Sometimes, leaving your comfort zone is the best way to find happiness. (Image via Miriam Times)
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College pushes you out of your comfort zone, but you can control where that leads you.

Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or an ambivert, college pushes everyone out of their comfort zones, which is nerve-wracking regardless of who you are. And while everyone will encourage you to lean into this discomfort, nobody tells you exactly how you’re supposed to explore the intimidating new social scene that is college life.

However, there are a number of ways to branch out and meet new people in a less stressful manner. So, if you’ve found yourself wanting to expand your social circle but maybe aren’t naturally outgoing, here are some suggestions to help you come out of your shell while attending college.

Social Media

One of the easiest ways to create a dialogue with people who attend the same college is through social media. Twitter and Facebook, especially, offer students a number of creative ways to get to know people they may not often run into around campus.

For instance, on Twitter, you can interact with dozens of students in your class simply by using school and year-based hashtags, such as #UT23, which you can find by simply clicking on or searching for them. By using hashtags like this, you can find and talk to your peers in a much more comfortable setting. Indeed, tweeting a simple question like “Who wants to go to the game?” with an appropriate hashtag can lead to multiple responses, and maybe even a DM or two.

Facebook enables a similar form of communication, enabling anyone to create a public or a private group that allows people of the same college to post, share or comment on the feed. Some people find this easier simply because you can be notified of every post that is submitted. These kinds of online communities give college students leeway to interact and ultimately create the kind of friendly environment that other students are looking for as well.

Living on/Around College

Most students who attend college tend to live near campus for an easy commute and the comfort of being surrounded by other students. While living either in a dorm or at an apartment complex near campus, there are resident advisors or landlords who create events that they aim for students to attend.

Even if this is out of your comfort zone, it couldn’t hurt to attend at least an event or two. What makes it more flexible is the fact that these events have a variety of themes, which allows you to go to only the ones you find most interesting. Of course, there is no pressure for students to go, but the opportunities are created for students who want to try something new as well as create a stronger community around them.

Fraternities/Sororities and Organizations

When heading toward classes or study sessions, students get bombarded with a variety of tabling options, most of which consist of all kinds of student-run organizations and Greek life filled with eager members who are looking for people to become a part of their group.

For fraternities and sororities, there are only so many available, but they are still more than happy to take you in and treat you like family. The same can be said for organizations, which can vary, depending on the university you attend. But if there isn’t an organization that catches your eye, don’t fret! You can create your own organization, and creating an organization is an experience in itself; you meet a vast number of people who are interested in the same subject, and who you essentially share a vision with. Meeting a group of like-minded individuals can help students relate with other students.

In the Classroom

Some of the most interesting people you may come across may actually sit next to you in the classroom. Simply making small talk with peers around you can turn into a solid foundation to build off of.

In addition, if your teacher ever offers extra credit or wants the class to divide into groups, you already are within people you talk to on a daily basis. This is where the “killing two birds with one stone” saying comes in play: learning and making friends in the process.

Group Projects

Speaking of “two birds with one stone,” there is another situation in which most students experience: group projects.

Projects often happen throughout college, and the importance of the group being on the same page is crucial. And in order to be on the same page, group projects require the group to meet outside of school hours, during which time you can spend extra hours with your peers. Seeing fellow students outside of school, in a less tense environment, really helps others get a better vibe and bond with one another.

Stretching Outside of the Norm

There are ways of breaking out to meet people outside of the college atmosphere. Working a job or going to concerts are two of the best ways to help people get out of their comfort zone.

Most of the time, workplace relationships wind up becoming some of the better relationships; people that you work with tend to be from all over the place, creating an atmosphere that makes work more bearable, as well as fun. At the end of the day, everyone wants enjoy their time, even while they are on the clock. Boredom mixed with dead time leads to interesting conversations and fun. Oftentimes, workplaces feel like a mini family after spending so much time together.

Another overlooked place to come out of your shell is through concerts. Look at it like this: everyone wants to hear music and have a good time. Music is therapeutic and talking with someone surrounded by good vibes can lead to some fun interactions. At EDM concerts, there is a motto: PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity and Respect). Although frequently used in the EDM scene, PLUR pertains to all music events. Everyone at a concert has a reason for attending: to have a good time. It wouldn’t hurt to meet new people with a down-for-whatever mentality.

In an atmosphere that is new to you, meeting new people and making friends can be scary. A sense of optimism and a willingness to try things, even to the slightest degree, can help push you out of your comfort zone. And after creating these friendships, it helps make the struggle of college itself easier.

It may seem tough at first, but it only takes one person to help you get over the hump. By just getting one friendly face on your team, it will lead to more confidence — confidence that will push you both to try new things and go new places. And on that journey in itself, you will meet more people in the process. Making friends is essentially the domino effect. Once one is down, the rest will fall into place.

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