My anxiety disorder has affected almost all areas of my life. I have difficulty speaking in front of others, making eye contact, doing anything that is new or different or outside of my room, falling asleep, and even walking into a room by myself. In spite of that, one thing that my mental illness has not affected is my ability to make friends. Woohoo!
After much trial and error, there are five things that have helped me make new friends time and time again (even in the most awkward situations). Here they are:
It is the first day of a new semester and you are nervous. Very nervous. You walk into a crowded classroom that is much smaller than you anticipated. After quickly scanning the room, you realize that you recognize no one. You begin to ask yourself, “Am I even at the right college? Did I make a wrong turn somewhere?” No worries. You see an empty seat and you run for it. After sitting down, you notice that the girl next to you has the coolest phone case you have ever seen. Compliment it. But, don’t just say, “Umm…I like your phone case.” Say it like you mean it! Say it like this girl has the last and only phone case on this Earth, but maybe take it down a few notches. After all, we don’t want her to think you are crazy (just yet). Basically, just remember that compliments open the door to many a conversation. Next, ask their name and introduce yourself. Now, you know at least one person in the room. Cool.
2. Sweet and simple introductions
If complimenting someone is not your forte, that is A-Okay! Cut the bullshit and hit the nail straight on the head. While sitting down, the person next to you will probably look up to see who it is that is gracing the seat beside them (since they are probably looking for a familiar face as well). Right in that moment where they glance your way, pounce! Well, not literally. Just be yourself and state, “Hi! My name is [insert name here]. What’s yours?” It’s simple, sweet, and straight to the point. If anything, your new seat buddy will probably appreciate your ballsy approach to making friends. You go, girl or guy!
Let’s be honest. Everyone likes to complain. We like to complain about the weather, about homework, about work in general, about being tired, about teachers, and about pretty much anything that we can get our hands on. With this broad commonality, use it to your advantage! If you hate meeting new people or starting something new, turn to the nearest person and say it! In addition, “I seriously cannot stand the heat/rain/humidity/cold/wind,” is a surefire way to start some sort of a conversation. So, go for it! Use complaining to play the field! The field of friendship that is!
We all have questions and some people have answers to those questions. Am I right? With that being said, ask a question and you should expect some type of response. Ask about the course, ask about the room your in, ask about the time, ask about the date, ask about that rash that you have had for the past week. Just kidding, do not ask about the rash. I repeat. Do not ask about the rash, unless you are truly that self-confident about your bodily issues. In that case, more power to you! In summary, ask questions. After you receive an answer, introduce yourself. Bing. Bam. Boom. Friendship.
5. Offer them something
You have a pack of mints/gum/candy/other delicious things in your bag. Offer them to the person next to you. Not in a creepy way, but in a casual way. Offer them as if you do it so much that you are tired of being such a generous person. Also, make sure to offer it in a way that makes it clear that you are a sane person and that you have not poisoned whatever you are offering. Please, make that very clear. Sharing is caring, after all. Believe me, I have met one of my closest friends by offering her a mint. If fresh breath doesn’t say friendship to me, then, honestly, I don’t know what does.
Meeting people can be scary, but, if you have a plan, it makes things a lot less scary. Just be yourself, remember to introduce yourself, and, most importantly, smile. If your peers don’t like it, who wants to be friends with them anyway? Plus, more mints for you!