Not all people are naturally social butterflies. Some individuals are shyer and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. I personally went to a small private high school and didn’t always have the easiest time fitting in with everyone. My social demographic was mainly associated with gamers and Yu-Gi-Oh! card players and less so with those who were heavily athletic. While I don’t mean to stereotype a boundary between “jocks” and “nerds” my main point is that we will often find that we fit in better with people of similar interests. That doesn’t go to say we shouldn’t try to expand our interests and hobbies, and I’m glad that I decided to get more physically active in college. However, I believe that one of the first steps to igniting one’s social skills is to find other people who share similar hobbies. Below are a few tips for those who may be social introverts, but would like to enhance their social life.
- Find a sport or club that interests you. It is true that this isn’t always easy. Some high schools are very small and offer little extracurricular activities so it can be hard to find a starting ground to socialize. Schools which are bigger may offer various sports, additional art classes, or even a Student Government Association. Even if the club isn’t something that necessarily interests you, it can make for a good starting ground just to meet new people. Clubs such as these should be less of a socially stressful environment so don’t be afraid to also look outside of school for social enhancement. See what sort of social functions are going on within your local community such as the YMCA or the Youth Center for example.
- Start talking to people in classes. It may sound very basic but for many introverts, this can be very challenging. Before class, just start talking to people next to you. Ask them “Hey how’s it going?” or something really simple like that. Even if you don’t have much to say, just get used to trying to verbally converse with other students. Yes, some people might take the same amount of time to open up but in life’s long-run, not everyone may take the time to reply. Maybe ask to get food with them some time or if they would like to get together to play ball after school. Trying to communicate with other classmates is a great start to becoming even a little more social.
- Go to events. This is something I still struggle with myself. I’d rather bring along one or two of my friends that I already have and go to events on campus. Quite honestly I hate attending events by myself but at the same time, I realize going to a social function alone is still better than lying around in my room. Who knows, maybe the people you meet you’ll see again and begin building new friendships! It’s worth a shot.
- Seek advice from a counselor. It’s often hard to go about solving these issues of shyness on our own and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a counselor. It could be a close friend or even a parent. I’ve spoken with several counselors throughout my late years of high school and early years of college regarding my social difficulties. Whether the counselor has you practicing “mock” conversations to get you comfortable with socializing or gives you various tips of how to become less introverted, it can be a good idea to reach out to others for help.
- Don’t get caught up in numbers. You should never worry about how many friends you have. I truly believe that if you make one or two truly good and supportive friends, it’s ten times better than having a thousand Facebook friends. Don’t get caught up in popularity and the fact that some people seem to have a ton of friends. While I feel that having a huge social life sometimes makes things more exciting, the quality of your friends is way more important than the quantity. Don’t get caught up in the fact that some people get over 100 likes over pictures on Instagram and Facebook. Having a million friends won’t make you less introverted. It might even encourage you to continue to keep to yourself more.
When it comes to being introverted, just know that you are not alone. Getting involved and socializing takes time especially if it’s not something you’re used to. Take one day at a time and always try to look for simple things that might just “ignite your social skills!”