I came to college ready to wow and dazzle my classmates and roommates with my witty, suave, really cool personality. Two days in, I realized that I am in fact all of those things… in my head.
In reality, I have a severe case of foot-in-mouth syndrome and in social situations, when attention is turned to me, I get flushed and sweaty and even weirder.
You know when you share stories that you think are going to be funny but realize halfway through that you are about to crash and burn? Like, badly? But you finish anyway because it would be worse if you just stopped talking and then ensues that awful pause in which people don’t know whether or not they should push out a half snort in pity or just move on. Yeah, love those moments.
The last time I went out of my way to make a friend was probably elementary school. I’m not going to get into specifics but basically I have four really close best friends. And I’ve known three of them since second, third and fourth grade. The other, Abby, is a total extrovert and managed to befriend me during my freshman year of high school.
So what I’m saying is this:
When I entered college, I realized that I have no clue how to go about making new friends.
However, if college has taught me anything (because higher education is not the point of us being here, obviously) it is that I excel in making acquaintances. You need an acquaintance to bemoan homework assignments, giggle with during class or exchange some looks across the room about a lecture or comment, I am your girl.
But when it comes to meeting outside of class and just hanging out, I kind of suck. I worry about awkward silences, weird comments and lack of that je ne sais quoi (literally, I don’t know what) that creates insta-friends as easily as my microwavable ramen.
I seem to be the kind of person that gains friends through exposure. My roommates for instance. It only took me a semester but I’ve gotten to the point where I completely consider them friends. And I got really lucky in terms of how amazing my roommates are, bearing in mind the random assignment aspect.
I’ve come to accept that as someone who considers myself to be 80% introverted, maybe making and having 400 friends will never be my forte.
But, here are a few tips I’ve found helpful in overcoming my gawkiness.
1. Force yourself to participate in a group activity
Finding your niche is so important. Join a club, find people who like the things that you do. It sounds trite and very “I know, mom” but unless you would like to be alone every night of the weekend, this is key.
This sounds simple but can be an introvert’s worst nightmare. Yo, if you f*** it up, play it off. People like people who can laugh at themselves every now and then. Eventually, the nervous blabbering will die out as you get more and more comfortable.
3. Play it cool
Guys, fake it until you make it. I understand the hand-shaking, body tremor nervousness that can arise in certain situations. But whenever that happens, I laugh louder. I talk more. I smile more. And more often than not, I surprise myself by actually having a good time.
After having a conversation with my friends, I’ve come to understand that maybe we’re all still wishing we were 10 year olds that are totally cool with a simple conversation that goes a little something like this...
Hey, wanna be my best friend?
And then they walk away, arm in arm, completely inseparable.