feel awkward in social situations and it sounds like you may have some deeper issues you should see a trained professional.

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You go to church for the gospel not as a social activity.... Granted there are a large number of "social Mormons" in fact most of the people you go to church with are there only for social reasons.

If you feel awkward in social situations and it sounds like you may have some deeper issues you should see a trained professional.

Really? And how do you know this?

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How many people stop going to church because they are offended? How many new converts fall away because they do not feel socially accepted? Stats don't lie and our church is not unlike many others in the social aspect of things.

If a testimony was all that people needed to be active our buildings would be bursting at the seams.... Clearly that is not the case.

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Hello, Anachron;

I so relate to what you experience at church! It is hard to socialize and talk to people for me as well. I have really struggled with this...I'm well known in my ward as being "less-active." There have been times when I've gone to church and have had 2-3 different people offer to escort me to the next meeting in the block. I had also bore my testimony one Sunday where I introduced myself, as was instructed. So many people in the ensuing weeks came up to me and called me by name; but, didn't introduce who they were, leaving me totally in the dark as to how I knew them. This happened at the grocery story and other places as well as church.

What helped me to stop feeling so overwhelmed was to be honest with my Relief Society Pres. about my feelings and telling her what was happening to me. Before long, people started to ignore me more than approach me. It was a relief!

Another thing that helps me is to have "one on one" conversations with people I already know and believe are friendly to me. I do better with one on one interchanges than with many people at a time.

If even speaking "one on one" with people makes you uncomfortable, I would suggest you talk to one of the leaders about your feelings and ask not to be approached so much...Also, don't be shy to give a short, courteous answer to a question and then excuse yourself to walk away. You don't have to interact verbally if you don't want to. I'm not saying to be rude. I am saying that you can cut conversations short by showing you don't want to talk through words, body language and facial movements. Always be kind; but, love yourself enough to give yourself the space needed to be able to cope with this...

Hope this helps.

Dove

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How many people stop going to church because they are offended? How many new converts fall away because they do not feel socially accepted? Stats don't lie and our church is not unlike many others in the social aspect of things.

If a testimony was all that people needed to be active our buildings would be bursting at the seams.... Clearly that is not the case.

I don't know. You tell me. Share your stats..your source of information.

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Hi Leah,

I have heard a statistic that only 40% (it may be 60%, not sure) of the members of the church are even considered active. I apologize if I'm butting in, I don't want to be rude. I just agree with Alucar, it is soo important for people to feel loved and welcomed at church. If we can't show love there, where in the world can we show it?!

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I have a hard time going to church because I very much dislike socializing with people. I feel so much pressure to be chatty and perky that I sometimes over-act and misrepresent myself as a super nice and fun guy. (Then I find myself sorry later when Im invited to chat church over an awkward dinner.)

I just knew I had a twin sibling out there somewhere! Honestly, Anachron, you're in good company. If I had my way, I'd get 98% of my interaction with non-nuclear-family humans via my keyboard, with the other 2% being accidentally running into people in the store.

I can help you out. There are commandments/covenants, and then there are cultural expectations. The first (like 'gather together oft' and 'bear one another's burdens') we should strive to do to the best of our ability. So Sunday church attendence, filling your calling, and finding ways to help folk are "thou shalts". But the second thing - cultural expectations of our fellow mormons - are not a mandate. Yes, mormons just naturally pressure people to be chatty and perky (I love how you put it). Someone wanting you to do something, doesn't naturally mean you need to do it.

My ward has accepted me and my family. My wife has many friends to talk to. Our kids are loved and accepted and included. And I'm accepted as the introverted guy who sits in the corner and isn't that great in conversations. It took a little work to get them to know me. I had to give a sacrament meeting talk where I thanked everyone for accepting me and my reclusive ways. I had to thank several people profusely for inviting me places, but politely declining. And I had to show everyone that I was active, by going to meetings, contributing to lessons, accepting and magnifying callings, and helping folk when I could. That last sentence is key - so many mormons interpret quietness as "Ohmygosh - that person is losing their testimony! Time to activate the mormon love tsunami!" People don't get that notion when you're giving a sunday school lesson, even when you duck out of church right after, because they'll know you'll be back next week.

Anyway, if none of that works for you, there's always the three simple words "I am gay". But even that works less and less every year. ^_^

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have the same difficulty. I don't like socializing very much and it doesn't help that I don't have much in common with other people. I've managed to make 2 really good friends that I usually stick by, but they too get into other groups of women and get chatty. It's definitely a struggle. Is there anyone else that seems to keep to themselves that you can befriend?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks, Dove, for the thoughtful answer. I appreciate your experience and learning from you.

I am also somewhat "less-active" because I have a hard time at church with all the people. But when I do go, I usually enjoy myself and learn quite a lot. Also, being a member of the priesthood makes it somewhat difficult to stay on the fringe without offending or giving the wrong impression - it seems that I'm always expected to be "on point".

Thanks again!

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Anyway, if none of that works for you, there's always the three simple words "I am gay". But even that works less and less every year. ^_^

I haven't tried that one yet. :) That's one way to avoid the "love tsunami"!

Thanks for your thoughts. I guess the biggest issue here for me is to learn to be "active" (meaning other than going to church). In fulfilling callings, talks, lessons, etc. I interact with people more than I care to. I was just called to work with the Scouts - how's that for no wanting to interact with people much? :)

Thanks again.

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I have the same difficulty. I don't like socializing very much and it doesn't help that I don't have much in common with other people. I've managed to make 2 really good friends that I usually stick by, but they too get into other groups of women and get chatty. It's definitely a struggle. Is there anyone else that seems to keep to themselves that you can befriend?

Thanks for the response!

I also live in a university ward - probably should have mentioned that. Well, it's not a university ward, per se, but is close to a university so it has a lot of young marrieds in it. Since there are also many older folks, its kind of tough to find inbetween ages to hang out with.

I think my biggest problem is that I didn't grow up around many members so most of my friends haven't been LDS. I have a hard time knowing how to talk to LDS people - big problem on my mission, too.

Thanks for your comments!

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Thanks, Dove, for the thoughtful answer. I appreciate your experience and learning from you.

I am also somewhat "less-active" because I have a hard time at church with all the people. But when I do go, I usually enjoy myself and learn quite a lot. Also, being a member of the priesthood makes it somewhat difficult to stay on the fringe without offending or giving the wrong impression - it seems that I'm always expected to be "on point".

Thanks again!

"On point" huh? :) I'm enjoying the way you put things too.

I'll admit that this is one of the things that makes LDS culture hard. I don't know....maybe this happens in any group. Groups seem to demand conformity. But I think that we have to liberate ourselves from that.

I don't like it that you feel you have to make yourself into something that you aren't just to meet the social pressures or to prevent people from misjudging you. I'm wondering if you don't know how to be yourself and win social favor. I wish I could express here how much I empathize. But this makes me sad. That you feel you have to hide who you really are and play some part to be considered righteous.

So, I guess I'm wondering what's your way of being/shining in the world? What would it look like for you to own your way of being and your way of serving others? It seems to me that God NEEDS lots of different types of servants. How else will he meet all the varied needs that comes with such a diverse group of children?

And if those of us who march by a unique beat (being all of us :) ) don't start letting our light shine? How will others learn to appreciate our amazing gifts?

Consider for a minute all the diverse animals God has created. I'm in awe at the variety of the fish! let alone everything else. What a boring place this world would be without all of it. And what a boring place church becomes when we all disown who we really are and the unique gifts we have to offer in exchange for some accepted social stereotype that we think makes us appear "better". Like the church needs more "perky people". It's like saying we need more white SUV's in Draper, Utah. BLECK!!

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Hi all,

I'm fairly new here. I just have a question for some of you out there.

I have a hard time going to church because I very much dislike socializing with people. I feel so much pressure to be chatty and perky that I sometimes over-act and misrepresent myself as a super nice and fun guy. (Then I find myself sorry later when Im invited to chat church over an awkward dinner.)

I'm not mean at all, and I occasionally like a conversation or two when it's not about church life or culture, but sometimes I skip out on church because I can't handle the stress of having to talk to anyone. I guess it's also worth saying that I am easily overstimulated by lights, noise, etc and besides the mall at Christmastime, church is the second worst place to be for me!

I know the concept of a "ward family" is important, but what can I do when "getting to know you" seems against my very nature? I readily help people move or clean, etc. because it doesn't involve me having to chat, just to do. I try to show my support of them this way, but I'm anxious to hit the road when then the post-move pizza comes out.

This stinks! :confused:

Any thoughts?

You are right. It stinks when can't be ourselves. And all the demands of conformity that comes from church culture is tough. But I think we need to liberate ourselves from it.

I guess I'm wondering what made you decide that the only way for you was to over-act in non-genuine ways? Do you experience direct criticism for not being more "perky"? Or is there a chance that you might be guessing how others perceive your more introverted way?

So, I guess I'm wondering what your wish would be? What would need to change so that you could be exactly who and what you are, and feel acceptable to others too?

And, what's your way of being/shining/serving in the world? It seems to me that God NEEDS lots of different types of servants. How else will he meet all the varied needs that comes with such a diverse group of children?

And if those of us who march by a unique beat (being all of us :) ) don't start letting our light shine, how will others learn to appreciate our amazing gifts?

Consider for a minute all the diverse animals God has created. I'm in awe at the variety of the fish, let alone everything else. He carved out a special place and purpose for all of them. What a boring place this world would be without all of it! And what a boring and stagnant place church becomes when we choose to hide or disown who we really are in favor of some some fake-ish social stereotype that we think makes us appear "better". Like the church needs more "perky people". It's like saying we need more white SUV's in Draper, Utah. BLECK!!

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Be careful with labels like "introvert" and "extrovert". They don't always adequately describe a person's social characteristics. In my case, I have no problem speaking in front of a chapel of people, teaching a lesson, or bearing my testimony. On the other hand, I dread idle chit chat with members in the hallway. I'm not very good at saying clever things or having casual conversations so I feel terribly awkward. I prefer to stand alone quietly smiling. I believe going to church is not about trying to impress others or fit into their mold of what they think you should be, but simply to be the best self you can be when you go to worship our Heavenly Father.

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i can say tht you need to relax alittle, when you talk to people in the hallway dont over-think things. that makes the conversation awkward. believe in yourself and let the conversation flow and you will be fine. trust yourself and dont think too much on what the other peson is thinking about while you are talking to them. yes you go to cchurch to be the best you can be and to worship our heavenly father but i truly believe that through our friends they can help us be the best we can be. wheen we go through rough times sometimes the answers to our prayers do not come directly to us but through others, through church members, our friends.......:)

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