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Freshers x social anxiety… how can I get over my anxiety to make friends

Me and my anxiety don’t get on, especially when making new friends. What could I do to help me get over this so I can make new friends

You are already aware of how your anxiety can make it difficult to make friends, so I guess it's trying to think about situations where you will feel anxious and then trying to think about what you can do to best control those feelings of anxiety.

Perhaps that's arriving to events early or later, or sitting next to someone or not sitting next to someone, sitting at the front or sitting at the back. It could be wearing your favourite jeans and t-shirt if that makes you feel more positive and confident. It could also be thinking about what you eat or drink beforehand e.g. whether that's avoiding coffee and drinking a herbal tea.

Finally, being honest about how you are feeling with others will help other people to share their feelings. It's likely they too will feel nervous about making friends, the course, studying etc... so just sharing will help you and them feel better. It will also help you help each other e.g. someone to ask questions if you're stuck with work, someone to eat lunch with and someone to hang out with, so don't be afraid to share your feelings.

Hope that helps,

Oluwatosin 3rd year student University of Huddersfield
Smile. say hi and have a few questions to ask. Everyone will be nervous! Remember that not everyone will want to be your friend and that's ok, but there will be people who do want to be mates you just have to find them. Join clubs and societies as you're most likely to meet people there who like the things you like - so you already have something in common.
Original post by bellagough
Me and my anxiety don’t get on, especially when making new friends. What could I do to help me get over this so I can make new friends
Hey @bellagough, I always felt really anxious making friends too, I definitely focused more on my studies and rarely socialised much, but that's okay, everyone's experience is different. Have you joined a club or society? If not, I'd recommend joining one as they are a great way of meeting new people who share a similar interest to you, making conversation that bit easier as you've got a common ground.

I find small talk difficult, but I find it easier when it's about something I love such as TV shows and books because then I can talk forever about it haha. So maybe if you feel confident bringing up something you're passionate about with someone as a way of making a conversation? Or it could just be small things like 'I like your outfit', 'what essay topic are you working on?', 'have you been anywhere nice to eat on or around campus?'

Perhaps you could add some course mates on social media and again do small things like replying to their stories, and if that leads to a conversation, it may make face to face conversations a little less daunting as you've had chance to talk to them online first.

You could try asking someone on your course if they want to get a few people together and form a study group and work in the library - if this happens you can then start suggesting you all go for a coffee or a walk after.

Just take it day by day, don't put too much pressure on yourself. People make friends at different points throughout life, for me I didn't start feeling a bit more confident to talking to course mates until my final year. Not everyone makes their 'lifelong friends' whilst at uni, and that's okay. Just take small steps and don't overwhelm yourself, it can be so hard coming out of your comfort zone and not listening to the anxious thoughts. I'm sure you'll meet some wonderful people soon, you've got this!!!

Good luck with the rest of your university journey! Please reach out to your uni's mental health support services or your GP if you are struggling with your mental health and need someone to speak to.

Original post by bellagough
Me and my anxiety don’t get on, especially when making new friends. What could I do to help me get over this so I can make new friends

Hi @bellagough ,

I would try and remember that this is a new experience for everyone and no matter how confident some people may seem, everyone will be a bit nervous about meeting new people!

I would say that a good idea is to join Facebook group before you go to Uni! There are usually groups for your course, your halls and just your accommodation in general where you can meet people who you will be at university with. If you speak to them on here before you go to uni, it can be less daunting when you go to uni as you know that there are already some people that you know. It can be less scary talking to people online rather than in person so if you know you have some friends already this may help your anxiety!

I would also say that joining a society is a great way of making friends who you know have a common interest with you. There are usually lots of societies for most things, they aren't all sports so there may be something you like. You can usually look up what societies universities offer before you come so that you have an idea of what you might like to do and then if you go to the societies fair in freshers week you can get more information on this. If you join something that you are interested in, you already have a staring talking point with others that join as you know you all share the same interest!

Also, trying to talk to people in your lessons is a great way of making friends. Especially during freshers week where nobody really knows each other, everyone wants to make friends and will be glad of someones to talk to! You can ask them anything, where they are from, if they are staying in halls and which one as these are great conversation starters in freshers and it may lead to more conversations. Even just smiling at people if you don't want to group and start a conversation will let people know you are friendly and some people may come over to you and start a conversation.

If you do make friends on your course, ask them if they want to go for lunch, or a coffee after uni and this is another way to build friendships with your course mates. Get their social medias too and chat to them on there, even if at first it's just asking if they are coming into uni that day!

If you are feeling very anxious when you start, I would recommend getting in contact with your university wellbeing team and they can help you with this and offer support if you need it. If you have a personal tutor, talk to them too as they will be there to listen to you if you need advice, support or help.

Overall, I would say that everyone wants to make friends in freshers week so nobody will think it's odd if you go up to them and start a conversation! And if you don't make friends straight away, try not to worry as it can take a while to make good, long lasting friendships so don't let this put you off trying to make friends!

I hope this helps,
Lucy -SHU student ambassador.
Original post by bellagough
Me and my anxiety don’t get on, especially when making new friends. What could I do to help me get over this so I can make new friends
I’m the exact same as you, i’m shy usually and it terrifies me. I’m scared for September too. All i can say is remember many people are in the same boat, and everyone is new together, not knowing a soul. In your house just walk in, introduce yourself. Whenever you’re invited to things, don’t turn them down as it’s a social opportunity. Go into lectures and sit with people, try have some small talk about their accom and where they are from to get the ball rolling. If house mates say ‘let’s go out tonight’ and you turn them down, they’ll start to not invite you. Keep going to things just for the first couple months.

Also, i’m not sure what universities you’ve firmed but smaller ones are often more sociable, as classes are smaller and you’re more likely to bump into peers while walking across campus. I’m hopefully going to Bath Spa.

My brother gave me all this advice so I hope it helps you too!!
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by bellagough
Me and my anxiety don’t get on, especially when making new friends. What could I do to help me get over this so I can make new friends
Hi @bellagough ,

This is from my experience and a long-term solution:
I often find myself in the same place. I think, in conversations, when we focus too much on ourselves we forget to attend to what other people are saying. It helps to build confidence in who you are. This gets easier with experience. To be at ease with just being is a skill. If you do not get too self-conscious when you are quiet and around others you can not speak most of the time. Then when you are in conversation you can focus on building connections.

This is what I think might you:
I have seen people post in freshers' chat that they are anxious and want friends. It is very effective. Social anxiety is more common than most people think. Chances are there are many people in the same boat and by reaching out you might help them out too)

Is there anything that helped you make friends before you joined the university?
Hristiana (Kingston rep)
1st year Mental Health Nursing

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