The Shyness Project

Archive for the category “Month 9 Make New Friends”

Looking Glass Self: What you see is what you get

There’s a theory in sociology called “looking glass self”.

This theory basically states that we are socialized to accept the judgment of others and reflect it back to others.

To illustrate what I mean, imagine you’re at a party and you don’t know anyone. You notice that the people look at you with friendly faces and appear to like you.  So in response, you act friendly and smile back at them.

You have a positive experience because you have a positive perception.

On the other hand, what if the opposite occurs?  What if you notice that people are looking at you with blank faces, and seem to be whispering about you and judging you?  In return you may act defensive, hang back, and give off signals that you don’t like them either.

Perceptions can be wrong.  But all we have to go by are our perceptions.

And because of this, I have found that being in the right mindset is extremely important in making friends.

I’ve heard some of my former high school classmates who are going to the same school as I am directly say that the people there aren’t friendly.  They’re mean and they stare at you.  And I’ve read status updates on Facebook of people who say that they feel so lonely at this school because they don’t know anyone, and they haven’t made any friends.

These remarks were a total surprise to me.  I’m going to the exact same school as them, so how could I have had such a completely different experience?  I had an amazing first week of school, and made several friends.  I was thrilled at the prospect of being able to talk to anybody in the school and become friends with them.  It was a whole new ball park for me, and was nothing like the cliquey and divided high school I attended.

Why was my experience so different from several of my former classmates?

Without a doubt, it was because my perceptions were different.  In my eager pursuit of seeking out new friends, I unknowingly had the perception that each person I approached was friendly and just as hopeful to make friends as I was.

And you know what?  That perception turned out to be very true.  Every time I mentioned that I was hoping to meet new people and make new friends, the person I had started talking to said that they wanted to do the very same thing.

I know making friends isn’t always easy.  I had to initiate a majority of the friendships I’ve made, but all it took was for me to open my mouth and say something to them, anything.  In my experience, asking a question has been the easiest way to start a conversation.   In particular, during the first week of school it is very easy to ask someone a question, like “Is this the textbook we need?” or “This is speech class with Mrs. East right?”  And from there, you can introduce yourself, they’ll introduce themselves, and then you can talk about college and majors if you like.  If you don’t know someone and you’re in a certain setting like school, talking about that setting is a great way to get talking.  And by the end of the conversation, all you have to do is ask to exchange contact information.  Facebook is a great way to go, and cell numbers work well too.  Then be sure to keep in touch with them, and before you know it, you’ve made a friend!  Simple as that.

When you hold a positive perception that people are friendly, then you are going to get positive results back.  So be sure to take notice of how you’re viewing a situation or a group of people, because your perceptions have more power in determining your experiences than you may realize.

The Secret Note

A lot has happened since the first week of school, and it would take several posts to go over it all, so I’ll give an overview.

Basically, college has been great.  Even though it’s community college, I’ve managed to make several friends and I’m meeting some interesting people (interesting in a good way!).  I’ve hung out with a few of them outside of class after initiating we do so through a text or at school and what not, and that’s brought me closer to them.  Yuli, K, and Johanna I’ve all gotten to hang out with outside of school and I like them a lot.  I’m making several friendships in each of my classes and have made an effort to talk to as many people around me as I can.  Some of those people I may not become close friends with, but it’s good to have a friendly classroom relationship with them I think.  Facebook has been of course helpful for getting to know some of them better.

I’ve found that the few times I’ve been on my own for lunch, I can’t help but want to talk to the people around me.  It’s like I’m in “friend mode” all the time now and I can’t turn it off.  Even when it’s a quiet area like a study hall, I secretly hope someone will not be too invested in their homework and will try to talk to me.  It’s kind of funny.

The first time I sat on my own at a table I witnessed a guy come out of the cafeteria with a lunch he just bought and ask to sit down at a table where a girl was sitting doing her homework.  She smiled and said of course.  He sat there quietly, munching on his lunch.  She kept studying. At the end, when he finished his lunch and packed up to leave, he slipped a piece of paper over to her, and walked away.  I couldn’t help but watch her open it. I saw her expression change from a neutral look to a big smile and she laughed out loud and shook her head and just kept smiling, and reached for her phone to text her friend.

What did the note say?  Did he compliment her?  Did he leave his number?  Did he thank her for allowing him to sit with her or wish her luck with her test?  I wondered what the note said and smiled, feeling very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to see that.  The note seemed to totally make her day and it was so cute to witness.  I got the feeling that it was just a friendly message meant to brighten her day, and I just thought that was really cool.  I wouldn’t have minded if he had sat next to me!

Then a girl comes and asks if she can sit next to me, and excited I say “Please do!” She sits next to me, and I keep fumbling through my notes for a little while, and she looks at her phone.  Inspired by the incident I just witnessed, I start talking to her, asking her about the pizza that she got to start.  She was friendly and it was easy to keep talking to her, and we talked about college related things a while.  Afterward she said it was really nice talking to me, and I resisted the urge to ask to swap facebooks, and simply said it was nice talking to her too.

That is just one story of many, but I do need to get on to a new goal soon so I won’t be able to post a lot of the other ones.  I am planning to write a *book* though and will be able to include a lot more in there!   The new year is approaching quickly, and 2011 is coming to a close.  It went by so fast!

The Power of Facebook: Making friends has never been easier

Up until a few years ago, this communication tool didn’t even exist.

Cell phones were available, and emails were too, but then came along something that revolutionized the way people communicated.

Social networking sites.  And in particular, facebook.

I first made a facebook account in my freshman year of high school.  At first, I didn’t understand how it worked and didn’t care for it much.  Few people I knew had facebook then and I only created it because a few friends wanted me to.

Now, it has become an everyday part of my life, for better or for worse.

On my friend search, I’ve discovered facebook to be an incredibly helpful tool.  Making friends and keeping in touch with people has never been easier.  No longer do I have to rely on phone numbers to get in touch with a new friend or an old one.  Facebook has made the process of friending much more convenient.  (Granted, it’s important to talk on the phone from time to time, but electronic communication has its benefits too.)

Before when I had to call people up from my classes, it was very nerve-racking.  Sometimes the people wouldn’t recognize who was calling or wondered why I was calling, and the response wasn’t the one I’d hoped to receive.  Most of the time it went ok, but I still disliked not having any other resource to contact people than through my home phone.  Now that I have a cell phone and have access to texting, and now that I have facebook, I’ve been able to keep in touch with people much more easily.

When I meet someone new that I want to get to know better now, instead of just asking for a number, I ask for their name or email so we can add each other on facebook.  Once this is done, it’s simple to get in touch with them.  I also get to learn some more about them through what they share on facebook.  In particular, photo sharing is my favorite aspect of facebook, because if I take any pictures with them while we’re hanging out, I can easily just post them on facebook rather than having to email each individual with the photos.  This was a slow process and probably would be even more difficult now that the quality and file size of my pictures has gotten rather large.  It’s much more convenient to share pictures and information with friends through this site.

Facebook has really become a part of our lives as much as cell phones have.  It has made a lot of my friending much easier and much more possible, so I thank Mark Zuckerberg for that.

Deja vu- The first day all over again

Usually, there is only one first day of school.

For me, however, there were two.

I am taking classes at two different community colleges. I’m doing this so I can get all the classes I want my first semester instead of only having a few options as a new student.

My first day at one of my colleges was great, but how was the first day at my other college going to go?  The butterflies returned at the prospect of having to go through the first day of school all over again.

Soon enough, the time came and I set foot in my first class of my first day at this college, my Career and Life Planning. I was looking forward to it because I think the subject of career choice is fascinating and I’m hoping this class will help me figure out what I want to do. I’ve already done so much research on my own, but I hope I’ll get something helpful out of this class.

I talked to the girl sitting next to me right away, and she was really friendly. In class, an activity started where we had to go around the room and find someone who fits one category on a space, like someone who loves music, or who had a leadership position in school, or who volunteers. It seemed a little silly to me at the time but I know the teacher was just trying to get us all acquainted with each other. I briefly met a majority of my classmates, and even won a candy bar for being one of the first people to turn in my sheet with all the squares filled out with signatures from each person in the class.  Woot!

Next, I headed for my Intro to Sociology class. When I entered through the doors, I saw that every seat in the class was taken. Every seat. I had no choice but to sit on the floor, so I did. Soon others came in and had to stand or find somewhere to sit on the ground as well. The room was packed with people hoping to add her class. The teacher is supposedly one of the best Sociology teachers this college has ever had, and she’s won teacher of the year awards. I was excited at the prospect of getting to learn from her, and was hoping I’d be able to add.

We all waited a little while, but there was no sign of her. But then, the door crashed open and a tall white haired woman charged forcefully down the aisle to the front of the room, yelling for everyone to put away their cell phones, and ranting that if she ever saw one out again she’d kick the person out of the class. Several people looked offended and astounded, or slightly spooked, and I could tell that some people would drop. She continued to say that she would not tolerate any talking once class begun, and anyone who talked while she was talking would be asked to leave. There are no excuses in her class, nothing can be late, and there are no make ups. Her tests consist only of essay questions, because she doesn’t believe in multiple choice tests. There would only be three tests all year, and 3 research papers.

I had read that she tries to scare people away the first day and comes off as really strict and tough, but that she is actually one of the most caring teachers on campus. Her attempt to scare us didn’t work on me, and I happily added my name to the add list when she said anyone who showed up today and wanted to learn she would teach.  I had emailed her before asking to add, and she had first sent back an automatic message that said she had over 100 people requesting to add and that she wasn’t giving out add codes before class.  I wrote back saying that was a ton of people and clearly shows what a sought out teacher she is, and that I was hoping to add but I’d probably have to try again another semester.  I said I was hoping to take her class because I’d heard she was an excellent teacher and I wanted to learn what Sociology was about.  To my surprise, she wrote back saying it was her last semester, and she said to come to the first class and introduce myself and she was sure that I had a pretty good chance of getting in.

I was a little nervous to approach her after the big scary image she had presented of herself, but felt like since I had said I would introduce myself, that I should. After adding my name to the add list, I said, “Hi my name is Brittany, I emailed you over the summer about adding your class, and I said I would introduce myself, so I wanted to be sure and do that.” I held my hand out and we shook hands and she smiled and touched my arm and said she was really glad I made it to her class and was going to add. She asked if I’d gotten the books already and I said that I had, and I was looking forward to her class. It was a nice friendly exchange and probably made a good first impression on her.

Next I had speech class. I started talking to the lady next to me, Heather. On the first day we were given an assignment to interview the person next to us in class, so we ended up interviewing each other and another woman joined our group too since there was an odd number. Heather’s a mom of three teenagers and I learned some miscellaneous facts about her. The following class we would have to introduce our partner to the class, so I tried to find out some things that I thought would be interesting to share.

All in all the first day of this college went well too, though my previous first day was even better in my opinion. It was a good day though and I was glad to be done with both of my first days!

Expanding My Circle

On my second day of community college, I had lunch with Yuli again.  Only this time, I asked another guy in our class nicknamed K if he wanted to eat with us.

On the first day when Yuli and I were wandering around together, we ran into K from our international relations class.  We were at the cafeteria looking at the menu when I heard someone call my name, and I turned around to see K there!  He had a big smile on his face and was happy to see us. We of course were glad to see him too.

I suspected that he had a similar schedule to us, so near the end of class the next day I asked if he wanted to have lunch with us.  He said “Sure!”

It was great having him with us.  He showed us around the school and pointed out various things that I probably would have never known.  He was really easy to talk to and it was cool getting to know him.  He’s had a lot of interesting life experiences, from traveling, to the military, and so forth.

Now Yuli, K, and I have become a close group of friends and we spend nearly every lunch together at this school. (I’m attending two schools.)  I’m really glad I started talking with both of them that first day and got to meet them.  They’re both really great, down-to-earth people and I love learning more about their different cultures.  We’re “facebook official” friends, have swapped numbers, and all that good stuff!  I feel like I’ve known them a while now even though it has only been a month. And I feel comfortable being myself around them, not having to talk every moment.  It’s nice.  Really nice.  K likes to tease me from time to time and is always smiling and makes me smile, and Yuli calls me “Britt” which I secretly love because it makes me feel like we’re close.  I don’t get called Britt too often except by my brother Andrew or my good friend Brian, and it reminds me of them too.

So the second day was awesome as well, and I will update you all about several of the other days soon!

My First Day of College (Part II)

PART 2 Continued from Part 1

I was feeling pumped after my great start to the day and marched into my first class, International Relations, with confidence. 

I did a silly thing however and planted myself at a desk isolated from people already seated.  That was kind of dumb.  You can’t talk to people if you aren’t sitting next to people.  Luckily, the seats around me filled quickly.  The room was uncomfortably quiet, however, and I hesitated to break the silence.

Even so, I turned to my left and started talking to the girl next to me.  I introduced myself and she did the same.  When I asked her where she went to high school, I thought she said the name of my town!  I thought that was crazy!  Excited, I said, “Really?!  Me too!  How do I not know you?”

She looked at me, confused.  Then I felt confused.  “You did say (name of my town), right?”

“No I said Indonesia!” she exclaimed.

I laughed at the mix up, and admitted with an amused smile that I wasn’t from Indonesia then.

She smiled.  She told me she’d only been here (the U.S.) a month, which surprised me and I told her.  She has great English!  She was flattered and thanked me for saying that.  I was talking a lot to her and asking questions, and I actually started to worry I was talking TOO much.  I decided to be a little quieter.

I found out that she had a similar schedule to me and we both had about a two hour break after this class before our next classes.  I thought about asking her if she wanted to have lunch, but I was afraid that I had talked too much earlier and she might find me annoying.  I decided to not ask in case I was being overly friendly.

The class started and the syllabus was intimidating with all the work to be done in the class.  We were given an assignment and were told we could work with other people around us.  To summarize, I introduced myself to Erica in front of me, K to my diagonal, and Aileen on my right, and brought Yuli into the group too.  The teacher beamed at us as were introducing ourselves and laughing- the assignment was baffling us all (filling in the countries of a blank Middle East map). To my surprise, many of the others in the class stuck to themselves in hesitation.

After class we all gathered our things, and Erica turned to say bye to me before she left.  I stood up to leave and Yuli did too, and wouldn’t you know it, she said “Come! Let’s have lunch together!”

I was delightfully surprised that she wanted to have lunch and was relieved that I hadn’t talked too much earlier.  I smiled and said “Yeah that would be great!”

So we had lunch together and she told me all about Indonesia and I told her about America.  Our cultures and experiences didn’t really sound that different.  We wandered around the campus together and it was really nice.  I felt comfortable with her already.  I noticed several people on their own at lunch reading or whatever else.  I was glad I had made a friend already and didn’t have to eat alone.

After nearly two hours of talking, walking, and sitting, it was time to part ways for our classes, and I swapped numbers with her too.

Swing dance class was next.  Soon enough, I started talking with one of the girls waiting outside the class.  Turns out she’s a professional belly dancer despite her petite figure.  We stuck together the rest of the class.

Afterward in salsa class, I was approached for the first time.  The guy leaning against the wall next to me started talking to me, and I was glad someone came up to me.  When we entered the class he met another guy, and then I met the other guy too, and we all became friends.  We lined up side by side smiling as we got ready to learn the salsa.  They were both friendly, nice guys and I was glad we had already become friends.

And that concludes my first day of college.  It could not have gone any better!

My First Day of College (Part I)

My eyes darted from each passing stony face.  My heart pounded.  Butterflies infiltrated my stomach.

It felt like the first day of high school all over again.

Except this time, I was completely on my own.

I had arrived an hour early.  I took a little tour of the campus to waste time.  I only walked to the library before I turned around, however, and returned to the building near my first class.

There were a lot of people sitting on the benches outside the Liberal Arts building.  Some were with another person.  Some were alone.  Those alone, however, had ipod earbuds smashed in their ears or a cellphone or book glued to their fingers.

A hopeful conversationalist’s dream.

Not.

I decided to sit between two girls who were spread out on their respective ends of one seating area.  On my right, the girl was plugged in to her ipod.  On my left, the girl was texting.  But, she was looking up every once in a while, and was only texting occasionally.

I sat there feeling a bit awkward at first.  I concentrated my attention to my jacket sleeve which had some loose strings and then flipped mindlessly through my International Relations textbook.  The boys across from me on the opposite seating area stared at me like they could see through my calm façade.  I decided to shut off my imagination and not project my own feelings onto them.

As I was glancing up quite a bit, I noticed the girl texting was looking up quite a bit too and seemed kind of bored.

So I decided to try talking to her.

“Is this your first time at college?” I finally asked, turning to her.

“Yeah I had my first class earlier,” she replied, turning to me and smiling.

“Oh cool!  It’s my first day here too!”

And that, my friends, was the start of what ended up being a 45 minute conversation with a stranger.  It was a long time to talk to someone I knew nothing about, but it went well.  It did not feel awkward at all.  Just being in the same setting, college, gave us plenty to talk about.  As it was about time for our next class, I suggested swapping numbers, and we did!

I was feeling pumped after my great start to the day and marched into my first class, International Relations, with confidence…

(Stay tuned for Part II…) *This is like a comic book!*

Make New Friends

Public speaking was a great challenge.  It was probably the hardest one yet because being the center of attention like that brings out the natural shyness in many of us.

I honestly did not feel confident that I was going to be able undertake Toastmasters and public speaking.  I’ve always hated presentations and even the word “presentation” or “oral report” was enough to make my stomach churn and my heart race.  In the past I’ve worried weeks before presentations in school and have had trouble sleeping and concentrating on anything else but the presentation.

Of course, I still get nervous for a presentation. I still worry about forgetting what I’m saying or making a fool of myself.  But I’ve gotten a lot better at quieting my negative voice and magnifying my positive voice.  This has definitely helped reduce the time I’ve spent worrying about an upcoming presentation or speech.  I’ve felt less stressed.

Even though I’m moving on to my next goal now, I am continuing with Toastmasters, like I have continued with my other goals.  It is a fairly big time commitment since it is every week, but I know that the benefits of this educational program will be extraordinary.

But now, it is time for another goal.

It’s time…to make new friends.

High school ended.  College is starting.  It’s the prime time for me to move out of my comfort zone and expand my circle of friends.  Several high school friends are moving away, and although several of my friends are still going to be in the area, I think it’s important to meet new people too.

When you go to a four year college, it is supposedly a lot easier to make friends.  You share a dorm room with someone, who could be a potential friend, or who could be a potential nightmare.  You live on campus so you are surrounded by thousands of other people around your age.  There are house parties, clubs and organizations, sports, campus events, and so forth.

Community college, however, is different.  A majority of the students come to school, take their classes, and then head home or off to work.  There aren’t living arrangements on campus.  There aren’t as many campus events, if any.  Making new friends is a little harder.

One of the main reasons why I wanted desperately to go to a four-year school before was to make new friends.  My brother Andrew made a family away from home while he was at UC San Diego.  He is still good friends with many of them today, even though they live in different parts of the country.  My brother Sean spent his first few years at community college, but didn’t really make any friends there.  It wasn’t until he went to Sonoma State that he met Brian, who welcomed him into his large circle of friends.

I realize it’ll be easier to make more friends once I transfer to a four-year school, but I want to make the most of my experience at community college.  I’ve learned so much from the friends I’ve made in the past and I really love getting to know people.  My hope now is that I can make some new friends.  The trouble is, how do I go about doing that?

My main idea is to make at least one friend in each of my classes this semester. I don’t know if I’ll be able to join school clubs where I realize it would be a lot easier to meet people, but I can make friends in my courses.  Since I have little time with six classes and a new job, I’ll have to get creative.  I can meet friends of my new friends.  I can meet friends of my current friends.  I can make my friend search well-known, so people know I am looking to meet new people and would love to be introduced.

College is a time for a fresh start and new beginnings, and I am more than ready to come in with a clean slate.  If I make an effort, I believe it will be possible to make friends at community college.  It’s all about making that first move and seeing where it goes from there.

Who knows who I could meet if I just try?

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