Shy and anxious being around new people at uni

I am really shy and don’t like meeting new people and I don’t like crowds either, they make me nervous and I get really hot and my heart pumps fast. I am also gay and I haven’t told any one yet. I am not really close enough to anyone to be able to tell them with trust. Melb uni is so big and there’s so many people it has made be not want to be here, to stay away from the crowds, even the lectures, and so it has affected my studies a lot. I just don’t know what to do, I don’t want to fail because I just didn’t show up because I get nervous around other people. What should I do?

It sounds like you are facing some major personal struggles at the moment. Well done on persevering with your studies, even though your shyness has made it uncomfortable for you to be on campus.

The physical responses you describe sound like symptoms of “social anxiety”. Anxiety is often very tied up with being comfortable with who you are and taking the risk of being accepted by others. It may best be addressed by finding some safe places and relationships where you can start to build your confidence in relating to others and being accepted. If you would like some more assistance in managing the shyness/anxiety that gets in the way of this, Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) regularly runs workshops on anxiety, social anxiety, mindfulness and creating connections with others. Or you can book an individual appointment with one of our counsellors.

The anxiety you describe is often present for young people who are gay due to fear of judgement and the fact that it can be difficult to feel connected to others when we are holding back a part of ourselves. The University of Melbourne has a Coming Out Support Group if you would like to explore this in a safe place and meet other people who are experiencing something similar.

In the meantime, try out some of the relaxation, meditation and breathing exercises on our website to help you manage the physical sensations of anxiety while you attend classes. Remember that shyness and social anxiety are both very common, but it is possible to overcome them so they don’t get in the way of living your life.

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