Starting Uni can be tough: moving away from home, leaving your friends behind, having to make a whole new group of friends. All these things might seem hard enough to deal with as it is, starting University with social anxiety can feel even harder to manage. But believe it or not: you can still have just as much fun as everyone else. Here’s some of the tricks I picked up:
Pack a door stop
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Leaving your door open is the best way to make friends at Uni. It’s subtle (so you can avoid the awkward approach and introduction stage) but I guarantee it will encourage at least one person to come in and critique your record collection. You’ll be bursting into each other’s rooms unannounced before you know it.
Ditch your headphones
I know, I know, the comfort blanket of introverts everywhere. The thing is, people with social anxiety often use headphones as a kind of barrier between them and what’s going on outside. And if it helps you feel more comfortable, that’s great. But if you rely on them too much you’re going to get more cut off from the outside than is healthy. Try ditching them every now and then. You might even remember what birds sound like.
Don’t sweat the parties
There’s this huge assumption that first year (and particularly Fresher’s) is one big party. And, okay, there’s lots of nights out – but this dies out and gets boring a lot quicker than you might think. Don’t feel pressured to go out or to drink more than you’re comfortable with. I was the Queen of cancelling nights out to stay in with a cup of tea watching Game of Thrones, and no one ever really minded.
Hit the gym
Most Unis will have an on-campus gym (or, if not, there’s bound to be one in the city) and when I started Uni, one of the first things my flatmates and I did was hit it together. Aside from the obvious health advantages (a diet of discount pizza and instant noodles is likely to leave you feeling a little sluggish) hitting the gym takes you straight out of your comfort zone. “Exercise? In public?” I hear you cry – yes! As horrible as it might seem, it’s throwing you straight in at the deep end, which is usually what you need. And tackling it with your friends leaves plenty of opportunities for a laugh.
Talk to someone
Drop your personal tutor an email, make an appointment with the counselling team, stop by student services, whatever. If you’re starting University with social anxiety its probably worth disclosing this when you arrive. If you’re struggling and you don’t think you can cope on your own, there’s so much support on offer that I can pretty much guarantee there will be something that’s right for you.
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