Reflecting upon my past three years at university, it’s hard to believe the difference between now and my first day of fresher’s week. Whilst the prospect of going to uni was exciting and a new chapter in my life, as an introvert the prospect of having to immerse myself in a new social scene terrified me. What if I didn’t make any new friends? What if I had to drop out? These anxieties were not helped when I arrived late and irrationally assumed everyone in my group would have made friends already.
Fast-forward and I have a healthy social life sharing a house with three other people. One thing I would go back and tell myself is to spend less time worrying about making friends and proactively seek to forge friendships. As a naturally shy person all of my instincts told me to stay within my room and avoid the potentially awkward conversation; however I knew this was not the best way that I could begin my uni life. I decided to “fake it until I made it”, bite the bullet and push past my social awkwardness.
Whilst this strategy worked for me, I would recommend that people not view their flatmates as ‘the be all and end of all’ of socialisation whilst at university. Whilst I got lucky with my flatmates, it is important to remember that halls is essentially a lucky dip in the sense that you are put with random strangers that you may or may not have things in common with. Whilst connecting with your new flatmates via Facebook fresher groups may ease some of the initial awkwardness of meeting, it may become apparent in the weeks after moving in that they may not be the best friends you envisioned.
My advice to fellow introverts is to try and expand your social circle as much as possible in the first few weeks, be this through your course, societies or sports teams. This is something I regret not doing and I sometimes wonder how different my uni life may have been if I had. Try to embrace all the opportunities available to you whilst at university and try not let shyness hold you back!