People have always told me (as I'm sure they've told you, too) that college was the best time of their lives — it's where they learned, thrived, and made lifelong friends . . . and so on and so forth. When I began my college experience, I had a lot of grand plans — most of them based on this notion that I'd suddenly become an outgoing social queen with so many new friends that I wouldn't even know what to do with myself. As it turns out, universities are big places with a lot of people, and, as it also turns out, introversion doesn't go away once you escape the throes of high school.
If you're an introvert too, hi, friend. Here are some tips for navigating the expansive world that is college life without letting your introversion get in the way, but rather allowing it to enhance your experience! Some of these lessons are ones I learned retrospectively and wish I had known during my years as an undergraduate. But you can get them down pat now and truly make the most of your collegiate days.
- First of all, don't try to force the issue. Joining a big, bustling sorority right off the bat may not be the best route. Neither is it a good idea to inundate yourself with tons and tons of clubs and groups. You'll only end up feeling socially burned out.
- Instead . . . figure out your niche. Base your social interactions around your biggest passions. You're much more likely to find people you naturally click with if you share the same major interests. Into cycling? Join that team! Medieval literature more your thing? Find your fellow bookworms!
- Live in the dorms or with roommates. When I was a freshman, I hated the thought of not having any personal space. So, instead of living in the dorms, I lived completely on my own. I earnestly wish I hadn't! You will completely miss out on meeting your peers. Those who live in the dorms develop a kind of bond that you just can't create elsewhere.
- Say yes to study sessions. Midterms and finals seasons are prime times for getting to know other students in your classes. There are always others who will want to get together to review before big tests, and commiserating about your grades is actually really conducive to developing friendships.
- Get a part-time job. If you have the bandwidth for it, working part-time while in college is another pretty much effortless way of meeting and connecting with others. I worked at a local coffee shop when I was in college, and a lot of my co-workers (and even customers!) ended up becoming close friends.
- Spend time on campus. Simply being present in places like the student center or library — as opposed to hiding away in your room — can create so many more opportunities to meet genuine, like-minded people.
- Don't make assumptions. One of my issues during college was that I had these set ideas in my mind of what I liked and what I disliked, what kind of people I got along with and what kind I didn't, etc. It wasn't until my last year of undergrad that I finally dropped my assumptions, tried new things, and said yes to hanging out with people outside my presupposed friend type. Sure, branching out won't always be a huge success. You will no doubt have some bad nights, but I guarantee that you will also learn much more about yourself and what you're legitimately into.