Maybe it's your first day of classes/sports and you want to make friends with the people around you. Maybe you're joining a club or organization for the first time. Maybe you just want to make some new pals and don't know where to start.
Whatever your situation, you may be feeling nervous about it. What if you don't make friends? What if you embarrass yourself somehow? What if people ignore you?
I'm here to tell you that there is nothing to worry about!
I was very awkward all throughout middle school and high school and had only a small number of friends, as I was too scared to talk to people. Luckily, I managed to mostly overcome that in college, and I now have a lot of friends!
1. Keep a positive attitude.
It works wonders and does more for you than you may think. If you go in thinking, "Oh my God, I'm going to mess up!", that won't do any good for you. On the other hand, reassuring yourself with thoughts such as, "I've got this. Everything will be fine. I know they'll like me." That is very helpful. Even if you don't believe it, fake it until you make it!
2. Try simple calming exercises.
These help a lot, too; deep breathing, attempting to ground yourself, etc. That way, at least your heart will be racing a bit less and you'll be able to think a bit more clearly. Try to distract yourself from your nerves by focusing on neutral, non-stressful things around you. Look at the details of the room you're in or listen to the sounds of the sports field you're on. Not only does this help you to be more familiar with your surroundings, but it'll take your mind off the stress of people.
3. Come up with a script.
Do this in your head beforehand. It doesn't have to be a Tony Award-winning script or anything, so don't overthink it. Just a simple "I'll say hi, how are you doing?" and they'll respond back with an answer. Then you can compliment them in some way or comment on the class/club/activity you're doing, and start a conversation from there. Whatever works best for you!
4. Remember that those around you may be nervous, too.
This especially applies to "first" situations; first rehearsal, first class of the semester, etc. If it's their first but not yours (i.e. it's their first day at a new job, but you've been working there for weeks, months, or even years), then they're almost definitely MORE nervous than you are. Either way, most people will completely understand if you stutter, say something a bit silly, or experience nerves. If they don't understand? They're not worth your friendship anyway.
DISCLAIMER: I am by no means a therapist, and if you're experiencing genuine forms of social anxiety, then there will almost definitely be much more to help than all of this, and I recommend trying to seek some form of treatment for it.