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“What are some good ways to make friends/meet people as a shy college first year?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Anna Livia Chen as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Anna Livia Says:

Y’all, I definitely identify with this.

I’ve always thought of myself as shy. Even though I got more outgoing throughout high school, I still see myself as a very shy person—especially in new situations. I just started my first year of college, and I was definitely nervous about making new friends, especially since I am not very good at being outgoing with people I don’t know.

The biggest thing that helped me was to reframe it. Rather than thinking, “oh damn, now I have to do something I’m not good at,” I thought of it as, “oh good, this is a chance to push my comfort zone!” Granted, you still have to put yourself in situations that make you feel a little uncomfortable, but hey, isn’t that what college is about? For myself, I knew that if I were to just do what felt comfortable,

I would only talk to a few people—and that even if I did talk to more people, the friendships might not be as deep or authentic as I wanted them to be, because being comfortable too often means refusing to show the vulnerability that leads to strong and wholehearted friendships.

So, instead of just going to my room when had downtime during orientation week, I pushed myself to spend time with the other freshmen in my hall. Instead of only sticking with the extracurricular activities that I did in high school, I joined a club sport (shameless plug: Ultimate Frisbee is the best, you should check it out at your school!). I made small talk with classmates and ate meals with friends of friends.

I’m not going to lie, there were times when I wanted nothing more than to be cuddled up in my bed and watching Lost instead of being social. I kind of dreaded practice for the first few weeks because I was afraid I was going to look like a fool and that no one would like me. There is a reason they call it “stepping outside of your comfort zone,” after all.

But, as is often the case when we are nervous about new situations, everything was a lot scarier in my mind than in reality. My hallmates were hilarious and I had a blast every night that I sacrificed sleep to stay up with them. I still consider these people my core group of friends that I can hang out with or eat with whenevs. My teammates were the most friendly and the most patient with my learning curve and some of my closest friends are the ones who I threw my worst throws to in our first few weeks of Ultimate practice.

All of that being said, don’t be afraid to balance social time with alone time. One of the really daunting things about college that I noticed within the first few days is that you are basically around people all. the. time. You will probably have a roommate your first year, so your room isn’t yours alone. During the day, you are surrounded by people, whether during class, during club meetings, or studying in the library. When you go to eat, you enter a dining hall filled with other hungry humans. Even the bathrooms offer minimal privacy!

Being a self-described shy person does not necessarily mean that you are an introvert… but there is a very good chance that it does (if you don’t take my word for it, you can use this super official resource to check). And this literally means that you need alone time to recharge your batteries. Introverts can 100% be social people (speaking as someone who is EXTREMELY introverted), but you’re not going to enjoy any of your socializing time if it the only way you spend your time. So go for a walk off campus, find a quiet spot under a tree to read a book, or catch up on your Netflix addiction on your own when your roommate is out partying.

IN SUM: Push your comfort zone. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to recharge. Ryan Gosling.

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