Three Tips on Dealing with Social Anxiety and Meeting Friends in College

Iman sits on the Bunce steps with her bookbag

Here’s a secret that no one bothered telling me: it is not easy to meet people in college if you aren’t a social butterfly. Dealing with social anxiety is both increasingly common and increasingly difficult as college progresses. I’m almost done with my first semester of sophomore year and I still don’t talk to very many people on a regular basis. Even with the increase in mental health awareness, people who don’t struggle with social phobias don’t understand that it’s hard to just ‘talk to people’.

The sad part is that there’s no cheat code which will automatically make things better. Additionally, if your experience is anything like mine, you’ll find that a lot of friendly relationships won’t actually progress into friendships. However, this doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. Giving up is always your worst possible option. I can’t tell you a sure-fire way to make connections, but I can give you advice!

  1. Make friends with your grades first.A student holds her reminder list app on her phone up to the camera

I find that establishing a good study routine and maintaining consistent beneficial habits helps reduce my general anxiety. Get in the habit of writing down assignments and then checking to see if they’re done at the same time every day. Start leaving reminders on your phone about long-term projects.

Once you stop worrying about grades and schoolwork, you can focus on social situations. While the workload for some college classes can seem daunting, if you develop good habits it becomes less intimidating and you can reduce your level of stress greatly.

  1. Say hi to the people who work on campus.

Interacting with Rowan employees is a very low-stakes situation. I always make sure to say hello to janitors and people I see regularly working in the dining hall. It’s not much of an accomplishment, maybe, but it makes me feel amazing when they remember me and start to say hello first.

I know you’re scared of being judged, and considering that, even this can seem hard, but remember: these people see hundreds of students every day. If you’re slightly awkward when you wave or say hi, they won’t think too much of it, I promise! Any interaction is good interaction when social anxiety is your roadblock.

Iman studies on a bench by the Bunce lawn

  1. Arrive early for class.

I find it really difficult to strike up conversation, but if someone else initiates, things become easier. If you’re early for every class, chances are good that eventually someone will give you a friendly greeting. This might not lead to a friendship, but like I said earlier, even friendly relationships and basic conversation can make you feel good about yourself.

It may be difficult, but I promise there are always ways to deal with social anxiety. You can also visit the Wellness Center if you feel like your anxiety is eating at you. Good luck!

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Story by:
Iman Salyani,
Sophomore advertising major from Monroe Township, NJ (Middlesex County)