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Men of Reddit who were once shy and socially anxious in their early 20s, how did you change and become more confident?

Happy to read your experiences, I am 20M and I am missing lots of things people my age do, due to shyness and low self-esteem.

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  1. Two main things: 1. People don’t think about you/notice you as much as you think they do. They are more focused on themselves 2. I don’t really like people for the most part. So why care what they could be thinking?

  2. Accepting my own death.

    Once I knew that I would die, and understood that to be the end of my existence and consciousness, the overwhelming horror and fear of that knowledge put a lot of things into perspective.

  3. I realized that it didn’t matter.

    Who cares if people think what you say or do is dumb, or even if they laugh at you for some inane reason.

    Who cares that they think you look silly, that you said something suggestive, that you fumbled your words, that you can’t dance or sing, or even that they think less of you for your race/sex/sexuality.

    It genuinely doesn’t matter. Be comfortable with yourself and people who see you for you will appear in your life.

    Just be yourself and enjoy it.

  4. Not to say that anyone else here is wrong, but I will tell you something that 100% works. It worked for me, it’s worked for every friend of mine that’s done what worked for me and so on –

    Get jacked. No joke, lift weights. You don’t need to get “huge” or shredded, don’t do roids or crash diet. Just watch what you eat and go to the gym and lift weights for an hour a day a few times a week.

    I can not tell you how much attention I got for women once my muscles came in. When I online dated I literally went from 1-3 matches a week to a multiple matches a day. People talked to me different. Women approached me differently at work and when I went out socially.

    And it’s not just the women, but men too. Men will come talk to you, ask you about your routines, your diet, and that will lead in to how you budget your gym time to free time and that will lead into ‘what do you do in your free time’ and then you will have new friends.

    Im not joking. The life I have now in my late 30’s I could have NEVER imagined in my 20’s.

    5-6 hours a week in a gym, that’s it. Once you see how differently you are treated your shyness will disappear. Your ego will inflate, your confidence will grow like crazy

  5. I read one of those how to be social and make friends books in my early 20’s, one of the better ones. The thing that made the biggest impact on me was the chapter on emotional intelligence. It changed the way I viewed social interactions with people. Instead of worry about what to say to people I started thinking about what did I want to know about this person or what do I think this person would like to talk about? Then I challenged myself to to try to keep conversations going with people instead of letting them die after a simple greeting or exchange of information. You learn two things really quickly doing this. People don’t bite, usually, and an akward interaction with someone won’t kill you or them. 2nd, you have the power to make people’s day a little bit better just by being that one person that hears they’re little rant about the weather or their favorite show. I’m a lot more confident now becuase I have gotten a lot more smiles, laughs, and personal conversations from people since speaking more. Positive social experiences is definitely a cure and doing the work get more of them is a good strategy.

  6. I was extremely socially anxious, I went on a long trip by myself which forced me to socialize.

    It improve me a bunch and while I am still a little anxious here and there I feel like a normal person.

  7. Wasn’t really shy in my 20s but was practically mute in school. I just forced myself to get out of my comfort zone. Also university and then work meant I had to learn to socialise more and I had some customer service roles so I had to learn to interact with people and develop a thicker skin. But this was just shyness, anxiety is a whole different beast and something you need professional help with so good luck ☺️

  8. Stop thinking of failure as bad. You learn far more from failing than succeeding.

    Practice putting yourself out there with the expectation that people won’t like you, but be prepared for the occasional time that they do, and then ask to hang around those people more often.

    Forgive your past. This is a huge step. You have gone through life learning some of the wrong lessons with incorrect information. This wasn’t your fault, but it is your responsibility to learn the right lessons now that you’re older, and to try and unlearn bad habits.

    I was so unsure of myself at your age, and now I’m very happy and have some wonderful friends. Learning to love yourself, flaws and all, while still trying to be a better person is a good path to happiness.

  9. Not exactly my situation. I will shine sexually anxious growing up but now not so much. Honestly I think alcohol help with that. When I get drunk I get more talkative and I found that I’ve done more comfortable with talking people even sober now.

  10. In my personal experience social anxiety is heavily dependent on how much you care about what others think of you. I had that.

    I’m an introvert. This was a result of me learning different languages in a country where many people are monolingual. The more I learned the more I was introduced to different cultures. In time I became a bit of an outcast with my different interests. Since I had different interests it was hard for me to connect to people around me through mutual interest.

    Because of this I even continued to participate in some relationships I knew to be toxic where people were using me since I didn’t want to be alone.

    Then I had some changes in my life during college. I started maturing and realized being alone wasn’t the end of the world. I came to realize I enjoyed solitude even more at times. The more I realized my self worth and chances of survival without other people easier it became for me to tell people to fuck off when they were being assholes.

    I realized that most people aren’t as good as I gave them credit for. So it became easier for me to approach social situations without being anxious about them. It also became apparent that the less anxious you are the easier it gets for your social interactions to be successful.

    You just have to teach yourself to stop caring too much. There are billions of people in the world. The person you’re approaching is just one of them. Who cares if they don’t like you.

    If you’re having trouble getting in that mindset find an anchor. A hobby you love doing. Something you can do alone. Something you truly enjoy. Find an online group such as a public discord server where you can join casual conversation. It can help you practice without worrying about your looks your speech pattern etc.

    Focus on your positive qualities at times. See that you’re not an unlikable douche just a bit anxious. Seeing that you can enjoy yourself without being dependent on others will help you through exploring yourself. In the meantime maintaining casual social interaction will be a good place to practice.

    Best of luck.

  11. Don’t think, just do? I don’t know?

    Had a friend describe me as confident when I’m the furthest thing from it. I constantly think people are annoyed by me and would never hangout with me due to me seeing myself as boring.

    But if you saw me in person it would never appear that way as I just do my own thing and say what I will and panic later.

  12. Accept the worst parts of yourself. Recognize them as your own decisions. Get help understanding why you made those decisions. Change the behavior for yourself or not at all. Repeat until you wake up confident on accident.

  13. Eat healthy, work out and plan big events that you look forward to at least once or twice a year.

    In terms of confidence you have to realize one thing; your stock is only going to go up as time goes on. If you take care of yourself physically and emotionally you are going to be shocked how much better your life will get. Changes take time, never forget that.

  14. You literally gotta put yourself out there and keep trying. You’re gonna make an ass out of yourself and there’s gonna be a lot of awkwardness, but eventually you start to build competency. Socializing is a skill, and like any skill, you gotta stress test it to get better.

  15. I was shy in my earlier teens but meditation and practices like that can help you calm yourselves down when you get tense. Also have something to be confident in, you can achieve this in many ways. Pick up an instrument, hike, lift, etc. Finding a hobby you enjoy and getting good at it helps a lot.

  16. 1. Experience. It helps you become more comfortable. Be patient with yourself and accept small victories, like making small talk with a store employee.
    2. Do not accept your internal critic. Use logic against the negative voice that says you’ll embarrass yourself, they won’t like you, etc. 99.99% of social interactions are insignificant and forgettable; there’s power in that because you realise you’re anxious about something that doesn’t matter at all.
    3. Fake it til you make it. Act more confident and it will slowly grow naturally. It works.
    4. Use positive reinforcement. What’s good about you? Make a list and remind yourself of it often.
    5. Understand that nice people will be nice to you, so there’s really nothing to fear. If they aren’t nice to you, it isn’t your fault. Either they’re not a nice person whose opinion matters or they’re in a bad place.

  17. Lost weight and fixed my teeth. Losing weight revealed that I was actually attractive af and that just gave me a boost. Before the weight loss I was crushing it career wise and that started me feeling a little more confident.

  18. Practiced public speaking. Took a drama class where we performed daily. Found myself in a job where I had to raise my voice and command a room. Went back to school where presentations to audiences were an every day thing. Just lots of practice.

    Also, get fit. People treat you better when you’re fit. The world is less hostile.

  19. Hey bro, happy to answer this as I’m at a very good place in terms of self esteem.

    The thing that helped me the most was putting myself out of my comfort zone repeatedly and having the self awareness to know the things that I needed to improve. Forgiving myself when I regressed, and resolving to keep pushing forward for incremental gains.

    For example, I left my country for the US all alone when I was a teenager for college. I was thrust in a social environment where I was awkward as fuck because I was very introverted and couldn’t decipher american social culture at all. Now I feel pretty comfortable in my skin and love meeting new people.

    I went on a solo trip last year and stayed at a hostel, and just chatted up and went out with random people because I knew that even if I bombed, I would never see these people again.

    Ultimately, you will just have to put yourself out there. No one else is going to do it for you. So just suck it up a little and fail and then fail again. Good luck, you got this 🙂

  20. “The courage to be disliked” go and read / listen to that book. I usually don’t like self-help books, but this one is an exception. It’s about Adlerian Psychology and it changed my outlook on life drastically.

  21. Going to give lots of bad answers but here goes

    Decided my speaking skills suck so took on public speaking classes with small groups to practice, lucky this was in small setting with people who shared similar ordeal, went many times, found it easy to talk well when your very passionate about a topic subject you really enjoy

    Got tired of violence, hostility, threats from other guys acting like a.. holes took up boxing, guns, other areas training which won’t discuss to better deal with crap. In short learning how to fight back can give you confidence in some ways to.

    Went to comedy clubs, found other people who enjoy similar comedians as me were fun to talk with.

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