It’s easy for people who are very outgoing and talkative to meet new people. But people often think introverts like us are shy, standoffish, or unapproachable. But the truth is, we’re like everyone else: we want to make friends, have fun, and get out there. We get you. That’s why we’ve put this guide together: to help introverts get out there without setting off anxieties or fears.
Understand Your Kind of Introversion
The first thing to recognize know about introverts is that we’re not all alike. There are actually four commonly recognized types of introverts: Social, Thinking, Anxious, and Restrained. Understanding which category you fall in can help you realize and act on your strengths and weaknesses.
First, there are two groups who actually do occasionally like being around people. Social introverts are those who would rather hang out in small groups or for more limited amounts of time. Thinking introverts are creative, imaginative, dreaming types who sometimes may seem to space out or be lost in deep thought, especially around bigger groups of people. Both these types need plenty of alone time to recharge, but they enjoy being around people, especially those with whom they’re more familiar.
On the other end of the spectrum are the highly introverted introverts. The most common of these are anxious introverts, who are what we commonly think of when we use the term ‘introvert’: shy, awkward, resistant to new groups, and unlikely to actively seek out new friends. Finally, restrained introverts are those who need time to get to know new friends to build trust because they take their social circles very, very seriously.
Go Where You’re Comfortable
With all of those four types of introversion, the key is to go to a place that is comfortable to meet new friends. Social and anxious introverts would love smaller clubs or group outings while restrained prefers one-on-one. Thinkers will need to be in their element, like at a library or an art show.
Now that you’re getting used to your school, think about where you feel the most “you” and look for opportunities there that will allow you to meet someone. It may be in your favorite writing class where you can offer to do group work. Or if you love your theater, try going to a show or volunteering to work as an usher.
Take It Online
I don’t know about you, but as an introvert, I really rock an online convo on Messenger or Snapchat. That’s why I am super excited when I find online meeting groups where I can introduce myself first without the pressure of small talk.
Once you’re comfortable and you’ve established yourself, take your new relationship or clubs offline. Invite a face you interact with the most out for a coffee or cheer them on at their soccer game. It’s a great way to build close friendships without the awkward first meetings.
How I made my best friend was through my roommate! She was much more extroverted than me and would often throw parties (against my wishes). But once I told her about how shy I felt, she calmed down and had fewer people stop over. One of those regulars became my friend and eventually best friend once we hung out without the “link” between us.
With mutual connections, you always have something in common, and there is no pressure to be best friends if you decide they are not the right fit. By having one person to hold on to, you can open your circle up for more friendship opportunities.
Go Where the People Are
I know it’s tough, but devote yourself to leaving your dorm room at least once a day for a certain amount of time. And don’t spend it with your headphones in your ears. Be present and open! But most importantly — go where others are!
This may mean sitting alone at lunch or snagging a seat near the main tables at the coffee shop with a smile on your face. Bring something like a book, a musical instrument, a favorite purse, etc. as a talking point. It’s awful at first, I will admit, but it works, and it will change your introvert outlook.