If you want to get in shape, you have to work out. If you want to do well on a test, you have to study. Examples like this seem obvious, but on the subject of making friends, many people feel stuck. Making friends is no different than anything else. If you want to make more friends and meet new people, you have to put in effort. Push yourself, and little by little you will see results!
1. Never sit by yourself in Frank. During my first year, I gave myself the challenge to never sit alone in Frank even when I had no previous plans to meet someone there. Sometimes, I would see someone I knew in line and ask where he or she was sitting. Other times, I would see a friend sitting with his or her friends and ask to join the table. The worst rejection I heard was, “Sorry, we’re just leaving.” No big deal, try again. If this seems like a risk, don’t worry, there is a big reward! You meet all the people at the table and you get a while to talk and learn about them. Even as a senior, I do my best to meet new people in Frank. Also, when I lived in Texas for a semester, I met my best friends because I sat at their table in the dining hall.
2. Take “Hey” to the next level. You immediately become more interesting if you respond to “Hey, how’s it going?” with more than “good” or “fine.” Even if you use the same response for everyone you talk to that day, it is still miles better than one word. A simple fix is to say where you are headed. “Trying out Zumba class. I heard it was fun.” “A little nervous, I’m about to take an Econ midterm.” If you can add, “How about yourself?” or “you?” to the end of your response, congratulations, you’ve just taken “hey” to the next level.
3. Learn to talk to people anywhere. If you can casually strike up a conversation at the waffle makers, the Coop mail line or the gym, don’t be surprised when your bar game goes through the roof. College is the perfect place to start training your brain to turn anything into a conversation starter. I’m not directly advising you to pick people up at the waffle makers, but when you do want to meet someone, it’s nice to rely on the skills you’ve been practicing.
4. Show respect. Smile. Hold the door. Say please and thank you. Don’t flake on plans. Treat all people the way you want to be treated, including staff and other students. Don’t gossip. When you spill something, clean it up. The simple things make a big difference and you never know who is taking notice.
5. Be a light. There are a handful of students, whom I may not be best friends with, but I look forward to seeing them around campus because their presence and attitude make me feel happy. More importantly, I know they give everyone the same respect and kindness they give me. Throughout the years, they have inspired me to get out of my own bubble and share my joy with others.
I hope my advice above not only brings you more friends, but also allows you to be the light in someone else’s day, just as so many Colgate students have been the light in mine.