The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “make new friends”

When Times are Tough

I know it’s been a while since I have posted.  I will admit it’s been a lot harder for me to keep up this blog this year than it was last year.  I still want to try and keep it up, though my focus has been elsewhere from shyness and it is more difficult to find things I want to write about.

There are times when things aren’t going well in life and can be really frustrating.  This is one of those times, and though I try to stay optimistic and hopeful that things will get better soon, it’s hard.

I’ve been taking care of myself though, running or walking daily, talking to friends and family, and writing a lot in my journal.  I will be ok and don’t want anyone to worry though. It’s just a tough time.

I have made two community college friends this year, though have only hung out with one of them outside of class, Kim.  I like how she isn’t afraid to ask me random questions when we’re together and we can just ask each other about ourselves.  We played tennis recently and she told me she’s in her second year of community college but I’m the first friend she’s made there.  She thinks it’s hard to meet people and that most people in community college aren’t as friendly as me.  I was really honored and was glad to be her first community college friend.

The other friend I made was a girl named Kelly from my very monotonous History class.  I originally sat next to a group of obnoxious girls and boys, but the next class I decided to choose a new place to sit and tried sitting next to this girl.  She was furiously solving a Rubik’s cube as I sat down, and I wondered if  she would be too absorbed in her cube to talk to me.   After she finished solving the cube and set it down, I asked her about when the history essay was due though.  She smiled and said not for a while.  I then asked her about the Rubik’s cube and if she had it memorized how to solve it and she said she had.  She was really smiley and nice and went into that and how she had gotten into Rubik’s cubes a lot lately.  We talked more on that.  She brought out her laptop then which apparently has a kindle on there and games. The laptop was a graduation present, and it turns out we graduated high school the same year.  I was thinking of when I would introduce myself and say my name and if I should wait when she smiled and said, “My name’s Kelly.” And I told her my name from there.  She asked if I had read the Hunger Games and I said I hadn’t, and she really recommended them, and then we got on the subject of Harry Potter.  She was really friendly and it made the class so much more enjoyable. The actual lecture was still very boring though, but it was nice to have made a friend to get through it with.

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.

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!

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!*

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