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Fresher pressure: how to cope with shyness at uni

What advice do you have for someone starting uni with a really shy personality? I’ve always been quiet but now I don’t want that to hold me back when I’m trying to make new friends and become a new person. I just get so worried that people will think the things I say are stupid or weird. How do I get past that? Thanks!


Hi Dixie! 

Starting Uni is a brilliant time to be reflecting on your own confidence, because 99% of people are in the exact same boat. When I started my first year, everyone was absolutely bricking it, because we all harboured the same anxieties. Will I fit in? Are my clothes cool enough? Will people want to be my friend? As much as your fellow first-years may cover it up or play it cool, I can guarantee you that almost all of them are just as nervous as you are.

On that note, my next piece of advice is one that sometimes gets misunderstood. It may sound harsh at first, but most of the people you interact with on a daily basis aren’t as interested in you as you think they are. Because you spend every hour of every day with yourself, you’re hyper aware of yourself. All of your ‘embarrassing’ moments, all of the traits you think are annoying, all of the neuroses and insecurities you might have – they’re all extremely familiar to you. It’s human nature to expect everyone else to be as aware of these things as you are. 

I spent all of first year trying so hard to fit in, and whenever I slipped up, I felt like the whole world was laughing at me behind my back. Everything – every outfit, every conversation, every party – was so high stakes, because in my mind, all of these people were looking at me and studying me and judging me. In reality, everyone else was so preoccupied with their own anxieties that they hardly even noticed when I did something stupid. And if they did notice, they found it funny, and it became a way for us to become closer friends.

It’s part of our wiring to assume that the world revolves around us, but at the end of the day, it is just a self-centred anxiety. All of the energy you put into worrying about other people’s perceptions could be put into one of your hobbies, or working on your confidence, or speaking to someone new. You don’t need to worry so much about what everyone thinks of you, because the truth is, they don’t think of you nearly as much as you do – and most of them are far too busy worrying about what you think of them.

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Maja Anushka

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November 2021
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