Q: I’m finding it difficult to make friends in college because I’m not confident enough to initiate conversation. Do you have any advice for overcoming anxiety ? Or at least overcoming it enough to be able to feel comfortable interacting with strangers in a social setting?
A: Thank you for your question, Mimi! I do have some experience with anxiety and would be happy to share some of my tips with you! I think it’s important, especially in a post-secondary situation, to remember that everyone is in the same position as you! This is their first year away from home, away from their friends and family, and even if they don’t seem like they are, the chances are they’re just as anxious and nervous as you are! If you don’t feel comfortable sitting down with a group of classmates or people you recognize from residence at lunch, try initiating conversation with your neighbour in class. If it’s possible to continue sitting next to them beyond the first day, that’ll give you the opportunity to make a new friend, and if it isn’t, continue the habit of talking to a new neighbour each day! It’ll give you great experience with interacting with strangers and also get much easier over time. Another good piece of advice I can give you may sound a bit cliche, but I promise you, it works! Fake it ’til you make it! If you act confident, you’ll soon start to feel confident – and everyone else will see it too! Walk with your eyes up, shoulders back, and head held high. Look people in the eye when you talk to them, listen, and ask questions! Be interested in people and they’ll be interested in you! Good luck! 🙂