I'm not going to lie, making friends is hard. I'm not talking about a person you would only say hi to when you pass them by on the streets. I'm talking about a person you would sit down and have lunch with.
Now, I wouldn't classify myself as being anti-social because it's definitely dependent on the setting that I'm in. When I'm in a classroom with people I don't know, I usually wouldn't be the first person who would say hello or ask for your name. When I'm with my friend's friends, it's easier for me to hold a conversation, but they would still know each other more than I would know them.
A large part of me is afraid of what people may think of me, as I'm sure many of us are despite not always being aware of it. I'm always dreading awkward silence if I'm unable to carry on the conversation, and a lot of the time, it's me asking people a bunch of questions about themselves because I don't want to run out of things to say. Usually, I try to add to their responses by sharing my experiences or point of view. I want talking to others to feel natural and not forced, and it's still something that I'm working on and have gotten better at.
Of course, people's perceptions of me can still affect me, but I know not to overthink it anymore. I've learned to let loose a little bit and just let the conversation flow. While there are and will be many times in my life where I will be talking to people who I don't know, I don't always have to pre-plan what to say. I've also come to notice that if you show others kindness and respect, even if you don't know them, you'll have an easier time interacting with them because they'll notice that and reciprocate for the most part.
I've always admired people who are naturally social and those who thrive around new people. Maybe it was innate for them or perhaps, it just takes time and patience.