An introvert’s nightmare is walking into a friend of a friend of a friend’s party where the only person you know is that friend who dragged you along. You remain at your friend’s hip as they catch up with the people they know, not having much to contribute to their conversation. The small talk that you do make feels strained, and you know that guy who is practically soaked in booze won’t remember your name tomorrow anyway. You also feel stuck there because you’re probably the DD, and your friend is way too drunk to walk home.
Parties can be fun when you’re surrounded by your friends, but if you’re a first-year at UNC or even if you’re just trying to expand your friend group, how do you meet more people in the first place?
Here are some tips for introverted-leaning people looking to branch out:
- Find a favorite coffee shop. Coffee shops are great in that they are public spaces where it is both socially acceptable to keep to yourself or make small talk. If you’re feeling especially introverted, you can always pull out your laptop and put on your focused study face. If you’re in the mood to be bold, though, you can chat with the barista a little, or spark a low-stakes conversation with the person next to you by asking for the Wifi password.
- Take out your headphones! This signals to others that you’re making an effort to be appear approachable. This might mean walking around campus without the physical divide of wearing headphones, or looking up when you’re walking across the quad.
- Hang out with people one-on-one, or in small groups. Navigating social interactions always feels a lot easier when you don’t feel like you’re competing in a conversation with the more outspoken people of the group.
- Introverted doesn’t have to mean shy. You can appreciate your solo time and still be a self-assured person. I’ve found that while timidness is a common side effect of introversion, it doesn’t have to be. Try to examine why social interactions may make you nervous. Is it that you feel awkward in conversation with strangers? Do you feel like you may come across as cold if you aren’t loving the scene at that frat party? Asking these questions will help to identify a good starting point to work on becoming more confident.
- Ask your closer friends to introduce you to their other friends. Maybe you could all catch a movie at the Varsity or discuss how your classes are draining you at Cosmic Cantina.
- Go up to the person you have a friend crush on after class. You could talk about the subject material and make plans to study or you could compliment them on something they’re wearing. More often than not, they will respond positively to you and will appreciate you taking the time to notice and talk to them.
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