Dealing with a Social Anxiety Disorder in College

I have struggled with a Social Anxiety Disorder for many years. While I knew that college was going to be a rough transition, there were still many aspects of campus life that caused my Disorder to regress. During the first few weeks of school, the process of making friends, finding a place to sit in the cafeteria, and living in a dorm was a paralyzing procedure. I was not alone with these difficulties. Many studies have shown that students have increased struggles with Social Anxiety once they enter college. While Social Anxiety can feel very isolating, many college students undergo similar feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and fear when it comes to social situations. If you have a Social Anxiety Disorder, know that you are not alone. While every Social Anxiety Disorder is different, here are some tips that might help you out with campus life. 

 

Don’t isolate yourself 

While it may be tempting to hide in your dorm and avoid as many social situations as possible, this is actually very detrimental to your well being. Cutting yourself off from people will cause your feelings of anxiety to increase. Many psychologists have proven that exposure to social interactions is the key to helping with Social Anxiety. 

Get involved

Join at least one club or activity that you are passionate about. While having Social Anxiety can be lonely, going to extracurriculars and meeting people who enjoy the same things that you do will cause the network of people you know to grow. At every meeting, try to talk to at least one new person.

 

Don’t be hard on yourself

Not every conversation you have is going to end up with you becoming best friends with who you were talking to. Sometimes the people you meet just aren’t going to click with you. That is not a reflection on you as a person, it is just a part of life. Learning how to be social is not a natural process—it takes time to learn. Some interactions are going to be awkward, and that is completely O.K. None of us are perfect. Don’t let these situations discourage you, especially when you are first starting off. 

 

Alone time

Social situations are draining, especially for people who have Social Anxiety. While college is not exactly the place that offers a lot of spaces to be alone, there are bound to be a few if you scope them out. Use this spot whenever you need time off to focus on yourself for a while. Just remember the difference between isolation and alone time! 

Get help

Most colleges have a counseling center. If you can, try and make yourself and your situation known to the staff who work there as soon as school starts so you can utilize them at any time during the year when you need it.

While Social Anxiety can make the college process more difficult, it doesn’t have to stop you from having a fulfilling, fun experience. The advice I gave doesn’t mean that you have to throw yourself in every conversation or interaction that you see. Just try to gradually be open to more social situations. And no matter what, remember that help is out there, and you are enough just the way you are! 

 

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