Too many introverts want to improve their social lives, but don’t know where to start. This is especially hard for those who are shy and uncomfortable meeting new people. If you are more of a strict loner type and don’t want to make friends then this article isn’t for you. This is for those who are willing to take steps, within, or slightly outside of their comfort zone to make friends and have an active social life.
In this article I’m going to cover:
- The ideal living arrangements
- How to find groups of like-minded people
- The easy way to make friends without being really outgoing
This is definitely going to help you out if you’re feeling overwhelmed or intimidated about making friends in college so keep reading.
Where you live and who you live with are big factors for your social life in college.
The first thing to consider is the roommate situation. As an introvert, you will need your space so you want to have a roommate that is respectful of that.
There are several different scenarios you might find yourself in. The first one is a freshman entering university and living in the dorms. I don’t have firsthand experience with this because I took classes at a community college in my hometown my Freshman year. (Since I was paying for school myself I thought this was a good option, but looking back I wouldn’t recommend this. But that’s a topic for another post.)
During that time I lived in a house with 3 other guys, but I’ll get to that in a second. First let me share with you some strategies to make the most of the dorms, based on what some of my friends did.
This is not medical or legal advice.
First off, you should really consider getting a roommate in the dorms. Breaking out of your comfort zone is good for you and forces you to grow as a person. However, if you just can’t stand the thought of that or if you can’t find a solid roommate – there is another option.
Get a single person dorm. This is a great solution, because you still get all of the social benefits of living in the dorms but you’ll have privacy when you want it.
You’ll likely have to pay extra for a single room and they fill up quickly so get on it right away! At some schools you just put in a simple request and that’s it, but at most schools you will need to provide serious justification for it.
DO NOT tell them it’s because you’re shy. They will think you need to have roommates and won’t approve you.
Instead you need to provide a medical reason. There’s not much room around this part, because many schools will check up on this – so you need to consult with a real doctor.
It’s not difficult though. Just go to your doctor and have an honest conversation with him/her about how easily you get distracted. Don’t try to use this as an opportunity to score some adderall (unless they insist and you are interested in it) or anything, just make it clear that private space is important for you to do your best in school.
If you have a history of social anxiety then you should bring that up as well. The point is, just have a genuine conversation about your concerns and kindly ask for a note that recommends you have a single dorm.
Now let’s assume you are no longer in the dorms. Before moving into a place you need to consider two things:
The roommate(s) you choose is crucial. I’ve had shitty roommates, awesome roommates and then a combination of both.
You need to be extremely picky about roommates. I made the mistake of not being picky when I lived in that house I mentioned. What was the result? Living in filth, bills not getting paid, crazy parties til’ 4 in the morning several nights of the week (okay, I didn’t mind that sometimes. But on a Tuesday or Wednesday when I had to go to school and work, come on! ) and no respect for personal space.
When I got to OU (University of Oklahoma) a year later I vowed to not make that mistake again. I found a guy who was more of an acquaintance than a friend who was responsible, tidy and respectful. Over the years he became one of my closest friends because we got along so well as roommates.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to pick a high quality roommate. It’s a terrible feeling to dread going home. As an introvert, you need your home to be a place where you can recharge. You absolutely cannot afford to have a roommate who stresses you out.
I also suggest not living with close friends. It can work and I’ve done it, but it usually ends up ruining the friendship. Like I said, I became close friends with my roommate AFTER we had established the roommate relationship. Later I lived with a different close friend for my last semester and it worked out, but we both had such busy schedules at that time that we weren’t home much anyway.
Now let’s talk about location.
Location, location, location – not only the most important factor for traditional businesses, but also for where you live.
Pick a location that aids your social life. My first year (of too many) at OU we lived in a location that was a bit out of the way, but it was incredibly cheap. None of our other friends lived over there and there was this train we had to wait for sometimes that would make me late for class.
Then I convinced my roommate to move with me to a better location, which nearly doubled our monthly rent. It was well worth it though. The location was amazing!
It was the closest apartment property to campus and we had a lot of friends who already lived there.
You want to setup a scenario where your social life finds you with minimal effort.
While living in that complex, there was never a time when I couldn’t find someone to hang out with if I wanted. Just by living in that location, which was also close to the popular bar district, everyone naturally wanted to come over to our place. Which is great because we could take a free cab to the bars and back so I never had to worry about leaving my car at someone else’s place.
Look for a location that has a social life built in. Introverts tend to not go out of their way to make friends, so if it isn’t convenient you probably won’t meet as many people.
Identify Potential Social Circles
Forget about what things you do for fun. What do you want to do for fun? College is the time to try new things and gain new experiences.
Do you want to go to parties and go out to the local bars? Do you want to pick up an instrument and form a band? Do you want to get active and find people who like to play sports and workout?
Just think of all the things you would like to do and choose 1 or 2 to focus on at first. You’ll have plenty of time for more as time goes on.
For each of those above scenarios, there are different personalities involved. What kind of people do you want to be around? Do you want to be around artsy and creative people? Do you want to be around people who are focused on school and driven to excel in life? Get an idea of what kind of people you’d like to surround yourself with.
As I’ve discussed before, you should avoid negative people at all costs.
Once you’ve got an idea of what what social circles you’d like to be a part of, move on to the next step.
Find a Social Concierge
A social concierge is a person, a socialite, who can dramatically change your social life in a short amount of time.
I’m not using the word socialite in a negative way here either. In my opinion there are 2 types of socialites:
Connectors are people who love making connections. These are the most powerful networkers that exist in business and in social realms.
Connectors, like collectors, like to have lots of friends. However, they still care about the quality of those friends and are more interested in connecting others to each other than connecting people to themselves.
Collectors, on the other hand, are only interested in amassing a cult following. These people keep lots of friends around to boost their ego.
The dead giveaway that someone is a collector instead of a connector is that they don’t like when people break off into smaller groups from the big group they have established. Collectors are also the type that get mad at you when you don’t want to hang out with them, calling you sketchy.
Any person who has to guilt people into hanging out with them is the sketchy one. The fact that they get mad at you for not hanging out with them shows that they are selfish and care more about being rejected than spending time with you. Or else they would be sad, not mad.
You want to stay far away from collectors. They are usually very insecure people who constantly have to boost their egos at the expense of others. Also, they rarely form genuine friendships with people. They are more interested in the quantity of friendships than quality. Once you aren’t around them anymore, you are out-of-sight-out-of-mind.
Connectors are always looking to introduce like-minded people to each other and don’t have a claim on any of their friends. They also don’t tolerate bullshit from anyone in the group. If you are doing wrong by other people in the group, you’re out.
Collectors welcome as many sociopaths as they can find, because it makes them feel more sane. You’ll find that collectors often talk bad about their “friends” behind their back, but never end those friendships because they can’t stand to see their friend-count go down.
Find a connector in your desired social circle.
For every social circle that exists, there is (9 times out of 10) a connector who organizes everything.
The hard part is just physically getting yourself to the place. After that, the rest is a breeze.
You have to give before you can receive, so don’t expect them to always find you. You simply figure out who the connector is and introduce yourself. (They won’t be hard to find) They will handle the rest.
Surely it can’t be that easy… can it?
The beauty of this is that connectors are always looking to meet new people. Not only that, they especially love to help out those who are shy, new to the area, or just don’t have many friends in general.
Just be yourself and they will guide you in the right direction.
That’s their thing, it’s what makes them tick. They want to help you – so let them.
I never did this technique on purpose, it just kind of happened naturally. It wasn’t until a friend of mine recently accused me of not being an introvert. (the nerve of this guy, right?) He said because I have always had an active social life that I couldn’t be an introvert.
That’s when I explained that I’ve always happened to find friends who had lots of friends. I don’t see anything wrong with doing that intentionally, as long as you aren’t trying to use these people. You should be looking for genuine connections here. I’m just trying to show you a way to speed up the process.
I call this system the “plug and play social life” because you don’t really have to do much work or step out of your comfort zone too much. You are just looking to put yourself in a position where a social life happens naturally.
Now, I feel I should mention something here. Being an introvert, you will be inclined to turn down most invitations – but that is a mistake. If you say no to everything people invite you to, they will eventually stop inviting you. They won’t be doing this out of spite, most likely, they are just taking the hint that you are sending them. If you are shy, it will be good for you to break out of your shell a little bit and keep a healthy social life. When you don’t feel like joining in, make sure to thank the person for the invite and assure them you will make it next time – then follow up and actually go the next time.
There’s no point in taking the time to build a social life if you aren’t going to maintain it. I’m not saying you need to roll 30 deep in the club every weekend, I’m just saying you have to be willing to maintain the friendships that matter.
As always, we need balance. I’m not encouraging you to build a social life that occupies ALL of your time, unless you want that. I just want to help those who would like to be more social but aren’t sure how.
I hope this helps you out. Let me know in the comments if there’s a certain situation you’re struggling with. If you don’t feel comfortable with that you can always email me from the contact page and I’ll help you out.
Until Next Time,
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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