If you’re having a hard time at college because you’re shy or introverted, don’t feel bad and hide in your dorm room all day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that to have the full experience of college, you must join tons of clubs, participate in rush and get inducted into a fraternity or sorority, and party your butt off before graduation — but of course, that’s certainly not the case at all! However, if you do want to break out of your shell and make the most of your college experience while remaining true to who you are, here are some tips:
Join at least one club; preferably a small one, where you won’t feel as though the club is already subdivided into smaller cliques. Don’t join so many clubs that you get overwhelmed — two might be a good number for you. Becoming a member of a club where the other members are interested in the same things as you might help you hold enjoyable conversations and make some friends. Besides, you’ll have somewhere to go after classes instead of going back to your dorm. Those fellow students you meet in clubs could even help you with leads on finding internships and jobs after graduation. It will “enrich your entire college experience.”
If your roommate or suite mates ask you to go somewhere with them, your first impulse may be to refuse and tell them you’d rather sit in your room and relax with a TV show or a book. The next time they ask, get over your initial hesitation and go for it! You never know — you might have a lot of fun and you might meet some new people and get some new experiences. College is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and experimenting with new things. Even if you’ve never done ballroom dancing before and your roommate asks you to go just once, don’t refuse. Take the risk and be yourself. Don’t “strike a pose” or act like someone you’re not.
Try something new that will take you out of your comfort zone. Even if it’s not required you’re your major, take a public speaking or a foreign language course. They’re also great skills to add to your resume, and they can boost your confidence. Your acquired foreign language skills could also help you if you choose to study abroad.Studying a foreign language also “enhances career opportunities and benefits understanding and security in community and society.”
One of the hardest things about the transition to college is how you plan to stay in touch with your family and friends back home. There’s a fine line to walk between calling too often and getting so involved in everything that’s going on that you forget to call. When you’re dealing with your parents, remember the wise words of Middlebury College psychology professor Barbara Hofer: “the complicated dance toward independence creates all sorts of tricky moments for both generations.” Never forget that if you’re having problems or are in the midst of a crisis of confidence, your loved ones can help you keep confident and stay grounded.
It also helps to remember that stereotypes about college are not true for everyone; not everyone is going to miraculously have a ton of friends and get invited to a ton of parties within the first few weeks at campus. Everyone’s journey is different, so there’s no sense in feeling inadequate, jealous, or inferior. You may be in the minority as an introvert, but you can still shine!