As a child I faced extreme shyness. My mom had to enroll my in preschool not because I did not know my alphabet or my numbers, but because she felt that I needed to be in an environment like that in order to socialize with others. It also did not help that I was an only child at the time so I felt most comfortable by myself than in a large group. Becoming a Girl Scout was also another method my mom used to encourage me to break out of my shyness shell. Despite my moms many efforts, I still stayed being the shy girl all throughout school. In high school, my shyness got a bit better since I had become involved in class cabinet as well as a few other extracurricular activities. As my senior year came to an end, I knew my struggle with shyness had to soon change once I got to college.
Even though I am still on my journey of becoming more open to others, I have a few tips that helped me be less shy in college. Trust me, I know it is very scary to even think about having to branch out of your comfort zone, but read my tips with an open mind.
- Be the first to say hello to others. For a shy person, this can be extremely difficult. Set a goal to at least say hi to a new person each day. It could be a classmate or a complete stranger. Once you grow more comfortable with saying hello to others, start increasing your goal per day. This can be a bit silly, but this helped me a lot with breaking down the wall that I had always built towards new people.
- Get involved! As a third year, I hold the vice president position for my sorority, vice president of the business and professional women organization, and many more positions so there is hope for you shy people out there too! I first began with joining only one organization my first semester of freshman year. I did not want to overwhelm myself my first semester by joining too many clubs on campus. Keeping the limit to one club at first serves as a stepping stone to build up the confidence to branch out and join other organizations. The more energy you put into meeting new people through these clubs on your campus, the easier it will get to not feel as shy around larger groups.
- Do not be afraid to speak up. To this day, I am still working on speaking up. At first, I felt like my opinions and thoughts did not matter since those who were less shy in my classes or clubs seemed to have a set of confident answers to everything. I have grown to learn that every voice matters. I like to take a deep breath before I know I am speaking about an important topic. This allows me to calm myself of any nerves before speaking.
- Make eye contact with others. I never realized how powerful eye contact could be until one of my business professors made us present ourselves during the first week of classes. She said that eye contact not only lets others know you are confident in what you are saying, but also that you are listening to what the other person is saying. Even though I did listen to others whenever I looked away, those who never struggled with shyness might think that you are not interested or are ignoring the conversation.
- Speak at a good volume. Before college, I usually always had a soft and quiet tone of voice. I soon realized that I had to speak loud and clear especially during presentations. Having a clear voice when speaking to one person or a whole class allows for people to easily understand what you are saying. Just like eye contact shows that you are confident in what you are saying, a good volume to your voice can have that same effect.
From one shy person to another, I hope that these tips help you out in some way. I never thought I would ever become less shy than I was a few years ago, but it is possible! I still have my shy moments, but it is something I am constantly trying to work at. College can be overwhelming for a shy person, just remember that it takes baby steps at first to conquer shyness!