Most students will meet someone during their life who experiences some sort of social anxiety when it comes to talking to others...
People are familiar with that feeling in the pit of their stomach when they are pushed out of their comfort zone but, when you have social anxiety, these feelings are an everyday occurrence. Social anxiety could be due to a job interview, a date, a presentation or everyday tasks like talking to new people and that's fine!
When I was at school, I suffered with social anxiety and it's more than just being shy. It's an irrational fear of talking to people, a paranoia that everyone is talking about or laughing at you.
When I made the decision to apply for University I was still affected by my anxiety heavily at this age, but I felt I'd improved and yes, I was leaving my comfort zone but I thought I could cope. I know that there are many people out there with Social Anxiety Disorder, and that's why I'd love to help people make a change like I did.
Certain situations at university that will make you feel very nervous but hopefully these tips will help you out:
- Everyone is in the same boat: University is somewhere where people have all different character traits and they are probably going to be more sociable than you. Try to sit down with your flatmates as often as you can and just get to know each other – this is what me and my flatmates did!
- Have a drink, but don’t go overboard: Drinking and going out is a great way to get to know people and as an anxiety sufferer, it also helps calm the nerves and makes conversation easier, but moderation is key.
- Live in a shared flat or house: Living in shared accommodation is a fun experience where you meet lots of new people. If you choose to live in a studio flat or a house, the number of people you meet in your residency will be a bit lower.
- Don’t isolate yourself: When you walk into your lectures, sit with someone else there rather than alone. There will be group activities throughout university and if you isolate yourself people are unlikely to come over and ask you to join their group.
My university (University of Derby) is really helpful and does go out of its way to support students, so if you're struggling with your mental health, please get in touch with student support services at your university.
Oh, and good luck!