To the girl who always turns down plans, don't.

Stay in bed or go out? You already know your answer.

I grew up shy, my own best friend.. I was the girl in middle and high school that had one all-consuming friendship at a time. I clung on, certain that the girls in huge groups were doing it wrong. It was the only logical approach- you filled each other’s time, never facing competition. Looking back, it does have its cons. Watching everyone else being able to befriend anyone always made me jealous. I wanted that so badly. But being introverted, it didn’t seem possible. No one wants to be friends with the shy girl.

Don't get me wrong, I had other friends- or, I should say, acquaintances. Senior year, I really branched out. I started talking to girls I had always brushed off and rekindled my friendship with an old friend. It was definitely my best year of high school, but I still didn't go out much. When someone would approach me with plans the first thought that would come to mind was what lie can I come up with to get out of this? I couldn't help myself. I would much rather stay home and lay in bed.

Looking back, doing that hurt me way more than I imagined. I would log onto social media and seeing my friends have a fun time at the plans I turned downed. A cloud of depression would come over me. I would be furious with myself for feeling that way. It was only my fault. The amount of memories and experiences I turned down is repulsive. High school is supposed to be the best four years of your life, but for me it was the worst.

I was terrified going into college. The thought of not knowing anyone besides a couple people I had met online filled me with panic. August rolled around and any excitement turned to dread. My comfort zone had treated me too well. I wasn't okay with the thought of being even slightly uncomfortable. All I could tell myself is how badly I wanted college to be different. I didn’t want to be the girl who sits in my dorm with the door shut, isolating myself yet again. I wanted to have a big group of friends, and never turn down plans unless I actually had to.

I’ve now been at Merrimack for eight weeks. Eight weeks of new friends. Eight weeks of finally, finally going out when I wanted to hide in my room. Eight weeks of searching for myself- and finding a person I actually like. I’ve found a kind, supportive friend group. They’re forced me to interact with even more people in my building, and now I always have someone I can hang out with. I never refuse plans. Even when I really, really want to. I'm over that. My social anxiety has almost vanished and the amount of crazy, fun experiences I have had here already is unreal.

So, to the girl who's either in high school reading this right now worrying or in college sitting in her dorm, don't. I promise sitting in your room by yourself on a Friday night may be fun sometimes, but not every weekend. Go out. Have fun. Find new friends, make new experiences, have the time of your life. As cliche as this may sound, you're only young once. Don't look back and regret turning down plans that could have been the time of your life.