First date advice for introverts

Yes, you have to actually meet!

Shefali O'Hara
4 min readFeb 13, 2020


Photo by Jonathan J. Castellon on Unsplash

I was a painfully shy, geeky child. Being Indian and a girl didn’t help matters when I was in grade school. It’s bad enough being a nerdy boy, but it’s even harder, I think, as a minority girl. I was a social pariah.

I had two, count ’em, two, friends.

It’s not that I didn’t want to interact with people. I just had no idea how. And it didn’t help that my brain never shut off.

Before any social interaction, I’d be rehearsing possible conversational gambits in my head. Afterwards, I’d be analyzing all the stuff I’d done wrong.

Looking back, the problem I had is painfully clear — I was so focused on my own inferiority I didn’t pay attention to the other person. No wonder I missed social cues. I was too inwardly focused.

High school changed things. Partly because I went to a magnet school filled with other nerds. That made the other kids more relatable. Part of it was that I finally decided I’d had enough of being a social outcast, and whatever it took, I was going to change things.

So I confronted my fears. I forced myself to talk to people. I forced myself to make eye contact, to smile. Sometimes I shivered inside from fear, but I did it anyway.

Nowadays, I am still an introvert, but I am no longer socially awkward.

Have I gone on to live happily ever after?

Well, yes and no.

Here’s the thing — I still get tense when I’m at a large party. I still need to limit my exposure to loud crowds and I have coping strategies that I use that allow me to interact in social settings without triggering inappropriate responses.

And there is nothing wrong with any of this.

We all are who we are. We are not created the same and just because you don’t fit the mold of perky blond cheerleader or tall gregarious quarterback does not mean there is anything wrong with you.

At the same time, it also doesn’t give you an excuse for giving up and parking yourself permanently in front of a screen. You are not a hermit crab, you will not thrive if you refuse to leave the comfort of your shell.



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.