I am socially awkward. I have always been this way. I can recall my first day of kindergarten, sitting on the mat in a circle as we each took a turn introducing ourselves. I can also recall my anxiety rising as my turn approached. When it was finally my turn I froze. My teacher had to introduce me.
I remember hearing people say, “oh Lori, she’s so shy”. The thing is, I am not shy. I have just always struggled with the introduction. The introduction is a complex social mechanism. There are precise elements to it (ie. the timing, location, register). The introduction should not be so complicated.
At the beginning of September, as I embarked on this marathon of studies, I asked myself how I would remedy my social malfunction. I decided that I would have to work on my introductions. I started by making a commitment to say “hi” to the people in my classes. However, I found that once I started introducing myself I couldn’t stop.
The results of my new little social experiment are promising. I met more people in the first month of school than I had in the past year. Near the middle of the fall term, I approached a person I saw on campus frequently and introduced myself. Not surprisingly, they had also seen me around campus too. You know that person? The one you see every Tuesday, in between classes, walking up St. George or across the back field. You may or may not make eye contact. You may or may not be wondering if they also find it odd that you always see them on campus.
Is it a coincidence? Do you subscribe to the notion that coincidences are opportunities disguised as chance? If so, you might also try saying Hi to them. What I have discovered is that most people are feeling exactly what I was feeling. In fact, this anonymous person I used to see everywhere, is now a good friend of mine!
In the fall, I attended a leadership seminar offered by MatsA (Mature Students Association) that focused on how to get involved on campus. Great ways to get involved and meet people include joining clubs, committees or volunteering.
But, there is also a really easy way to get involved. You can just say Hi. By reaching out and making connections on campus you are strengthening your involvement in student life. Leaders affect change in their community and our community is the university. By doing something as simple as saying “Hi, my name is _____” you are effecting change. You and I are making this community smaller and homier and more liveable.
So, if you want to get involved in campus life, start with one person. Boldly walk up to that person you see all the time and introduce yourself. It might just be me, but I suspect we are all far more alike than we would all like to admit.