How to make friends as an introvert

When talking to people is tiring, but the fear of missing out can ache more, here’s how to socialize without expending too much energy.

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Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Trying to balance FOMO and social anxiety? Here are some ways to help make meeting new friends be less daunting. (Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Mayee Yeh, Deputy Managing Editor

Trying to put the effort into interpersonal relationships can be draining for many people. If your idea of a fun weekend is wrapping yourself in blankets, putting on some noise canceling headphones, watching your favorite show, playing your favorite game or honestly any activity without anyone, this is the guide for you. 

If you’ve ever met me, you’re probably wondering how I am, in any universe, qualified to write this guide. To be frank, I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert — just an extrovert with sometimes all-too-intense social anxiety. However, my boyfriend is probably one of the most introverted people I know, and he assured me that everything I’m recommending worked for him. 

Bond with your roommate

Whether it was through the NYU Housing survey or a Facebook group, you’re likely sharing a space with a roommate. The last thing you want is to sour the atmosphere of that space. I can tell you from experience that acting as an independent force and borderline pretending your roommate does not exist is one of the worst things to do unless agreed to beforehand. Is small talk the bane of everyone’s existence? Yes, but try to repress that flight instinct — ask them what they were doing while they were out or if they enjoyed that class they’re taking. There’s a difference between pointless and productive small talk: the latter can lead to genuine, interesting conversations and connections. 

Wait for extroverts to approach you

People are scary, especially if you don’t know them. But hear me out; as an extrovert, much of my energy comes from talking to people, especially those who do not seem to have much to say. I somehow found myself in an opposites-attract, strangers-to-friends-to-lovers arc and making friends on the NYU Shuttle. However, you don’t need to be as socially spontaneous as me — wait for that energy to come to you. Say you have those one or two friends that you trust to take you to a party, although you kind of don’t want to go. I guarantee that there will be one person who will try to start a conversation with you.

Sit by people with similar vibes in class

So far, only a few days into this semester, there are still classes that haven’t started yet and time to avoid that unspoken seating chart. Admittedly people won’t follow it to a tee and tell you to move seats over, but there comes a point where you will stick to a region. If the back of the room calls to you, I say sit there — others who sit back there likely think similarly to you. There’s an unspoken solidarity in sitting where the professor will least notice you or putting in the minimum effort required to max out your participation grade. So, if you can, try to introduce yourself to one peer near you. Even if nothing comes out of it, having someone to send you class notes on a sick day is always nice. And, like I said, if an extrovert somehow finds their way back there with you, just play the cards fate has dealt to you that day.

Do what truly interests you

Like attracts like. Similarly to the back of the room example, the clubs you choose to engage with or the dorm events you attend will likely have similar people. If you’re into role playing games, members of the Dungeons and Dragons club will probably listen to the same podcasts or watch the same campaigns as you. If you want to complain about the new BLACKPINK comeback but don’t know where to go, the Korean Student Association will welcome you with open arms. If you covet your room as a safe space, but you step out for your RA’s hall snacks and you tend to see the same person sticking to the walls like you, I encourage you to possibly talk to that person. Again, small talk is a social horror, but you never know unless you try. 

The online approach

To be fair, talking to people is hard. I have some anxiety that prohibits me from socializing, especially with phone calls, emails and in professional spaces. However, if you find yourself comfortable behind a screen, utilize connections like class GroupMes, Discord channels or chats for group projects. When going out to community events is hard, interacting in the Zoom chat is always an option. I became friends with someone through Perusall because we thought each other’s comments about machine language learning were hilarious. Sometimes it may not feel like the biggest step, but you’re definitely dipping your toes into a community, and even putting in the effort is good enough. 

To be clear, if you’re perfectly secure in your independence, I wholly respect that. I am not trying to force upon the idea that you need friends. However, if you are feeling a bit lonely but find the prospect of engaging with people too tiring or too daunting, I hope these tips can help.

Contact Mayee Yeh at [email protected]