Author: Tom Bray.
Moving into a new environment away from home can seem incredibly daunting. I myself was terrified having barely left home before starting university. This is a far more common emotion than you think and everyone is in the same position as you on moving in weekend. Everyone is new. However, you are a lot more capable than what you initially believe! Mini targets and getting a placement helped me to develop the social confidence I never thought I was possible.
My Personal experience
University was the first time I had moved away from home which bought about numerous challenges. Along with the usual ones such as learning to iron and wash, this was the first time I would be having regular social interactions with people I’d never met before. Even the thought of this was incredibly daunting but I came to university hoping and trusting in a change by graduation. I’ve attempted to put it into words the change from day 1 to where I am now – it it has been astounding.
Whilst having very little social confidence, I was also quite inept when it came to foods I haven’t tried, movies/tv series I haven’t watched, restaurants I haven’t been to you name it. I grew up just with my parents with it being incredibly difficult to see my friends from primary/secondary school because I lived so far away. Therefore, I was naturally lacking in quite a few areas which became evident when I started fresher’s week.
Give yourself mini goals
To reduce my sheltered upbringing and social confidence, I started to set myself mini goals. For example, one week it could be to try and speak to someone new or to get to know someone a bit better to try and reassure myself that everything was okay. Or it could be to try and cook a different meal. My family (and still do!) cook the same meals whenever I go home. It could be to look at a new recipe on YouTube/cook book to try and expand your skill set. It is a saying we hear far too often but all of these mini victories really do add up to make a difference. I went from socialising with one person in first year to being part of a much bigger group by final year, something I could only have dreamt of.
So how do I get better at socialising?
When it comes to socialising, I prefer quality over quantity. I would prefer getting to know the same person on a more regular basis – you find more common ground and things start to develop from there if you are struggling like I would. Sports clubs, societies and part time jobs such as the student ambassador scheme are fantastic ways of meeting new people. It may seem incredibly daunting but the results if you put yourself out of your comfort zone are next to none from my own personal experience. Even if you don’t sign up for anything at freshers fayre, you have another opportunity to do as at refreshers fayre.
The importance of getting a placement
One of the more unusual ways in which I improved my social confidence was going on my placement year. I was eased into the office environment and I was often incredibly nervous performing tasks for my managers, I felt pressure to get things done quickly and well. I was also exposed to an organisation that had well over 200 plus employees in one place. The more time went on in this new environment, I became far more comfortable and started to see some real progress.
Instead of: “hi mate you good?”, conversations became a lot more personal and unique to the person upon getting to know them better. This really improved my self-esteem.
I went from being too scared to call people, to calling up to 50 people a day because I felt so incredibly comfortable talking to people.
If in anyway you are struggling socially before University, my advice is to set a mini goal every week you’d like to achieve. I found this to be the most beneficial. Above all else it would be to get a placement. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for these aims and objectives.
Keep remembering, you are a lot more capable than you think and don’t ever give up!