Useful tips to overcome shyness

By Hayley Devitt

If you’re like me, being sociable is a struggle. You could say being shy is just part of who we are.

Meeting new friends when coming to a four-year university can be especially daunting. Being away from home for possibly the first time and not knowing anyone can be difficult.

However, this will also be one of the defining moments in your life. There are ways to overcome your shyness and make your years at NIU more enjoyable in the long run.

Change your environment

Maybe you’re still shy because you’ve gotten too comfortable with not talking. In my experience, working as a waitress helped a lot with my conversation-with-strangers skills. Sure, it felt really awkward at times, and I wasn’t very good at first. But that’s the beauty in meeting scores of new people every day: You get practice.

Join an organized activity

Whatever you’re into, NIU probably has a club for it. A prime example of this would be Humans vs. Zombies. The advantage of joining an organization is that you’ll be around people with the same interests as you, and on a fairly regular basis. College isn’t like high school—it’s really hard to find friends here. For that reason, the Huskie Marching Band has been especially good for me. With the amount of hours we put in together, we have no choice but to become like a second family.

Talk to people on the bus

Your brain might be telling you, “Stranger Danger. No can do,” but trust me on this. Anything as simple as complimenting a passenger on his or her outfit or saying, “Cool tattoos,” can do wonders for your ability to open up to fellow students. Your kind words can also boost someone else’s mood.

Exchange contact information with someone in class

This way, you and a classmate will have each other to ask about assignments and maybe even arrange for study sessions at the Junction.

Stand up for yourself

You know better than anyone that you don’t need to call people nasty names or use foul language to get your point across. However, if someone is pushing you around—maybe because you’re quiet and that makes it too easy to resist—you don’t have to put up with it. Say enough is enough and tackle your problem head-on, only do so with the gentleness and maturity you’ve cultivated all these years. Confrontation does not have to be aggressive.

If college is all new to you, just remember this: you may have been that quiet, reserved little mouse in the past, but here you can be whoever you want. Now is your chance to somewhat reinvent yourself and go after things you may have hesitated on before.