How To Overcome Shyness In College

April 18, 2016

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Here I was, the quiet and introverted small town girl, leaving home for the first time ever to head to a far away land. I was alone. Completely alone and didn’t know a soul. Besides that, I had never had a large groups of friends before in high school. I stayed pretty close to home and pretty close to them. So leaving was a big decision and a big change of pace. I would have to overcome my fear of meeting new people and giving off my “shy” vibes.

I hated the Welcome Weekend to be honest. They forced me into ice breakers and name games, both things I typically avoided at all costs. I don’t find it comfortable or logical to meet people in such a forced manner. Friendship would happen naturally, and connections on a deeper level took more time than stating your major and where you’re from.

But here’s some tips on how to get past shyness in college (mostly after Welcome Weekend):

Join A Club

Okay, Ill admit it, I signed up for way too many clubs at the beginning of the year. They had rows and rows of tables giving away free stuff and all I had to do was write down my email. Sounds good right? Wrong. Now I have to ask  to be taken off email lists or send them all straight to spam every week. So focus on a club you will put time into, that truly interests you, and realize that you have something in common with every person in the room with you. Sit by someone you don’t know (and who looks to be alone even), and I mean sit right next to them, that way you at least are almost forced to greet them. Then, you can introduce yourself, ask them about their major, and why they like the club. You aren’t going to make friends with everyone you meet and you probably won’t talk to them after that meeting, but ever now and then you’ll find someone you connect with. Then, next time you know a familiar face.

Go With A Group

At the beginning of the year, halls typically go out to eat together or spend time together bonding. You might not be close with anyone in your hall, that is perfectly okay, neither am I. But I was able to go on a few hikes with people I didn’t know at all. It sounds nerve-wracking and it was. You have to realize that on a hike you’re busy. You’re moving around constantly and you don’t always have to talk, look for an activity that you can alone but also engage with other people if you want. I stuck to a smaller group as the hike moved on, and occasionally would nod my head at something someone said, and eventually get a sentence in. It doesn’t have to be full blown conversations or exchanging phone numbers, but I actually learned their names as time went on. Soon enough, we had planned to eat together later that week. In the start of the year, everyone is meeting new people and getting into a groove, they are probably in the same boat as you when it comes to making friends.

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Make A Friend In Each Class

This is definitely a hard one for me. When I’m in 200+ people lectures, I’m just trying to zone out everyone else and get the notes down. I’m not trying to make conversation, I need to focus. But take a few minutes to get there early if you can or sit by someone new each class. I know this is not going to happen for all of us, and sometimes we just plain don’t feel like talking at 8 am, but having someone there with you makes it seem a lot more bearable. Plus, they keep you accountable for focusing on the lecture since you don’t want to distract them when Pinterest is up on your computer screen instead of the lecture notes. Labs are a great place to get to know people as well–I mean you are stuck with them for three hours straight, its in your best interest to work together and have fun while doing it.

Just Do It

Just say hi. Just tell that girl you like her shirt. Just sit near that cute boy at the student center. What is the worst case scenario? You feel embarrassed for five minutes and never see them again. Okay, maybe you’ll see them every now and then (even my larger campus feels extremely small) but who cares? You need to get used to putting yourself out there and feeling uncomfortable is natural actually. That person you say hi to may be shy as well and just waiting for someone like you to start conversation. They might be an awesome conversationist but can never show it because they don’t step up and introduce themselves. It can feel and be awkward at times, but don’t let that stop you from trying to build relationships with people.

Look For Social Events

Social events? You mean go there by myself? Yes I do. I know this sounds crazy, and sometimes I think I am, but going to a basketball game by myself isn’t all bad. I’ll be honest, I chicken out sometimes and sit by myself, but if I really want to try and meet new people I will head down to the student section. At least I am part of a group and I know I have two things in common with these people:

  1. We are here to cheer on and support our school. High fives all around and wearing school colors makes you a part of something bigger, even if you still are high-fiving yourself.
  2. They have some interest in this sport, or sports in general. I choose basketball because I like watching the game. Maybe that person does too, or is here because there friends dragged them along. Either way, you can ask about it if you feel brave and maybe a conversation will spark.

Go get out there.

Be Confident and Love Yourself

This is probably the most important point to keep in mind. Somewhere along the line of lonely nights, anxiety attack-filled weeks, and the occasional bad test score, my self esteem has sky-rocketed. I have had more bumps in the road than I can count, and feeling alone made it that much harder. Try keeping your old friends close too, you never know what is going on with their lives and we all are fighting our own battles. Once you feel confident, nothing keeps you back from doing what you want. It makes it easier to be you and feel at peace with yourself. If you can love yourself, you can do whatever you put your mind to. You won’t be so nervous when meeting new people, you’ll be aware of how worthy you are, and be able to know when to walk away. You come first.

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College is stressful and so is making friends. I don’t have very many here at school, and that is okay, as long as I keep reaching out to new people. I have broadened my horizons in so many ways since I left home. Sometimes you realize that the people you were friends at the beginning of the year might not be there four years down the road, that is completely normal. The more you learn about each other, the more you might realize that you don’t connect very well. Making life long friends can’t and won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Don’t worry about it. This is for all the quiet kids out there, you are brave, and you can overcome your shyness in college. I’m here cheering you on.

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