Introverts are often a misunderstood lot. We’re sometimes mislabelled as being quiet, standoffish or loners who don’t want to make friends. Sadly, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Broadly speaking, introverts are people who regain their energy from an exhausting day through solitude. They’re not anti-social; rather, too much social interaction drains them of their energy. Neither are they outcasts as society paints them to be, but merely unique!
So, if you’re an introvert who’s about to transition into a new environment such as college, we know that this can be a daunting experience. You’ll have to make friends all over again (as though the first time wasn’t hard enough) and do what you dread doing — socialising.
To make the process easier for you, here are our 7 suggestions on how you can make new friends upon entering college.
#1. Remember that we’re all unique
The first week of college can be rough for introverts. You might feel overwhelmed by your new environment or have trouble making new friends. Conversely, you’ll notice students who can mingle with their new classmates so effortlessly, making you wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”
However, it’s worth remembering that everyone is different. Extroverts, who thrive on social interactions, enjoy being around people and feel energised doing so. Meanwhile, there may be a lucky few who have their secondary school friends enrolling into the same college with them, automatically allowing them to start college with a clique.
If you’re feeling bad about it, remind yourself that you’re not in a terrible situation. Familiar faces can be comforting, but they hinder you from meeting new faces who could make a great impact on your life. After all, meeting new people is among the must-have college experiences to check off your list!
So, the next time you see a group of students mingling with their new coursemates, don’t berate yourself. Everyone goes through life at their own pace, which brings us to our next point.
#2. Don’t rush into friendships
Introverts may take time to warm up to people and come out of their shell, so it’s worth remembering that you can’t rush into friendships. They’ll blossom in their own time.
Attaching yourself to another person or a small group of friends without really knowing them can be painful when you don’t share the same interests or values. The relationship becomes superficial — they might not even be there in your time of need or may “dump” you when they find others whom they can click with.
Remember — good things come to those who wait. You’re not working against the clock to make friends! By taking your time, you’ll get a better perspective of who your college mates are.
#3. Dazzle people with your smile!
While every introvert is different, the one thing that ties us together is the discomfort we feel when approaching someone new. So why not break the ice with a smile?
Research suggests that smiling may help you make new friends. For example, smiling at a classmate while waiting for your next lecture can help them create a positive first impression of you. After all, if you’re in a new environment with no familiar faces to comfort you, a stranger’s smile can warm the soul and make you feel less left out. Similarly, you can start doing the same with others.
For us introverts, smiling is a simple action that we can do to show people that we’re open for a conversation, instead of being closed off or in our own world.
#4. Have lunch with different people each day
One of the biggest dilemmas you might face as an introvert who has just started college is: Who do I tag along for lunch?
You might be tempted to sit by yourself and scroll through Facebook, but Facebook isn’t going to make friends for you. So, it’s vital not to sit alone as it can become a habit.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone (perhaps the person you sit next to in class) if you can join them for lunch. Enjoying your break or meals with friends from different classes allows you to feel the energy of a particular person or a group to see whether you could be an addition to their circle. If you don’t feel like you fit in with them, that’s OK. Just maintain a casual friendship with them.
You’ll never know who you may have a connection with so don’t be afraid to mix it up!
#5. Join a club
One of the best ways you can make friends in college is by joining a club. So explore your interests and take the bold step of signing up, whether it’s the gaming society, the environmental club or even the dance society.
If your college doesn’t have a recreational club that interests you, you can always opt to join a volunteer club. With many dedicated people on board, you might learn a thing or two from carrying out charity programmes while developing your social skills without even realising it. Additionally, working on projects with others can help you develop bonds with others.
Keep an eye out for your college’s clubs and societies fair (which usually happens during the first few weeks of college) to check out the different communities they offer! These societies are usually run by college students themselves, so don’t be afraid to walk by their stand and listen to what they have to offer. It’ll be a fun experience.
#6. Stay connected with your old friends
In the whirlwind of new faces and in trying to foster new friendships in college, it becomes increasingly important not to forget your old friends, including those from secondary school.
Once you start college, it’s easy to lose touch with old classmates, especially when you don’t see them in school or tuition classes anymore. So remember to let them know that you’re still there for them, and vice versa.
Consider creating a WhatsApp or Facebook group chat with them, if you haven’t already. This way, it’s easy to keep each other updated on the latest ongoings in each of your life, and to help ease each other’s transition into college. After all, it’s always nice to get some emotional support from the people who know you best, and the comfort of knowing that you still have them if you ever need a pep talk!
#7. Be excited about starting college!
Many introverts may feel worried and anxious about entering a new environment and experiencing new social situations that they forget to have fun and enjoy the moment.
College may be your first step towards adulthood but you don’t have to be so hard on yourself. Take some time to learn and adapt to your new environment, and don’t worry about making mistakes — it’s part of your learning process.
There’s no need to get worked up on what may or may not happen before you’ve even tried.
While you may dread silly ice breakers or wonder who you’ll partner up with in chemistry class, just know that these things serve to push you out of your comfort zone and help you grow as an individual. College is a time where you’ll have to work on group projects with people you don’t know well. And we’re not gonna lie, you will face difficult group members, but that’s just part and parcel of college life and beyond.
However, take on these new challenges despite your doubts. Regardless of the consequences, learn to roll with the punches. In spite of it all, you’ll often find that these situations are never as bad as you think they’re going to be.
At the end of the day, whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert or something in between, it’s important to be proud of who you are and embrace your uniqueness. After all, if you aren’t comfortable with yourself, how can you expect anyone else to be comfortable with you?
So embrace the challenges that lie ahead, love yourself and go forth and make some new friends.