Social Skills: What I Wish School Taught Me

A social studies classroom.

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One could look at me and wonder, if you’re truly that introverted, how could you ever be married or have dated for that matter?  Well the answer to that is I’m still human and intimate relationships is a part of everyone’s life, whether you have to buy dolls, toys, or go for the real thing (I just chose going, or waiting for the real thing).  But here’s something about me most people who know me don’t realize: in the past, if it were left up to me, I would never have experienced intimate relationships with the opposite sex. I wouldn’t have even had friendships for that matter.  My thoughts were, if a guy wants me he’ll make a way to come get me and friendships always sort of fell into place.  But here’s where the shock of my life came; for reasons I still cannot understand, all the above changed when I saw my husband.  For the first time in my life I saw something I wanted and I went after it (which is why he tells everyone I stalked him, so not true).  The funny thing is, for the first time in my life I had it bad for something and I prepared to position myself for as long at it took to make a way for him and I meet (That sound like stalking? Maybe).  I have no idea why I felt that way, but I did.  When I initiated our conversation, I wasn’t scared, not even nervous.  For the first time in my socially awkward life, I made a decision to risk social embarrassment and rejection.  But enough about my so-called love life, let’s get to the real reason for this post.  Why a quiet person like myself initially decided to leave my social future up to chance opposed to acquired knowledge of social skills and proper socialization.

I’m not saying introversion is bad.  There are perks to keeping to yourself, but not when your mind has one agenda and your personality has another.  At times I feel like I’m in a personal war with what my personality prefers, staying away from people and having a me, myself, and I party; and what my mind wants which is to have friends to call on the phone, people to meet, and places to meet them.  I’m not saying I prefer being the superstar or Ms. popular.  I just want influence in the world, with some good friends who also have influence.  But I know my journey of influence starts with my level of social skills.  I realized a long time ago, I cannot have what I want living in a world with no one but me.  But unfortunately, I was left on my own to figure out how to go about getting what I want living in the world of everyone else.

Three years ago, time was drawing near for my son to start Kindergarten.  I had no idea where I wanted him to attend.  The quality of the school was definitely important but I was more concerned about his socialization, especially going to an inner city school and him being an only child.  I’ve always been concerned with him knowing how to connect with people and reach out for positive relationships.  Unlike myself, he sits back for a short time before jumping into a social situation.  I’ll sit back the whole time, just watching and waiting.  Needless to say, because of my lack of proper social skills, I thought home schooling was better for him, but my husband thought he could use the social environment.  A flashback of that conversation brought me to my most recent thoughts, the difference between what I learned in school and what I probably would have benefited from learning.

As I began meeting new people with the recent start of my home business and desiring to meet more new people who have influence, I realized I have a long way to go in the social world.  Then the question came.  Why didn’t any school I attended teach us the how of relationships, not the why or the history of relationships?  That’s not to say the why or history isn’t important.  Understanding where a person’s character comes from can go a long way with relationships, but the why is not enough for people like me.  I can’t help but think how much different my life would have been had someone taken me by the hand and showed me how to survive in society despite what I viewed as my personality quirks.  The funny thing is, aside from when I met my husband, the ability to just open up to people became more and more difficult.  Each year of my life I shrunk more and more until I realized I was getting to the point where I would never have a life of purpose if I didn’t make some changes to the way I connected with people.  The problem was, I wasn’t connecting at all.  I had no idea where to begin socially or how to step into a situation without leaving unnoticed.

Socialization should not be about throwing a person into a situation and allowing them to feel around for comfort.  I know that’s how I’ve allowed my son to figure things out his first eight years, but as long as I’m his mother, that’ s not how he will learn to lead the rest of his life.  Socialization should be about instilling from youth the confidence of stepping into any situation and thriving.  I would rather have taken a course teaching me how to relate to others, how to lead in

situations, proper communication and listening, than courses that taught me things I don’t remember.  To this day nothing from social studies stayed with me, nothing that mattered or had an effect on my personal growth and achievement anyway.  What did stick out to me are all the awkward times I had during school time, the unease of starting a new school every few years, and how I ran from situations of socializing because I didn’t know how to effectively communicate.  Fortunately though, all hope is not lost.  After all my wasted years of schooling, I’m now finding various sources to learn how to evolve into a more socially effective person.

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