When you’re an introvert, meeting new people can be challenging. However, no matter how shy you are around people, college is one of the best places to make new friends. Most people have difficulty meeting new people after leaving high school, but introverts, in particular, need an extra reason to be in a social situation. In other words, an introvert needs some pretext to make new friends. For other people, this pretext seems to come naturally, but it usually takes some practice for introverts.
In the following article, we will discuss what an introvert is, the qualities that they possess that can make it difficult for them to make new friends, and some strategies that introverts can implement to help them meet new people in college. So, if you are an introvert or you’re trying to give yourself some reassurance about meeting new friends in college, look no further than this article. Meeting people can be really hard, especially if you’re a bit of a wallflower, but there are many well-tested tips that can help.
What Is an Introvert?
If you’re reading this article, you might be asking yourself: “what is an introvert, and how are they different from extroverts or ambiverts?” Being introverted, extroverted, or a combination of the two (ambivert) is one of the central pillars of human social psychology. These words are commonly discussed when we think about how we relate to and socialize with other people. Still, many people don’t actually grasp what these words mean and what kinds of qualities make up an introverted person.
Introversion is typically considered to be low levels of extroversion since the two personality traits essentially exist on a spectrum. While people with high levels of extroversion often do things like seek out social interaction, spend less time alone, enjoy crowds, or be more outgoing, introverts typically seek out the opposite.
Generally, introverts do better in quiet environments, enjoy spending time alone, act more reserved in social situations, and find their “social battery” drains quickly. A “social battery” refers to how much time or energy you can spend in social situations with other people, which is typically less for a person with more introverted qualities.
Both genetics and environment make up whether you have more introverted or extroverted traits. For example, people with many introverted family members are usually more likely to become introverted themselves. Still, many factors can influence whether you grow up to become an introvert or extrovert. These can include the parenting style of the people you grew up with, experiences with friends in early childhood, and what kind of education you receive, especially when you’re very young.
Introverts can definitely be shy people, but not all of them are! There are many misconceptions about introverts as a whole, but understanding this personality trait can definitely help you to know how to better make friends around you.
Why Is It Hard for Introverts To Meet New People?
There could be a few different reasons why introverts—as opposed to extroverts—have more trouble meeting new people or making friends. Many of the difficulties that introverts face making friends stem from the personality attributes they have that differ from extroverts.
For many introverts, the thought of engaging in small talk makes them shudder with apprehension. Many introverts feel emotions very deeply and cannot grasp or handle the idea of engaging with new people without feeling any awkwardness. This is one reason why it is often difficult for them to make new friends: many introverts keep their circle small and want to skip right to the “deep stuff” when interacting with new people.
Another reason why introverts may have trouble making new friends is that many of them prefer to keep a tight circle of close-knit friends rather than having many acquaintances. For an introvert, two or three best friends could be more than enough!
However, when moving to the next phase of life and attending college, they can find themselves in situations where they are far from their regular friend group and need to find new people to spend time with. In cases like these, it’s essential for introverts to branch out and understand that meeting new friends doesn’t mean they need to have dozens of new people in their life. Making new friends can always be done slowly and in small quantities!
One other reason introverts might find it challenging to make new friends is that socializing can quickly drain them. Since introverts might not be able to spend as much time as extroverts can when socializing with people, new friends might take this as disinterest. However, introverts just need more time to recharge their “social battery,” and then they can get right back to interacting with new friends!
An Introvert’s Strategies for Meeting New People
Not all introverts are shy, but many of them are at a disadvantage when it comes to striking up an idle conversation. The secret to avoiding this is to find situations with a built-in conversation starter, such as a group extracurricular activity. Alternatively, you can eliminate the initial awkwardness by meeting people online.
For an introvert having problems meeting new people, it’s essential to stop trying unsuccessful friend-making techniques that only cause frustration. For example, college students in a classroom often aren’t in a friend-making mood. The professors can be stricter than high school teachers, and the work is often more complex. Plus, since college students have to pay for their classes, many of them are “all business” when it comes to socializing in the classroom.
However, if you see many of the same people in your classes each semester and they share your major and seem interesting to you, talk to them after class and find out if they want to study with you. Even though you may typically prefer studying alone as an introvert, this pretext gives you an opening to make new friends.
Let’s discuss some other ways to significantly increase the chances of meeting like-minded people.
Join an On-campus Club or Organization
Instead of waiting for the perfect situation to come to you, make it happen by participating in extracurricular activities. It may seem like extra work to do on top of studying and paying bills, but the truth is that socializing is work, even for people who love doing it.
When you’re around other people who share your interests, you’ll be forced to have interesting conversations with them while doing an activity, whether it’s creative writing, badminton, chess, rock climbing, river rafting, or community outreach. All colleges host these kinds of activities and post flyers all over campus advertising them. You can also find out about activities related to your major from your department office or college website.
Start Your Own Group
As we just mentioned, one of the best ways for introverts to meet new people is to join a new extracurricular activity or club. However, there aren’t always clubs or teams available for your particular interests. In this case, you always have the opportunity to start your own group or club!
This group could be online or in-person, but something to keep in mind is that most colleges and universities make it very easy for students to start their own clubs. So if you have a passion that doesn’t already have a group attached to it, chances are someone else shares the same interest as you and would be willing to participate!
If your interest is especially uncommon, your club will likely attract people with similar personalities and interests as you. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with student life advisors or other school faculty to figure out how you can start a registered club of your own at your college or university. This is an incredible way to make new friends!
Make the First Move
This tip might seem daunting for many introverts, but it’s one that’s necessary to consider when starting college. Since many introverts hate having awkward interactions and have difficulty with small talk, they might wait for new friends to come to them. Additionally, many introverts might be afraid of new friends rejecting them.
However, neglecting to make the first move with new friendships can leave you feeling alone and isolated. Many introverts might not think about making the first move due to their fears or hesitations, but stepping out of their comfort zones can be the key to creating authentic and lasting relationships.
Additionally, if you want to be friends with other introverts, consider this: They are probably experiencing the same hesitations that you are! The reality is that one of you will need to make the first move to become friends, so it might as well be you! Both of you will probably be thankful for it in the long run.
Be Honest With Yourself
One of the most important parts of making new friends is to be honest with yourself about who you are inside. You should never try to change yourself to fit in with other people, and often, introverts will find that they want to morph themselves to appear more likable. This usually has the opposite effect that you want, and you will generally feel unhappy with yourself at the end of the day if you are trying to be someone you’re not.
The right friends will like you for exactly who you are, so don’t try to build new relationships with people based on false personality traits.
Get Over The Awkwardness
When you’re an introvert, things are often awkward. However, awkwardness is a natural part of life, especially when you’re interacting with new people the first few times. Being slightly socially awkward is natural and not something you will be able to avoid your entire life.
At a certain point, accepting the awkwardness that comes alongside making new friends can be preferable to the pain of loneliness. Besides, once you get comfortable with someone, the awkwardness will dissipate naturally! This is when you know you’ve made a true friend.
In the beginning stages, though, allow yourself to sit with the awkwardness and use it to open up around new people.
The next best way for introverts to meet new people is to skip the awkward conversation opener altogether by going online. For example, websites like Meetup can be similar to college extracurricular activities and clubs and can provide a way of making friends that share your interests.
Meetup groups exist for just about everything you can imagine. Some current examples include:
- The World of AI and Machine Learning
- Blockchain Game Development
- Bellydancing Classes
- Women and Kids Travel
- Let’s Make Short Films
- Food, Drinks, and New Friends
- Coding and Coffee
- Meditation and Journaling
- Women in STEM Bookclub
- Gay German Conversation Group
- French Book Club for Non-Native Speakers
For introverts, making friends has its own unique requirements, but if you understand why introverts need a specific reason to start a conversation, you can use your college’s resources to your advantage. Online meetups have their advantages and disadvantages, and so do in-person activities. To meet new people with minimal risk of awkwardness, find situations where a shared interest brings people together.
College is a great place to meet new people, no matter your personality type or attributes. You will undoubtedly make amazing new friends during your time in school, even if there are some awkward moments along the way.
Making good friends who you’ll have for life is all about trial and error as well as learning what kinds of qualities you like about people. So while introverts might have a more difficult time making friends than their extroverted counterparts, it doesn’t mean that they won’t find people who love them just as much.
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