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How Do I Make Friends In College?

How Do I Make Friends In College?

I'm starting university this September and could really use some advice on making new friends. I'm quite shy and withdrawn and it takes me a bit of time to get out of my shell. How can I make friends when I often don't feel like socializing? I don't want to be stuck in my own little bubble all year.

As a little kid, your friends were people you met on the playground or sat next to in elementary school; they were the ones who had the same American Girl dolls as you or whose parents were BFF with your own. But when you’re no longer little, making friends suddenly becomes a big headache. 

And it's even worse when you're just starting college, because everyone is a stranger—and everyone’s feeling that same pressure to suddenly make a lot of friends, fast. The good thing about such an awkward scenario is that hundreds (thousands!) of newbies are in the exact same position as you. But we’re sure that you’ve already heard this so-called silver lining a million times before starting school, which is not exactly helpful, so we’ll get on to the advice.

We’ve both been in the exact same situation as you’re in right now. And in our experience, it's best to start small. Make one friend, then another. It really is about quality, not quantity. Not only is it overwhelming to feel like you need to have an entire crew to run around campus, but becoming besties with ten people at once just doesn’t work. We’ve written before about the problem with so-called squads and—no disrespect to Taylor Swift—the unnecessary societal pressure it puts on girls.

Instead, try to meet one (or, if you’re really lucky, two) amazing people during your first few days of school. It could happen at orientation, the library, a club fair, or even in the dining hall. Liza, for example, met her longtime best friend after she sat down at her lunch table the first week of college.

That said, keep in mind that not every friend you make has to be a best friend. It's okay to have class friends and study friends and yoga friends and dorm friends, and it's okay if all of those never overlap. Cliques are totally overrated.

As for actually making the friends, it really comes down to just striking up a conversation. There's no shortcut, and it's not easy. Sometimes talking to potential friends doesn't lead anywhere. After all, you're not going to be pals with everyone. But that's fine! It's really important to remind yourself that forming a friendship takes time. It's not going to happen in a day, and it probably won't even happen in a week. But it's never not worth it.

As for when you don’t feel like socializing, just don’t. Give yourself a break. Put yourself out there sometimes, but also keep yourself sane and happy. If that means staying in your dorm room with headphones on and the sheets pulled over your head, so be it. In the words of every self-help author ever, be a good friend to yourself first.

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