Making Friends in College as an Introvert

College is a life-altering experience for most who attend.  It is an important time when a young person begins to identify who he or she is and to make specific plans for the career that he or she will pursue.  It is also a time for making friendships; some of which will last for the rest of a person’s life.  It is often the relationships that a person develops in college that lead to long-time friendships and in some cases a wife or a husband.  For some, extroverts, making friends is merely a process of allowing their natural temperament to be released.  But what about those who are more introverted?  Introverts can still make friends, even lasting friends, in college, but these must follow a specific plan that differs from more extroverted people.

 Introverted people must first accept that there is nothing wrong with them.  Extroverts, by nature, are more vocal, so it can seem as though most people are extroverted.  The truth is that being introverted is not nearly as rare as it may seem and in fact can be an important quality that others appreciate.  Introverted people tend to be good listeners; a quality that is greatly appreciated by many.  In addition, introverted people are less likely to attempt to impose their desires or points of view on others.  Introverted people are generally more thoughtful and when they do speak it is usually worth listening to.  Being an introvert is not a negative when it comes to making friends and in fact may in many cases be a quality that another is looking for.

 Introverts generally do better in one-on-one situations or small groups of people.  While extroverts will gravitate to large party situations, introverts feel more comfortable in more selected company.  The college experience is a varied one and there are many opportunities to choose the atmosphere that best fits a person’s approach to life.  Part of going to college involves a person separating his or her wishes from those of the surrounding crowd.  Becoming a distinct individual, not part of a family or a school class, involves choosing who to be around, what to do, and how to live.  This process can at times feel overwhelming, but it is a normal part of the transition to adulthood.

 A great way for an introvert to make friends is to notice those people who are in his or her classes.  Having a similar interest, being on a similar learning track, is a good way of breaking the ice and opening up an opportunity to develop a friendship.  Particularly as a student begins to take more and more classes that are specifically designated toward his or her major, there will normally be at least a few people that will stand out and to whom a natural affinity can develop.  An invitation to work on a particular assignment can be a non-threatening way to get to know another person.  Often introverts struggle with introducing topics of conversation and so having a shared topic, such as a class assignment, is a great way to get to know another person without unnecessary pressure.

 In addition to a person’s classes, there are always advertisements on common bulletin boards for various clubs.  A club provides a comfortable atmosphere with a group of people with a shared interest.  This shared interest helps to break down barriers and create opportunity for friendships to develop.  The introverted person should feel free to carefully investigate a particular club possibility and not feel pressure to stay in a situation where he or she is not comfortable.  It may take a few tries to find a club situation that matches the introverts comfort level, but the time and effort will definitely pay off in the long run.  Finding a group of people with shared interests will help open up a number of experiences that can be shared with a close group of friends.

 An introvert should not assume that he or she cannot find friends in larger group situation.  Finding the courage to go up to someone and make a simple introduction has the potential to create a friendship.  Part of personal growth is taking risks and this involves stepping outside one’s comfort zone.  This should be done in specific steps and not in a way that risks trauma.  A person with an introverted personality does not have to become an extrovert in order to become a person who interacts comfortably with others, is a good conversationalist, and is someone who has a large number of friends.  Each individual is unique and by simply expressing the person that he or she is, a person can attract others who are drawn to a specific type of personality and out of that attraction many friendships can develop.

 Being an introvert is one type along a broad range of the human personality.  An introverted person carries with him or her a specific set of traits that are attractive to many people.  By being intentional about a process of meeting others in comfortable situations where there is a high common affinity, an introverted person can develop high-quality friendships.  Having the confidence that comes from the assurance that being introverted is a good thing will come across as the introverted person communicates who he or she is with others.  A willingness to take appropriate risks in larger groups also has the potential to create lasting friendships.  Introverts are wonderful people with many good qualities and college is a place where they can encounter new people and find lasting friends in the process.