The college experience seems to be an extrovert’s dream: mingling, communal living, new classes and an infinite number of new opportunities. For an introvert, this constant socialization is a living nightmare. This isn’t Inception, but with some of these tips, it is possible to take control of this nightmarish experience.
1. Say “yes” to opportunities when asked
As an introvert, you probably don’t go out searching for something to do, so if something comes to you, take advantage of it. It’ll get you out of your room and into activities with other people. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up living out the plot of Yes Man. Wouldn’t it be cool to learn how to fly, travel around the country or even sing “Jumper” to save someone’s life? That would make for an awesome story.
2. Keep your door open
Quite literally, leave the door to your dorm room open. People just walking by will be more likely to stop by, say hi, or want to spend time with you. It’s simple, inviting and so helpful. The only downside is that you have to keep your room clean enough for people to visit. But hey, cleaning your room gives you another excuse to procrastinate, right?
3. Join clubs that interest you…
This sounds pretty simple, but it’s easy to ignore. Go to the first couple club meetings, and you’ll be able to meet people with similar interests. Since you’re hopefully not committing to any long-term marriages, you can always quit and never go back if you don’t want to.
4. …but don’t join everything at once
Signing up for too many clubs and email lists is an easy way to become overwhelmed with massive storms of emails (as if making the effort to join a club wasn’t overwhelming enough). Just sign up for three to five that really catch your eye.
5. Get to know your RA and other upperclassmen
Spending time with your RA is one of the easiest ways to meet more people. It is essentially their job to make you feel comfortable in the dorm. It’s like listening to your grandparents tell you stories of their experiences without the 50 year generational gap .
6. Go to office hours and get to know professors
This one actually is more like listening to your grandparents tell you about their lives. Professors are quite often excited to meet with students and spend time with them, so if a professor you like holds office hours, don’t be afraid to stop in and talk. You never know what opportunities they’ll share with you or what crazy stories they have from teaching.
7. Wear, use and show things that represent your interests
Wearing a shirt or putting stickers on your laptop from your favorite band, team or sport is a quick way for people to identify your interests. If someone shares that interest, they might ask you about it, and maybe that shared interest can blossom into a great friendship.
8. Take different electives
Taking a class outside of your major and requirements can open you up to a new subject, concept or art form that you had previously never considered pursuing. Even though it may not be your first choice, you might be surprised at how much fun classes like medieval mythology can be. The more random the class is, the quirkier the professor is bound to be.
9. Be prepared to participate in class
This one is especially important in smaller seminar classes. Speaking up in class and sharing your views makes it more comfortable for other people to approach you, and it’ll also make you more comfortable with interacting with others. Don’t be a brownnose, but it’s always fun to say ridiculous things every once in a while to keep the class interesting.
10. Crack jokes and laugh at yourself
Nobody wants to spend time with someone who never laughs. For most people, college is the best four years of their lives, and who would want to spend those four years constantly solemn? Loosen up, have some fun, and don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself every now and then. If you trip and fall in the middle of the quad, act like you stuck the landing and take a bow. You deserve it.
11. Find classmates to study with
For introverts, studying is often the time to get away from the frustrating social sphere and be alone. But sometimes the quiet environment of a study session is the introvert’s time to shine. You’ll finally be able to share those observational jokes you’ve been working on about your professor.
If you start to put yourself out there and take advantage of just a few of the opportunities presented in your four years in college, you won’t regret any of it. Yes, it’s going to be uncomfortable and awkward at first, but the chance of a new friendship is always worth it.