Feeling incapable of socializing

I’m in my second semester of my first year in uni and I still feel like I’m not able to socialise as openly as I did in high school. I feel like people here are more individualistic, and I’m finding it hard to bring myself to approach other people, then to know how to maintain a conversation with them and this is really hindering me. Help?

Thanks for your question. It sounds like you are experiencing difficulties connecting with others at university compared to high school. This is a common situation a lot of university students experience, especially in a transition phase.

From your question it appears there are two concerns. One is that you feel other students are more focused on themselves, rather than connecting with others. University is a more adult environment compared to high school and it can often be harder to form social connections. The University environment requires a lot more pro-activeness when establishing social networks. The difference to High School is that University has less common structures for students. Students attend and disperse after lectures/ tutes, and you might find that you find only a few familiar faces in other subjects. This means that you need to take every opportunity to connect whenever it presents: group work in one subject, a few students going to have lunch after a lecture, or perhaps joining a club or activity.

Also, don’t let yourself get bluffed by the surface, where it seems that no-one is interested in contact, that everybody’s self-sufficient. There are a lot of peers out there on campus who feel exactly the same way. Think of international students who need to find their feet and other first years who don’t know anyone.

In relation to starting and maintaining a conversation, I’m wondering if you can remember what you did in high school that helped you to form friendships. I’m sure you have the ability and skills; it might be worthwhile to think about your existing strengths. Are there are people in your classes who have common interests that you could approach? Perhaps one way to begin a conversation is to talk about shared university experiences that could be related to a subject you are studying together. You might find this information helpful.

If you’d like to talk explore this further, I’d encourage you to make a time to see a counsellor. Counsellors from Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) are available to assist.

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