Perhaps you are happy to be an introvert. Perhaps you have a close-knit group of friends and you are content in your cozy castle you call home. I am not.
I had never thought of myself as shy until I took a public speaking class. Despite practicing in front of my roommates, every time I stood before my class, I would freeze. I’d stutter and stammer and stand frozen mid-sentence forgetting whatever words I had prepared. I was self conscious — correction: I am self conscious. I had thought I had moved past the worry that seemed to pervade my high school hallways. Apparently not.
That class made me realize I wasn’t only timid in that setting. I have never tried out for a solo in my a cappella group, I’m scared to talk to girls, I never leave my apartment on the weekends. I am not content. Most of the time I’m just sad that I’m not off meeting new people or making lasting memories with the ones I have. But I’m trying to improve that.
If you’re in the same boat, here are some tips for putting yourself out there.
1. Make a Tinder or Bumble
I know, weird and probably uncomfortable, but putting yourself out there in real life is much harder than making a profile. Write about yourself, and if you want to make friends, say so. Tinder can be a place for hookups, but it can also be a forum to just meet new people. Bumble even has a BFF setting exclusive for finding friends. Plus, you don’t even have to message anyone. If anything, I use it as a pick me up. A way of knowing that someone finds me beautiful. I know, I should think that myself, but I’m still working on having more confidence.
I worked at a camp this summer. One of the men I worked with came up to talk to me and said he wasn’t sure if I liked him, “you always have a resting bitch face on.” I was honestly surprised. I had figured my face was, if anything, scared or slightly terrified. I was afraid of talking to counselors I didn’t directly work with. While on this topic I should say don’t be afraid to have a resting bitch face. Sometimes that’s just the way it is and no one should ever tell you to change. I certainly am not.
That said, people tend to feel more comfortable around someone who looks like their having a good time. So smile.
For anyone who feels bad about having a resting bitch face, please listen to Olivia Gatwood’s poem “Ode to My Bitch Face.”
3. Join a club
There are a wide assortment of clubs on any college campus. If you are shy, it would probably be best to wait for the beginning of a new semester. For now, you can look up clubs that are available on your campus and find which ones might be best suited to you interests. Pick something you think you might enjoy. There are clubs for baking, reading, poetry, singing, biking, skating, chess, gaming, and more. If you go to the first club meetings you’ll be one of many that are new to the scene. It might be awkward at first, but the people there hold a similar interest to yours and you might find you have more in common.
4. Try and ease away from comfort
It is easy to get comfortable. You go through all the anxiety of meeting people and doing things that you create an environment that you are comfortable with. It might not necessarily mean you are always happy, but that you aren’t constantly self-conscious. If you aren’t content, try and do new things. If it’s hard to do something alone, then ask a friend or roommate to go with you. Walk a different route to class, attend a free event your campus holds, maybe try talking to a classmate you see every week but have never tried to get to know.
I am still scared of new people. Perhaps intimidated is a better word. But I am trying new things, trying to be more confident in action and decision. It’s hard, but that’s just how it is sometimes.
There are probably a hundred different methods that people have found helpful, but these are the ones that have helped me. I hope they help you, too. Also, if you’re ever looking for new events to attend around Boone, Lyric Poetry Club holds an open mic every Wednesday from 8-10pm at 3rd Place, next to Insomnia Cookies. That is where you can find me, intermingled with friends and strangers who come together to share their art.