Life can seem very difficult for introverts. Constantly concerned about what others are thinking and anxious not to do anything that puts them in the limelight, it can be very hard to take the initiative to make new friends at college. However, by following some basic steps, introverts can soon build up a firm group of friends.
Be friendly in response to others
There will always be a confident few who will steal the limelight. This can be very intimidating if you are the shy, retiring type. However, if you don’t respond in a pleasant manner the first time they greet you, they are unlikely to want to try again-after all, there are lots of other people for them to meet. You don’t have to have a whole conversation with them if you don’t want to; just smile in response and ask them a little bit about themselves. Once you have broken the ice, the second time you meet them will be a bit easier. Even if you don’t end up being close friends, it will show others that you are not as stand-offish as you may first appear.
Strike up a conversation
It can be exceptionally hard to initiate a conversation if you are an introvert. But unless you plan to shut yourself away for the rest of your life, you need to make an effort occasionally. Look for someone who is also on his or her own, or take the plunge and knock on your neighbour’s door. Introduce yourself and ask a few simple questions to show that you are interested. The chances are that he or she is also shy and is just waiting for someone to make the first approach. Don’t sit around and wait for someone to make contact with you or you could be spending your first few weeks at college on your own.
Join a club
The first week of your college experience will usually be spent finding your way around and looking at the opportunities available. There will undoubtedly be clubs and societies that you can join. As an introvert, a team sport or drama club may be the last thing you want to do. However, there are plenty of other ideas-you could try yoga, rambling, mah-jong or chess, for example. You will still get to meet new people, but you won’t be forced to do anything that makes you stand out. As you make one or two friends, you may be encouraged to try something else that takes you further out of your comfort zone.
Follow up on contacts
Unless you are going to college a very long way from home, you will probably know of someone who is going to the same college. Even if he or she isn’t really the sort of person likely to become a friend, arrange to meet up for a coffee during your first few days at college just to share experiences. He or she may introduce you to other people with whom you have more in common. If you don’t already know someone going to the same college, ask your family and friends to see if they know of anyone and get them to introduce you. Knowing that you know someone with a link to home that you can call on when feeling low can be very comforting if you are an introvert.
Take something to class to share
Generosity is always appreciated and remembered. Try taking something with you to share in class. It could be a packet of sweets or biscuits, or, if you can cook, a cake. Remember to take napkins if it is something sticky and make sure that you offer it to everyone, not just those in your immediate vicinity. This will encourage you to interact with others and will show that you are more than willing to make friends.
Don’t beat yourself up
It is very easy to become angry and frustrated at your apparent inability to make friends, especially if everyone around you appears to have made a set of friends already. However, if you are too hard on yourself and think you are useless, you will find yourself withdrawing from others and will probably seem sullen and unfriendly. By all means, have some time to yourself if you need it, but then get out there and try again. You will make friends; it may just take a little longer than everyone else.
Making friends at college can be a painful experience if you are shy and low in confidence. However, with a little time and effort, you should be able to build up a circle of friends that will last you a lifetime.