Forgive me if this is cliche. I am a reasonably shy freshman and a commuter, and I’ve struggled a lot with making friends this year — more so than I thought I would. I’ve tried to get involved with clubs that ended up draining me, and I go to events on campus that interest me often, but most of the time it seems that everyone hangs out in groups of people they already know. Where can I meet some kindred spirits?
Dear Shy Butterfly,
The only reason why things are cliche is because they are really prevalent in today’s society. There’s plenty of people who feel like they haven’t found their niche at college just yet. It’s true that a lot of people travel in groups and I can see how that’s intimidating for you.
For transparency’s sake, I had to phone a few friends to answer your question; I’ve never commuted and I’m naturally extroverted. I wanted to give you a well-rounded answer because, try as I may, I can’t imagine your situation. So, I asked two of my good friends about their experience of making friends in college and I was shocked about their answers.
When I was a freshman, I met my one friend in class. Although I initially avoided her (long story), I thought that our friendship came easy. But it turns out she was looking for her “college BFF.” At the time, she hung out with different people even though it made her uncomfortable because of her natural shyness. Eventually, we met and, despite the fact that I wasn’t looking for a friendship, we found one. Flash forward three years and I’m grateful that she constantly chased people and sought out friendships.
Another one of my friends, Gianna, was a commuter her freshman year and told me that she constantly talked to people in her classes. She continued to do so until someone invited her to Rowan’s Homeless Outreach club and she found her niche through this. Personally, when I met Gi, she was willing to talk to anyone and everyone and kept the conversation going. After we had a conversation for five minutes, she kept on reaching out to me. And just like that, we were friends.
As an extrovert, I love it when people come up to me and start talking. I think that shy people believe that other people think they are weird if they start a conversation, but there’s nothing more endearing than meeting someone in line and having a conversation with them, or complimenting someone and starting a full-fledged friendship out of that.
I think you are doing a lot of the right things by putting yourself out there, and I’m so proud of you for doing that. But the only answer I have for you is to keep going. Put yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit more, maybe you’ll have some luck listening to people’s conversations and seeing what type of person they are. Then, when the time presents itself, you can go up to them and have a conversation.
Good luck, Shy Butterfly, I believe in you.
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