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Tips for Tackling Shyness in College

Okay I get it. You don’t like that word “shy”. It’s irritating. You cry: “I’m not shy!” Well, I am or at least I used to be. I’ve always been introverted, quiet, or whatever term you prefer. I don’t like the word “shy” in description of myself either because it has a negative connotation in our American culture. Americans are supposed to be loud and want to show off how amazing they are.


Umm…I think I’ll pass. As I’ve grown out my shell and I talk to more people, I realize that I’m not alone. Now that I’m in college and I make it a point to get out of my comfort zone with talking to new people, I learn that often they have similar mindsets.


It’s hard to be shy because it can make you feel like you are powerless to make a change. There’s a voice in your head saying, “It will never get better. You’re stuck like this.” That voice inside your head is wrong. You have the ability to make your time at college the best four years of your life so far. So stop listening to that voice in your head that keeps saying, “I can’t talk to that person. I can’t speak up in class. I can’t .” Girl, of course you can! Here are some tips for squashing that negative voice in your head.


1. Be Positive

I know that sounds cheesy but hear me out. You have made it into college. Not everyone can say that. You worked hard and you accomplished your goal! I bet there were times in high school where you wanted to just go to bed and watch Parks and Rec. I know I wasn’t the only one! So, congratulate yourself because you deserve it. So the point is, you said “I can’t” but you did. You persevered. The voice saying, “I can’t” was proven wrong. See what amazing things can happen when you ignore the negative thoughts? Getting into college is just one example. Start believing in your worth as a fantastic human being. You are strong and you can do the things that scare you.


2. Introduce Yourself to New People

You can start out with just a few. Find that person in your class that you’ve noticed smile a lot. Pick someone who looks happy because that’s a good indicator that they will be kind. Then if you see them walking around campus or you’re both walking by each other on campus, offer them a compliment. It’s an easy icebreaker and everyone loves them. So they will say thank you (if they don’t say thank you, feel free not to pursue the possible friendship any longer because clearly they’re not worth your time). Then you can say, “Hey you’re in my (insert class title here) class aren’t you? My name is (insert name here)”. Continue to talk to them for a few minutes. Say it was nice to meet them and then go on your merry way. The more times you work at it, the easier it gets. It is not weird to introduce yourself even at this point in the school year. People are kind on this campus. If they do not act respectful to your kind questioning, don’t give up on yourself. Pick someone different. No one said you would be a pro at it the first time. It’s all about practice. The more times you talk to someone new, the easier it is.

3. Follow Up

Next time you see that person you introduced yourself to, say hello. Even if you’re just passing on the path in the Quad or walking by in the commons, make an effort. If you have time and they don’t appear to be in a rush, pause and chat for a minute. People like it when others notice them. You may even be the bright spot in their day. We’re oftentimes so focused on ourselves and our own insecurities that we don’t consider how others might be having a bad day themselves. Be open because it allows you to grow out of your shell.

These three steps are just the start of tackling shyness. The more you do them, the easier it will be to talk to new people. I have used these ideas and they work really well. My friends tease me that now I’m so outgoing that I talk to new people all the time. However, I still need my space and to be introverted is part of my personality. I’ve learned to be confident with who I am instead of listening to that little voice inside my head telling me that I can’t do it. Because I did. You can too.

I love University of Portland!
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