I might even be extroverted to a fault, relying on socializing to energize me. I’ve always loved first dates—with the exception of the date, of course, to which I wore a Gap pocket T tucked into paisley shorts and high white socks with boat shoes.During the storytelling game, I couldn’t wait to jump in. (I know that my early ‘90s fashion statement bears no relevance to my point, but as an extrovert, I had to get it off my chest.) It’s inaccurate to say that everyone is socially anxious.He never intended to get so involved with the socially anxious, but when he started coaching in New York City (he had moved from California to attend Columbia University, realized his scholarship wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and needed extra cash), those were the clients who found him.“They were the ones no one else wanted to work with,” he says.“When I get nervous,” says a young woman named Rebecca, “I shut down.I go blank.” She sits in a circle of 20 in a dance studio on the west side of Manhattan.Tonight’s class is billed as a general social skills workshop, but when Luna asks the group, “How many of you want to use these skills to improve your dating life? Luna splits the group into pairs and teaches them a mirroring exercise: Partner 2 should imitate the body language of Partner 1. Although some ones infer that they should gesture naturally as they talk and let the twos follow, others are less suave: One pair stands staring at each other, each touching his own ears.
He chooses two people to stand in the middle of the circle and tells them to keep both hands on each other at all times. But whereas two hours ago people weren’t laughing at all, or they were covering their mouths and lowering their heads, now everyone howls as the people in the middle of the circle find creative ways to make contact.
(Later, I look up Triforce and learn that it’s a Zelda symbol that represents wisdom, power, and courage.) Someone confesses his shame about the scars on his body. Only one person, who told us during introductions that his stutter causes him acute anxiety, refuses to participate. Since I reached out to Luna about writing this story, he’s told me several times that “everyone is socially anxious.” I guess what he means is that everyone is socially anxious to varying degrees.
Of course, I have memories of painful shyness from my youth, including my first-ever date, when a boy and I convened at a movie theater, bought tickets, watched .
I imagine that man at a party, talking to a stranger, blowing his nose if the stranger blows his nose, scratching his crotch to build rapport with a crotch-scratcher. A few minutes into the exercise, throughout the room, ones and twos stand smiling at one other, their bodies less tense, their conversations less stilted. Still, a ripple of terror moves through the room when Luna announces the next exercise: tag-team storytelling. “As soon as I say something that makes you think of something else,” he says, “yell, ‘Freeze!
Some shake their heads and back away from the circle. ’ ” The idea is that the person in the middle will rejoin the circle and the person who yelled “Freeze! “Don’t forget to make eye contact with everyone,” Luna adds.