In this counseling answer:
• Improving your social skills is a gradual transformation that takes time, practice, and a little bit of courage.
• Change the way you think of yourself. Stop labeling yourself.
• Talk to people as often as you can; being social and being confident go hand in hand.
• Remember, the people who make jokes about you are probably not judging you, but are just trying to make themselves feel good.
Thank you for writing to us about your concern. We appreciate it. I will try my best to help and advice you, In sha’Allah.
I am happy to hear that you are trying to get out of your comfort zone to practice your social skills. That’s very good! They are called social skills for a reason because that’s exactly what they are: skills. Some people are fortunate enough to develop their social skills at an early age, but most of us are not so lucky.
It is never too late to improve your social skills. This is not easy and doesn’t happen overnight. It is a gradual transformation that takes time, practice, and a little bit of courage.
You mentioned that it is just recently that you have tried to leave your comfort zone, and that some people make fun of you when you talk. For me, it sounds like they are some immature people. Do not pay too much attention to them. Either change the group of people/friends you are surrounded by, or just try to ignore whenever they make jokes about you. Do not take it too personally. If they say, for example, “You are silly”, you can say “I know I am, I don’t care”. This way, you will show them that you are confident and accept yourself for who you are. In sha’Allah, you will see a change in the way they see you as a person, too.
The first thing you have to do is to change the way you think of yourself. Stop labeling yourself as introverted or anti-social. You are none of these things unless you think them first. If you want to be more social, start thinking of yourself as a social person. Once you can do this, only then you can act like a social person.
Talk to people as often as you can. It doesn’t really matter who you talk to or what to say as the point is to start getting out of your comfort zone and into new social situations. At start, you will probably feel forced and somewhat awkward, but the more you force yourself out of your comfort zone, the easier it will become. You will realize that you are in the same kinds of situations again and again, and each time you feel more comfortable and more confident about yourself.
As human beings, we are social creatures. It is in our nature to enjoy being around other people, to seek acceptance, and to want to help others. The only thing that keeps us from doing these things is our fabricated ego.
Being social and being confident go hand in hand. If you struggle with confidence, fake it. You might have heard the saying “fake it till you make it”. Don’t be fake. You can fake your confidence, but do not need to fake who you are and what you believe.
Be more open-minded. Listen to what other people have to say and try to understand their point of view. You don’t have to agree to everything, but you can show understanding. Asking questions is a great way to show that you care what they are saying.
Be friendly. Always say hi to people you know, offer to help in any situation you can, and smile. Smiling is the easiest thing you can do, and it will make you more approachable.
Practice whenever you can. You can pretend to be the most confident when you talk to people you know you will never see again. For example, cashiers, servers, etc. They are probably the easiest to practice with because they literally get paid to be friendly.
Lighten up. There are times to be serious, but most of the time it is okay to get loose. Have fun and stop being scared of what other people think of you. If someone makes jokes about you, instead of getting defensive or nervous, go along with it. Make fun of yourself; don’t take it personally, and then move on.
You are not doing anything wrong, so stop telling yourself otherwise. The people who make jokes about you are probably not judging you, but are just trying to make themselves feel good. Everyone thinks the universe revolves around themselves, so each person is only thinking of themselves. They barely notice anyone else.
It is our own mind playing tricks on us to think other people are directing jokes towards us. Hold your head high and ignore those negative thoughts. But I advise you not to be arrogant and think that you are better than other people as this is strongly disliked by Allah (swt).
“And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” (31:18-19)
I would suggest that you do it in small steps. It takes a lot of courage to break out of your comfort zone. Try to socialize in a small group of people first and people who you feel comfortable with as this will build your confidence and make it easier for you in bigger groups later, In sha’Allah. Don’t be afraid to start slow. Identify your fears, and then face them step by step. Do not stop trying and keep practicing your skills. I am sure you will improve and be more confident about yourself, In sha’ Allah.
May Allah (swt) make it easier for you to achieve your goals.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.