Overcoming Shyness in College


Most media shows the ultimate american college experience as a never-ending party. Okay, I exaggerate, but when I think of how my college days “should” be going by, it’s nothing close to what they actually are. Part of the reason for that is because I am shy and an introvert – I’d much rather spend some quality time on my own than parade my social awkwardness in front of people. Unfortunately, because of this, I feel like I am missing a lot of chances that I could be taking during my time at UW.

With a huge study abroad trip coming up, I figured it’s a good chance for me to boost my attitude a bit and take the opportunity to get busy, go out and socialize (starting my life with a clean slate, people!). So at the risk of sounding a little pathetic, I prepared a short checklist of things I’d like to do and improve upon during the next 6 months in England.

1. Be More Social

Yeah, I know it’s easier said than done. But in order to meet more people it only makes sense to force yourself to talk a bit more, be in public places more often. Joining an interest group or a club (at school or even on Facebook… but only to get event notifications!) can be a great start.

2. Challenge my comfort zone

Throughout high school, my teachers kept repeating that all great things happen outside of your comfort zone. I think I became anxious just thinking about getting out of it :) Although I’d like to say that now is a great time to start challenging myself, I now realize that there’s never the ‘right’ time to do it. Little by little, in small steps, it’s possible to overcome yourself and do something you haven’t done yet any day. This quote sums it up perfectly:

“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.”

– Robert S. Sharma

3. Cut Down on Electronics

O the time I wasted on my phone, Facebook, Netflix, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter…We all have this list. When I think about all the times I stayed home to watch a show instead of going out somewhere, I cringe! Sure, texting and messaging friends is cool and feels almost real, but think about all the opportunities around us we are missing just to stare in those tiny screens! This goal is pretty simple, and hopefully will be easy to achieve. Maybe the international data charges will play on my side!

4. Participate in Class

I always have a ton of questions in class, but always feel like they’re not important enough to ask. So instead of raising my hand or going into office hours afterwards, I tend to forget them. In the end it not only affects my grades, but I also lose the chance to meet curious students with interesting ideas in my classes. Having an open mind and broad horizons really helps in life, and it starts with meeting people like that to get inspired.

~ These goals are not super-specific for a reason: everyone has different comfort zones. Whatever or wherever they are, I think it’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable in some situations and confident in others. But that very confidence can open so many doors that it’s just a shame to realize that an opportunity has passed by and I didn’t take it because I was afraid to make a step above my comfort level. Overcoming shyness is a slow and difficult personal process, but it can be done little by little. Be brave, take chances and seize the day, people!

What do you do to overcome your shyness? Any goals for the following year?