The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “making friends”

Making Friends In Class Again

Last semester, I didn’t make a whole lot of new friends.  I did, however, become closer friends to the people I had met before in this area, thanks to the fact that I now live a matter of minutes away from them versus an hour and a half.  I got to know one dance friend whom I’d always thought was really nice much better, and we spend a lot more time hanging out now.  I also started carpooling with another dance friend, and we shared a lot about ourselves during our car rides and became much closer than I expected.  I hope we remain good friends even though we can’t carpool this semester.  I also became very close to the person I dated, and we’ve remained close since.  I did manage to make one friend in my Accounting class as well, which was really nice because he was very helpful throughout the school year and made the class much more enjoyable.

This semester I would like to do a better job of making friends through my classes though.  My mom suggested I try and have at least a 3 minute conversation with one new person per day, but I think that would be too much for me.  I do have the mindset that I will try to talk to and get to know at least two people every time I’m at an event or social setting though.  And I do want to try and make at least one, preferably two, friends in each of my classes.  I’ve noticed that I enjoy a class much more when I have a friendly face to talk to each class period.  It’s hard to make the initial “move” to talk to someone new, but almost every time I’ve done it, I’ve been glad I did and the other person is appreciative and receptive.  I just need to remind myself of this when the nerves overwhelm me and keep me from getting someone’s attention to introduce myself.  I’ve been through this many times before though, so I know I am capable and know it just requires saying something, no matter if it’s a question about the homework, the textbook, or the class in general.  As the picture says, I will put myself out there this school semester!

Meeting New People On the First Day of Class

About two weeks ago I had my first day of school at the other college I take classes from.  The day started out stressful because I couldn’t find a parking space despite getting there 50 minutes early. Eventually, I just ended up driving across the street and parking in the overflow lot.

I hurried to my class, and found the building right away, though I did have to ask someone where the room was.  When I got there, there were some people waiting outside.  I stood there with them for a bit too.  Finally I decided to walk towards a girl and start talking to her.  I asked if she was waiting for the Abnormal Psychology class to start.  She said she was, and I asked whether she was taking it for a GE or for fun and talked about the crazy parking.  It was difficult talking to her though.  I was asking questions, but she wasn’t asking anything back, and she didn’t seem like she really wanted to talk or be friendly.  It was a little frustrating.  Then the door opened and people started filing in to the room.

I had noticed a girl who was standing by herself quietly, and had a hat on her head and seemed like an artistic person for some reason.  I thought I could either keep trying to talk to this girl who wasn’t all that friendly and didn’t seem to want to be friends, or I could try talking to someone else.  I decided to start over and talk to someone else.  The seats were paired up so I took the seat near the back next to the artistic looking girl which was also nearby the other girl.

I got my textbook out (as it’s a good conversation starter) and put it on my desk.  I thought of what I could say to the girl next to me to start a conversation.  I felt a little self-conscious about trying to talk with the new girl while having the other girl right there who kind of brushed me off.  But luckily, as I was thinking over my options, the artistic girl pointed to my book and asked, “How much did the book cost?”

Yes!  She wants to start a conversation with me!

I smiled and said I got it off Amazon and went into that. I introduced myself too and offered my hand, and she said her name is Kim.  (I quickly wrote her name down right away because I hate forgetting people’s names, and wrote my name in the top right corner of my notebook too so she could see it.)  I asked her if she was taking the class for a GE and found out that she wants to major in psychology actually and loves it.  I told her I love it too and am considering that and Sociology for a major.  I also went into how I’m thinking about Occupational Therapy.  We then talked about the parking and our schedules and what other classes we had, and she was really friendly and sweet.  She asked me a lot of questions and I asked her questions back too.  Often I feel like an interrogator the first time I meet someone because I ask more questions about them than I get asked in return, but this time I could tell she totally wanted to befriend me.  We both enjoyed the class and liked the professor.  We exchanged numbers and at the end she waited for me to gather my stuff and asked where my next class was.  I said it was in the Liberal Arts building, and she said hers was too, so I said we should walk together.  We did and talked and it was nice.  She asked me if I like the cold and I said not really, and neither does she.  We talked about the high schools we went to, and I said how I had played tennis matches against the tennis players at her school and they were a really good team, and she said she plays badminton.  Then when we got to our class we parted ways and said we’d see each other Thursday.  It was a great start to my day and it was so nice to meet someone so friendly and eager to know more about me.

Then I had Women’s US History 1877 – present.  A lot of desks were already taken and I had to make a quick decision of where to sit, so I chose a seat next to a girl with her phone out.  I try and pick random people to talk to and usually just pick a seat that’s going to put me around several people and go for it.  She had a straight face and I couldn’t read if she’d want to talk to me or not, but I decided to ask “This is the women’s history class right?” and she smiled right away and said yeah it was and she wasn’t sure about that at first either.  From there we talked a lot about the crazy parking, expensive bridge toll I have to pay each day, the parking fee, about other classes and teachers we had that we really liked.  She was very outgoing and was very eager to talk to me.  I’m glad I broke the ice and found that out.  Her name is Priscilla.  The teacher for the class seems awesome- she wore a black and white checkered skirt with tights, and a bright red and white blouse.  The front bangs of her short hair are dyed blue too even though she’s probably a 40ish or so aged woman.  I could tell I was going to like her already.  She was nice too and was really into having us use creativity with our assignments.

Then I had US History before 1877.  I went into the class and there weren’t many people there so I just took a random seat in the second row near the middle.  Sometimes I like to leave it up to chance who will sit next to me instead of picking out someone to sit next to.  Usually that works out ok.  This time, it didn’t.  Two girls who were already friends came in and started planning where they could sit so they could have their two guy friends sit nearby.  They took the two seats in front of me, then had their guy friends sit behind them in the seats next to me.  They were really loud and disrespectful, and reminded me of how some of the “popular” people in high school would act.  They were putting their heads down and didn’t do the writing assignment, and when some people would speak up they would mock them quietly to each other.  It was really irritating sitting next to them.  I tried talking to the girl next to me a little, but she was kind of hard to talk to because I don’t think she knows much English.  She seemed to kind of want to keep to herself too and didn’t seem interested in talking.  The teacher was kind of monotone also, but he seems like a gentle spirit at least.

It was a great day overall though!  It was nice meeting different people and breaking the ice with them.

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 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.

1st Night of Psychology

Well what do you know, the first class went great! 🙂  I was so worried about it and imagined myself having trouble talking to people in my class, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought!

I got dropped off at the college 20 minutes before my class began, and immediately went to the list posted in the center of the room where students were crowded around.  I figured this was the list that showed all the class numbers for each of the classes.  When the crowd whittled down a little so I could get close enough to the list, I scanned for my Intro to Psych class and soon found it.  I asked one of the ladies that was crowded around the list if that room number was upstairs, but I got no response, and she left.  I felt a little embarrassed, but I don’t think she was ignoring me on purpose, she must have not realized that I was talking to her.(even though I turned around and faced her)  Anywho, I went upstairs to where I thought the class would be, and eventually found it even though the room numbers were scrambled and were not in order.

When I entered the class, it was dead silent.  About 10 people were already seated, and no one was talking or making any kind of noise, not even ruffling papers!  I scanned the room trying to figure out where to sit so I could be in a good position to talk to some people.  I decided on the 3rd row, and sat next to an older lady.  My first thoughts were “Dang, it’s so freakin quiet in here that I’m never going to get a conversation started!”  I was conscious of my breathing even, that’s how quiet it was.  I felt awkward.  I then decided to ask the lady next to me if this was the Intro to Psych class, and she smiled and said yes.  I then started talking to her about the textbook that we both had out and asked if she had read any of it yet, and she said she hadn’t and asked if I had, and I said I’d read the first chapter.  She then asked how much I had to pay for the book and I said only a few bucks because I got it online.  She said she got hers for around $10 at a thrift store or something like that.  I then told her about the other classes I was taking and she told me about some of the classes she’d taken.  She said she’s 50 years old and has been trying to get all the requirements to get an AA degree.  She smiled a lot and was really nice and friendly, I’m glad I sat next to her and started talking to her.

Then another girl came in and sat next to me, and asked me if this was the intro to psych class.  I smiled and said yes, and that I had actually asked the same question earlier.  I then asked her if this was her first psych class and she said yeah, and that she needed it as a nursing requirement.  She wants to transfer to a nursing program.  I then showed her my schedule and talked about classes that she liked or ones that were easy and she gave me the teachers’ names.  She and the older lady also use, so we talked about the reviews for this teacher and the other teachers that I was going to have.  She was really nice and friendly too.  The girl’s name was Rose, and she actually knew the other lady next to me, Patricia, from a Spanish class, so we were all talking in our row so no one was left out, which was great.  Everyone else in the room was still pretty much silent, but after we started talking it wasn’t weird being the only ones talking, and as I mentioned that I got the book for cheap online a guy in the front spun around and asked me how much I had paid for it, and I told him only a few bucks off of the internet.

Soon the class started, and the instructor, Mrs. Jaimez, introduced herself and said she had a PhD in psychology and first worked as a psychologist, and later decided to become a teacher so she could spend more time with her kids.  She said she enjoys teaching more anyhow.  She then said that she wanted each of us to introduce ourselves, say something interesting about ourselves, and then say why we were taking the class.  I felt a pang of nervousness in my stomach, but was glad that I had at least talked to the people next to me already and had already been talking and introducing myself before she made us do it to the class.  Rose looked at me and raised her eyebrows and widened her eyes, as if to say “oh great” and I smiled.

She started in the front row and eventually it got to the third row and Patricia introduced herself and accidentally repeated why she was taking the class twice out of nervousness I think, but she pointed that out aloud and got some laughs.  The interesting thing she said about herself was that she works on the clavicle of the back or something like that.  I’m not sure exactly how she put it, but she pointed to her lower spine.  Then it was my turn(oh boy), and I said “Hi my name’s Brittany, I like to play tennis and go swing dancing.  I’m taking this class because I think it sounds interesting and I want to learn more about psychology.”  I did my best to speak loudly and clearly, and I think I was understood.  Then Rose went, and said she’s pregnant and due in August.  She said she’s taking this class because it’s a requirement to get into a nursing program.  Then all the 50 something people went, and when one lady said her name, Ann Healy, in a beautiful British accent, I knew that must have been my friend Emily’s mom.  I thought Emily was thinking of taking the class, but I didn’t see her there, and I didn’t expect her mom to be taking it.  I wondered if the mom would know me if I went and talked to her, since I’d never met her before and hadn’t hung out with Emily too much.  But during the break, I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see her standing over me and she said she knew I was Emily’s friend and I told her I thought she was her mom.  I also said that I thought Emily was going to take the class too, but it turns out that she really wanted to volunteer at the library and ended up with a shift on Wednesdays, so she couldn’t take the class.  We talked about the class and she said a cousin had taken the class and really liked it.  She then said she was heading outside for the break and left the classroom.  I got some papers together on my desk, then decided to head down to the bathroom.  When I was at the sink washing my hands, Emily’s mom came out of one of the stalls and washed her hands too, and she started asking me about my tennis season.  I told her it had ended a few months ago, and she asked if I missed it, and I said not really because the weather’s been so bad and I have so much more free time now so that I can take these college classes.  We then talked the rest of the way back to class, and returned to our seats on the opposite side of the room.  I started talking with Patricia and Rose some more until the class started up again.

So for the actual class, it was alright.  She pretty much lectures from powerpoints and you have to really listen to what she’s saying to have good notes, because her slides are very brief and won’t tell you much of anything.  She seems nice though, I think some of her tests will be tough and I think I’ll have to spend a lot of time studying and reading the chapters assigned each week, but it should be ok.  She encourages participation and offers a lot of opportunities to participate, and I thought it would be great to raise my hand for something since I was already on a roll that night, but my shyness got the best of me and I kept my hand down, despite repeated efforts in my mind to “answer the next question”.  The next question came and went, and I found some excuse in my mind not to answer it.  For example, some of my thoughts were: I don’t want to answer that one because it’s too hard to explain, I’m not sure how to word my answer so it sounds like something I’d say and not what I just noticed in my textbook, The answer I have might not be what she’s looking for, Someone else already said the one I was going to say and anything else I say already sounds too similar, yadda yadda yadda.  My mind really needs to shut up sometimes.  But I’m so proud of myself for making 2 friends in my classes, and becoming friends with Emily’s mom.  I had a lot of good conversations, and was able to be friendly even when everyone else in the room was silent and sticking to themselves.  Normally, I’d be one of those people.  I’d be doodling, flipping through the textbook, anything to avoid making eye contact with people and attempting conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d WANT to talk to people, I’d want to make a friend, but I’d feel so awkward that I would just keep my eyes glued down rather than attempt something that could cause embarrassment or awkward lulls in conversation if I couldn’t think of what else to say.

So all that worrying was for nothing.  I did great, and I’m really happy with myself.  When 2 of my other classes start next week, hopefully they’ll go just as well, and I won’t be stressing out as much as I was this time.  But realistically, I know I’ll worry.  I just have to remind myself how well this experience went and how past experiences have gone well too.  My perception of the situation controls how I feel about it, so if I can think to myself that the class will go fine and that there’s no harm in talking to people and if I don’t it’s not the end of the world it should help.  Having expectations to talk to people makes me more nervous because I don’t want to let myself down, but they’re also helpful for me because I like to fulfill goals.  I feel a sense of pride when I set out to do what I want to do.  Unfortunately when I don’t fulfill my goals, I often feel sad and ashamed that I couldn’t open my mouth and say something to the person next to me.  So I have to be careful not to be too hard on myself and put extra pressure on myself, because that could very well backfire.

Tennis with Sarah and David

It’s been a few days since I’ve written, mainly because my days have been sort of uneventful.  But today was fun, I went to meet my friend Sarah and her boyfriend David, who I’d never met before.  I thought it might be a little awkward with someone I don’t know, especially since they’re a couple, but it actually wasn’t awkward at all.  David was really nice and easy to get along with.  We were planning to play tennis in my town, but all the courts were full, so I went with them in their car to the courts by them.  He’s a really good tennis player, and Sarah’s gotten pretty good too.  We played for an hour or so and then headed back because I had to pick up my brother from the library.  Then I introduced my brother to them and we all went out for pizza and got a better chance to talk.  We talked about Star Wars a lot, mainly because I knew that was something Sean could talk about and I knew David liked Star Wars a lot too.  I also asked David about his traveling experiences, and he had some pretty interesting stories.  I shared some of the stories my brother Andrew had told me when he had gone to other countries too.  It was a fun day, and I hope we can all hang out again sometime.

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