What comes into your mind when you think of students? If you live in a university town, you probably think of large groups of youngsters who party hard, downing shots in clubs every night while being loud and extroverted.
If you’re a quiet, shy introvert off to university soon, you might be wondering how on earth you’re going to fit in and not feel like a misfit.
Don’t panic! There will, I promise, be others like you and it’s not like being shy is something to be ashamed of anyway.
But to really get the most out of being at university, you’ll need to make friends, so here are some tips for the shy student to help you.
Do your research
The Freshers Fair at Freshers Week will have all the info you need about clubs and societies you can join but Freshers Week can be overwhelming with all the info, events and free pizza that are thrown at you.
Do your research before you get to university to find out which societies are available for you to join. It’ll give you some comfort knowing there’ll be other people there who share your interests, whether that’s films, fitness or food (other activities that don’t begin with an ‘f’ are available).
Be friendly towards your housemates
Whether you’re in student accommodation in Southampton or a shared house in Huddersfield, there’ll be communal areas such as a living room and/or kitchen where you can all hang out together.
Don’t hide in your room, avoiding the communal areas when they’re in use by your housemates. Walk in, smile, offer whoever’s there a cup of tea/glass of wine and engage in a bit of small talk.
You don’t have to spend all your time with your housemates if you like your own space, but being seen occasionally and smiling will help you come across as someone who’s pleasant, friendly and approachable.
Leave your comfort zone
If staying in your comfy pyjamas seems easier than leaving your comfort zone, that’s because it is.
If you find yourself turning down every invitation from your coursemates and housemates to go out with them, stop.
You don’t have to go to everything but try and force yourself to go out at least once a week. Meeting people and making friends is a big part of going to university and it’ll also boost your confidence.
Fake it till you make it
This piece of advice is scary because it really involves leaving your comfort zone.
But, let’s face it, no one actually knows you’re shy unless you a) make it obvious; or b) tell them.
So, pretend you’re not shy. Pretend you’re full of confidence. Visualise yourself walking into that pub/club/event being loud and extroverted.
Then do it.
No one knows you, so you can choose to be whoever you choose to be. You may find, after a while, that you’re not pretending anymore and that animated, confident person is actually you.
Be kind to yourself
At the end of the day, being shy isn’t an illness or something to be ashamed of. It’s who you are and you’re no better or worse than someone who isn’t shy.
You might feel you’ll never fit in but if you keep talking to people and going to events where there’ll be like minded people, you’ll soon find people you have things in common with and who you’ll want to be around.
Some people like being in large groups of loud people. Others prefer a more sedate time with just one or two people. If that’s you, that’s fine.
However busy you choose to be socially during your time at university, things will settle down and you’ll find your groove. As I said in the beginning though, making friends is a big part of university, so make the effort to get to know people and you’ll find some friends for life.