Q: Any tips on being the new kid in high school as an introvert with social anxiety?
A: Being the new kid is hard! I recently ate lunch on a college campus, and as I looked over the crowded dining area, I had a flashback to high school. Where should I sit? Should I try to make friends with someone? Why didn’t I just get a sandwich to go?
I definitely understand your feelings of anxiety! Luckily, I’ve learned a few tricks that might help.
1) Give yourself a pep talk. Go on, say it out loud: “I am confident, I am capable, and I can do this.” It sounds a little silly, but it’s something I do whenever I walk into an uncomfortable situation. It gives me the reassurance I need to walk in with a smile on my face.
2) Bring along a hobby. Whether it’s your 3DS, drawing supplies, or a soccer ball, having something to do will make you feel more comfortable. Plus, it will draw in others who share similar interests. Just be careful not to become so involved with your activity that you shut out everything—and everyone—else.
3) Be observant. While I don’t advocate judging another person on their appearance, I do think you might find potential clues by noticing details. For example, that Undertale pin on their backpack says they’re interested in gaming. Or an Adventure Time tee might tell you they have a similar sense of humor. If they’re carrying an instrument, they probably love music. All of these clues are great conversation starters.
4) Seek out quiet people. While the loudest or most “popular” crowds in school might draw your attention, you may feel more at ease in a milder group. Perhaps you’ll find your new best friends reading in the library or playing a game in the computer lab. Remember that you don’t need a large group of friends to be happy—one or two close buddies will do just fine.
5) Join a club. I know, I know! Clubs sound awful when you have social anxiety. But trust me on this one. Joining a club provides an opportunity to interact with people who share similar interests. You’ll likely have specific tasks to work on, which means you can avoid small talk. Plus, it’s going to look good on your college applications! I realize that new environments are sometimes challenging for introverts, especially when anxiety comes into play. It may take some time to form meaningful friendships, but your patience will pay off.
Best of luck on your buddy search!