Starting college is intimidating for almost everyone. Being thrown into an entirely new environment with a whole bunch of people who you don't know definitely takes some getting used to. This transition is especially difficult when you're shy, and it's a struggle I know all too well.
Since I started school, I've always been soft-spoken and someone who thinks (sometimes too much) before they speak. My shy nature often got in the way of me talking to people I thought were cool or doing things outside of my comfort zone. You can ask anyone who attended school with me from first grade to senior year of high school, and they would confirm that I was a girl of few words. Some of them might not even remember me at all.
As I grew up, I knew deep in my heart that I definitely had the capacity to come out of my shell. My closest friends knew that in the right conditions, I could be funny, outspoken and loud. I love making people laugh, but the "shy girl" box I'd been hiding in for the majority of my childhood kept me from being the person that I wanted to be. Everyone knew me as the shy girl, and trying to break away from that label in high school was near impossible. But then I graduated.
By the fall, I was living in a place with a whole new set of people. People who didn't know me as the shy girl. I had the freedom to completely reinvent myself if I wanted. Would I start going by an edgy new nickname? Would I dye my hair bright pink? The possibilities were endless, but I only wanted one thing: to not be known as the shy girl anymore.
A not insignificant number of people from my high school go to my university, and I thought that would make it harder for me to reinvent myself in the way I wanted to. A large part of the reason I found it hard to ditch my persona in high school was because of people who continued to treat me like I was shy. They'd speak over me and leave me out of conversations that I was obviously and desperately trying to be a part of.
College was definitely the fresh start I needed. I'm so different than I ever was in high school because I was able to be the person I wanted to be rather than the one everyone expected me to be. People who I've remained close to through this time have commented on how much I've changed for the better, and I'm so much happier now that I'm able to myself.
So, to all the shy girls (and boys) who are starting or are already in college, don't be afraid to reinvent yourself in whichever ways you'd like. Break free of the things you felt were holding you back from being your authentic self. As hard and intimidating as it may be, put yourself out there. Introduce yourself to your classmates and neighbors and friends of friends. Be true to yourself, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone every once in a while. Being an introvert and shy is okay, but don't let that persona you've grown up with hold you back.
The most important lesson I've learned in college wasn't taught to me in a class or written in a textbook but rather something I discovered when overcoming my shyness. I learned that it's important to be true to yourself and not let others put you in a box. Live your life and express yourself and your unique personality in whichever way you'd like. Break free from your little shy bubble and find your place and people like I found mine.