Growing up a jw has made me some what socially awkward. I would often push people away due to my weird traits. This was made worse by surrounding myself with certain people within the congregation who didn't have my best interest at heart, who now I know where trying to bring me down, this has invoked in me trust issues with people I meet. The thing is I like to talk and interact with people. Hate to play the violin here but I have really little to no real friends in the "truth". Even though for a time it felt like I had loads during my teenage years, there was literally an army of us how times have changed. My question is has anyone here had similar issues and what did you do to overcome them?
Yes, I think many of us have these issues. I think it's partially due to that fact that being in a high control religion makes social interactions very different. You are in a group that all believes the same things and conforms to the same schedule of meetings and field service. It means it's quite easy to have many acquaintes, but sometimes harder to find real friends. It also means you cannot be your true and honest self if that self deviates in any way from the expected.
Of course we are all unique individuals, but it can mean we don't quite know how to interact with those outside the organization, especially when we first leave. This is compounded if you have a more introverted nature.
The solution is to just get on with it, the more you do it the easier it gets. Social awkwardness usually stems from being very self aware and being afraid that others will judge you. The more you worry, the more you are likely to do something wrong, which just makes things worse. Somebody once said that you shouldn't really care what people think about you, because they aren't really thinking about you that much. Most people just think about themselves mostly. The huge social blunder that seems so huge to you is probably just a minor blip to everyone else, by the next day they won't remember it.
It does get easier as you get older and are exposed to more social situations and different people. People do like to talk about themselves, so asking questions (nothing to personal though) is always a good strategy and takes the focus off of you. When all else fails, talk about the weather.
I have been socially awkward since childhood, before I became a JW. The Witnesses made me worse. I was lucky to have a friend who was not a JW who listened to my tale of woe after my disfellowshipping. The JW friend that I had abandoned me before a judicial committee was formed.
I see my problem as a combination of innate personality and the negative effects of growing up as a JW during the formative years of my adolescence. As to overcoming them I have yet to do that fully. Working with people in retail stores helped me to socialize my self and practice my communicative skills but that depends on the type of work that you have.
tamagotchi - "...there was literally an army of us..."
I have to say; I've been wondering more and more lately if the number of XJWs is starting to exceed the number of active JWs.
Tamagotchi...you're playing my song. I enjoy people for the most part and they seem to enjoy me but I have to try so hard to be "normal" and hide the little quirks I realize I need to overcome. I realize that my JW upbringing has stunted me in terms of making friends from scratch and knowing how to handle myself in certain situations. I've had to learn not to be so judgemental, not to assume things about people, label people or expect myself or others to be so perfect. I also have to remember that I'm not responsible for saving anyone, having answers to all the big picture universal questions or proving things to people or defending my beliefs and understandings. Looking back, all of that came from being a JW. Having the idea drummed into your head since childhood that the whole world is broken and that mankind as a whole is flawed and unredeemable, is bound to do a number on ones psyche. Always having to evaluate everything and everyone through a strict and often unattainable set of standards and cramming myself into a mold that someone else carved out for me...not to mention the shame and guilt I had to carry around for not quite "getting" what everyone else seemed to believe in so wholeheartedly about the so-called "truth". The "unity" they strove for, homogenized and stunted me to the point that I often don't know how I really feel or what I really think. Sometimes I surprise myself with the odd little reactions I have to things, that seem to come out of nowhere but then I realize that I'm trying to use a JW induced thought processes that often don't work in the real world.
The thing that has helped me is reading books on the topic of conversation and making friends, observing what those who seem to attract others, do and having a few pre thought out answers, phrases, stories, jokes or topics that I can fall back on when I'm not sure what to do or say. Overcoming "learned" behavior that has taken place over one's lifetime, can't be done overnight but it can get better.
The good news is that you realize there may be a need for improvement and that puts you way ahead of the game. I suspect, like me, you are probably not as noticeably bad off in this regard, as you may feel you are.