So, last week, I talked about Orientation and touched on how it’s a different experience for everyone- and today, I’m going to go into a little more detail about how it’s a bit different for a specific group: the introverts.
Contrary to popular belief, we’re not reclusive hermits who just want to live in a cave and not ever speak to anyone- we want to have a good time like everybody else but just the thought of all that awkward social interaction can make those seven days seem like a nightmare.
For me, getting past meaningless small talk is the one big obstacle that stands in the way of really getting to know people and the first day of school is always intimidating enough without having the added pressure to socialize and make friends.
So for all the Type-B’s out there, here’s what I learned about how to tackle the Brave New World of Orientation Week and conversation-making:
- We’re all in this together.
At the time, it may seem like you’re the only one who doesn’t know how to seamlessly string words together and haven’t instantly found your university BFFs but trust me, everybody is just as nervous and apprehensive as you are about making that first move and initiating conversation.
2. Be interactive
So once the meaningless weather banter is over and you’ve decided you’d like to keep talking to someone, it’s a good idea to insert in some what and how questions into the conversation to keep it flowing rather than just plain agreeing or nodding along.
Bonus: if all else fails, everybody loves a good compliment!
3. Follow up
If the exchange meets a premature end, I think it’s always good to swap contact information and send a little message letting the person know it was nice talking to them- it adds a nice touch and can lead to the start of something new.
4. Objects can help
Seemingly ordinary things like holding an interesting brochure from Clubs Day, having some unique stickers or badges on your bag, or even an interesting phone cover or wallpaper can all be potential conversation sparkers.
Two of my really good friends met when one struck up conversation with the other over a pair of peace-sign earrings she was wearing and it turned out they both had a mutual interest in history and nonviolence and were in a lot of the same classes.
5. Don’t overthink what you said
If the conversation didn’t go as smoothly as planned:
What I did last year: mentally cringe
*oh god why did I just say that, where’s the closest place to buy a Time-Turner so I can just go back to the start and shove a fist in my mouth, note: avoid this person around campus for the rest of the year*
What I should have done: realized that I didn’t need to be perfect to fit in, it’s okay- it’s orientation week, everybody’s in the same big blue awkward boat, just forget about it and move on.
6. Don’t box away your feelings if you’re down
Talking to and Skyping with my friends and family, honestly telling them about how I was doing and hearing their advice and opinions played a big part in my adjustment process. Another thing that helped me a lot was writing down how I felt at the end of the day- its an unbelievably satisfying way to clear your head emotionally and also have something to read back later and perhaps have a laugh or two.
U of T also has an abundance of mental health resources to help you out in case you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed- ranging from workshops on how to cope with situations to peer support and counselling services.
So, in the end, there’s no special trick or magic formula to turn yourself into a conversation connoisseur but I hope this helps a little! Just be you and good luck 🙂