There was a time where I once thought the world was scary… Ok, so I still think it's scary. At the time I was just an innocent and shy high school student trying to get by on my own terms. I still remember the first day of high school (aka the most terrifying day of my life) like the back of my hand- scary, too many people, I only get four minutes in between classes, where the heck do I sit during lunch, how do I make more friends, etc. Looking back now, there really wasn't anything to worry about and it was all just in my head.
Enter the summer before starting college for the very first time. My life was starting fresh in more ways than one, but was I ready for it? Yes, in a way. On the other hand, it proved to be a bit more bittersweet than I had bargained for. Most students going off to college usually only go about an hour to a few hours away. Try twelve. I was excited to move to an entirely new state but also sad to leave behind some of the best people I could've asked for and my entire childhood.
Not once would I have thought that everything I knew from back home would be left behind. On that final day of high school, the world was glistening in warm hues as bittersweet and tearful goodbyes were said. All was as it usually seemed when the outer parking circle filled up with all students from freshmen to seniors who took pictures. The blue sky lifted our spirits while the golden sunshine dried our tears. High school was over and the adult world was ready to take over. Little did I know that living twelve hours away came with its own lessons to learn.
Oftentimes when friends move far away from each other they tend to separate and lose touch. After leaving behind such a strong connection to move on to a foreign place, it's easy to feel alone and out of place. However, no one said it had to be this way. Long distance relationships of any kind scare people just with the idea of separation alone, but this is not always imminent. What friends and couples fail to realize is that communication is key and both parties are responsible for it. In reality, your old friends know you better than anyone else and may be able to help you out better as well so keep them close. They're your light in the darkness.
Also on the subject of communication is meeting people and making new friends. Yes, my fellow introverts, this is probably one of the more difficult tasks but I promise it is possible despite the eternal fear and paralyzation that comes with it. The best part about the school I'll be attending (and others I'm sure) is all the resources they've made available for students to meet each other and make new connections. Facebook and Instagram groups, messaging options, etc are a blessing in disguise for us introverts who thought finding real people to spend our time with (eww people) would be a miracle and a half. Personally, this was a gift that led me to so many cool people and even the best roommate (aka new best friend) that I could ever ask for. I didn't think it would be possible to find new friends that could compare to those I already had back home, but it turned out to be so and I'm forever grateful for it. A little patience and effort with communication makes all the difference with new and old friends.
With that said, college is an exciting and terrifying point of life that has to be faced. While us introverts may enjoy our own personal space, the best way to get everything we can out of college is to leave that bubble every now and then to interact with the other students that we share the campus with. I highly recommend joining clubs, trying new activities that you wouldn't have chosen otherwise, and finding someone to sit with during meals instead of opting for your usual empty spot in the corner of the dining hall. Of course, you can still find time for yourself as long as it's balanced with at least a little bit of social time (even with a sudden inability to form words upon first meeting someone). Every little step to rediscover verbal skills is not ignored in the new friend department, so try your hardest to get yourself out there.
Dear introverts, stand tall and join each other (maybe figuratively) in the friend making factory. I challenge you to get out there and feel uncomfortable and socially awkward as I have challenged myself to do. Don't let shyness get in the way of making sweet memories and meeting awesome people. Once you're out there, it's really not so bad and I promise you'll feel unstoppable. So get up, exit the blanket cocoon you've created in your room, and make some connections. I dare you.