Things I learned in 2017, part 3: social life

This year I didn’t spend very much time on (new) personal projects, but I had a crazy growth in my professional and personal development, so I thought I’d write about that.

It became a very long post, so I’ve divided it up into a trilogy. Read part 1 and part 2 here. Today, we’re looking at social life:

Social skills might depend on the people you surround yourself with.

I’ve never considered myself as a shining example of being socially fluent, but I didn’t realize why that was until recently.

At Yoast we have a lot of different people with different backgrounds and different personalities. I find myself drawn to the more social ones, the ones with an explicit personality, and find that I become quite extrovert around them. Years ago I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.

That made me realize that maybe the reason I thought I was socially awkward was because I surrounded myself with people that were socially awkward. I was submerged in geek culture for years, so my exposure to different kinds of personalities was fairly limited. I’m catching up now.

An added benefit of having a bigger catalogue of personalities too is that I can recognize more easily when I don’t vibe with someone, and don’t have to feel bad about that anymore.

This might explain why much of my work is about people, it’s basically an excuse to investigate new and different personalities.

Energy is so important.

Being social also requires energy though. If I don’t sleep well or am struggling with something in my head, I’m not exactly open to conversation. I’ve become good at noticing this now, and when I do I try to communicate that to those around me as well. This way I don’t find it as frustrating anymore when I am in a low energy mood, and I know how to improve it.

I (generally) get along better with women.

This may have to do with the above – women are generally more open about their feelings, have more interest in talking about emotions, and are more perceptive about non-verbal communication. I find I can simply have more honest and low-effort conversations with them than I do with most of the guys I know.

Voicing opinions is good.

I’m learning this time and again. I’m comfortable in going with the flow (except when I really don’t want to), but I still may have a opinions or feeling about someone or something that I don’t find necessary to express. But I often forget that if I don’t express those, others won’t know. Observing a friend who is very open with their feelings made me realize this. I’m learning to also express my feelings even when it’s not necessary.

You meet your greatest friends after you’re 30.

Someone once told me this, and I thought “I’ll wait and see.”

I was never someone who needed very many friends. Those that I’ve accumulated over the years, I love like family. But it’s not like I talk to them every day. We’re not necessarily on the same level, personally or creatively. I’m very lucky that my girlfriend is one of the few exceptions. But in the past year, I’ve made some friends that get me. We speak the same language, we make the same jokes, we can discuss feelings, and we are all intensely creative in our own ways. It’s been great to both work with them and goof around with them (sometimes simultaneously).

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