Advice for Awkward People

Dear Izzy,

So I’m a really quiet and shy person, and I often fade into the background of things. Sometimes when I’m with my close friends, I’m the one starting up conversations and making people laugh. But other times if I don’t know as many people in a group, I can clam up and close myself off, and then a barrel of insecurities try to mow me down. It’s the degrees of separation that make a difference, y’know?

I feel like this aspect of me ends up putting myself at a distance between myself and my more outgoing friends. I want to be more open and get out of my comfort zone more, but I also don't know if I'll clam up again. I'm having a really rough time with this, do you have any advice?

Closed Like A Mussel

Dear CLAM,

Let me say upfront that there’s nothing wrong with how you are feeling! There is always something comforting about taking a weekend off to just stay in your room and take time for yourself. It’s easy to lose touch of that "me time" in the midst of college, so don’t abandon it entirely.

Talking with your friends about your insecurities will seem really scary, but it is honestly one of the better solutions. I encourage doing something smaller and more low-key. Don’t be afraid to vocalize how you’re feeling and take control of how you want to spend time with your friends, I'm sure they'll understand. And who knows, some of them might even feel the same way you're feeling.

If you want to commit to opening yourself up more, start small. Start talking with your friend’s friends, and slowly branch out to their friends of friends when you’re ready to. It’s little changes like these that can often make the biggest impact, so start small – and your comfort will gradually grow.

Most importantly, don’t change who you are and try to be this super social butterfly to appease your friends. If you’ve already talked to them and they're not even trying to accommodate your needs, then they don’t care that much about how you really feel. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and I’m sorry if it comes out harsh. But your own personal well-being and comfort are way more important than what other people think about you. So no matter what happens, just do you. That’s the big takeaway.

Hope this helps!