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Perhaps the following scenario describes you. You’re at a party and you remember that you detest small talk. You have a tinge of social anxiety. You’re totally done with getting locked into a conversation with one person in the corner and saying, “Well, I’m gonna get some more chips” when you run out of things to say.
You actually want to get to know people in a meaningful way, but without seeming intense or scaring them off.
I’ve been there. I’ve been there and then even past there, to the point where I’ve blocked out a good portion of social gathering experiences for the past decade or two. Sometimes, I actually forget how to talk to people. Don’t be like me.
Use these ice breakers where applicable.
1. If you could become best friends with a cartoon character, who would it be and why?
2. What age(s) do you feel? Example: I toggle between feeling 12, 57, or 80 years of age, but never my actual age.
3. George Costanza wanted to drape himself in velvet if it were socially acceptable. If you could wear an outfit every day without judgment from anyone, what would it look like? Points for specificity.
4. Do you have any personal experience with natural disasters?
5. What is the strangest but also the most true thing anyone has said about you? Example: My friend got his finger caught in an automatic car window and it immediately swelled up. He said, “Claire, this is hurting you more than it’s hurting me right now.”
6. If you owned a food truck, what would you serve? Bonus round: Do you know what you’d call the food truck? (If there are puns involved in the name, we should probably be friends.)
7. What is the most embarrassing extracurricular activity you’ve ever participated in?
8. Who would you ask to narrate your audiobook if money were not an obstacle? (Can we please just talk about Ving Rhames’ Arby’s voice for a second? Listening to him speak is how I self-soothe).
9. What song must you belt out in the car by yourself? Rapping totally counts if you’re not much of a singer.
10. My friend used to insist on tucking his coat into his sweatpants in elementary school. My top and bottom had to share at least one color or they technically didn’t match. Are there any interesting style rules or choices from your past?
Consider these questions your oddly-shaped rafts in the tempest that is social interaction. Onboard them in when necessary. And know that others have probably felt whatever it is you’re feeling, many times over [raises hand].
And hey, at least uncomfortable situations make for good stories to tell the next time around.