I'm glad you feel more comfortable being yourself! This is a crucial time to embrace it and discard the rest.
I'm a member of a local atheist meetup group (through meetup.com) and we meet at least once a month. I was a newbie atheist the first time I went, and I was soooo nervous! I didn't know anyone either, and I had no idea what it was like.
All meetups have their own way of doing things: some are more organized and have a specific topic or presentation for the night. Some are merely social gatherings for casual conversation and friendship. Each group varies greatly in membership.
I'd recommend messaging another member to casually ask what most meetings are like. Or you could look for testimonials about that group (if it's a meetup.com group, often people review the meetups and comment on what the tone is normally like).
The one thing I can tell you is this: you'll meet a lot of like-minded people who are there specifically for the purpose of being with other atheists! This means they want to meet and know people like you. So even if you're shy, you can greet one person and tell them you're new. In our group, this is often followed by them asking easy questions like how you found the group or what your story is. It's an easy chat opener. Jump into conversations or just listen, it's up to you. If you were coming to our meetup, we'd be thrilled to meet a new person :)
I am in your same exact position. I'm extremely shy around new people as well, and just recently joined Meetup.com and local Rhode Island atheists. I have yet to RSVP "yes" to any meetups, though. That's how shy I am.
Thanks, GG, for your advice. I, too, will do just that.
Just be yourself and try to talk to some people. I've never been to an atheist meetup although I have known dozens of atheists in my life. I'm gonna try to join an atheist/humanist group when I get out of college (or maybe even in college although I'm hella busy).
At our local group meetings (we have two which meet once a month) it's usually just people getting together and chatting about whatever topics come up. Science, history, music, politics, religion, just about every possible topic has come up at one time or another. Religion is one of the more common ones, of course, since a great many of us feel a sense of relief at not having to self-censor ourselves for fear of being outed.
Stories of how one stopped believing or the like are fairly common, particularly if there are a number of new people at the meeting. We usually get between 15 and 30 people showing up, and friendly conversation is the rule of the day.
I am a member of a Humanist Group in Uk. We meets once a month. It is in a cosy room in a pub, so we all meet up for a drink, orange for me, and then we start the meeting with a guest speaker.
After a break we discuss and ask questions.
It is so great that you dont have to be worried about upsetting anyone when discussing atheism. You can just be yourself.
Although of course the conversation can be, very casual and quite varied. The ages range from 16 to 80.
Each meet-up group is different, but I suggest that you just be yourself. I can be pretty quiet at first, but thoroughly enjoyed my first meet-up. I think we had about a dozen people in attendance. We ate, talked about current events and related topics... Pretty much where ever the conversation took us. All us first timers also shared our story of how we came to Atheism. It's a great experience, and I would highly suggest attending.
Because someone is a fellow Atheist, does not mean you will like them. Atheist don't all think a like, were as diverse as any social group. So my advice is to be yourself, if they don't like you, its their problem.