Coming out of Your Shell – Some tips on “getting out there”

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Halloween is right around the corner and for many, that can only mean one thing: it’s time to dress up and go out. Houses are lit up, music is blasting; all across campus people are having a good time. But not everyone’s Halloween is filled with excitement.

A more withdrawn person might look at the date that bookends October with fear, due to their personality rather than the Halloween spirit. With so much activity, it can be downright frightening to get “out there” for those who keep a low profile. And this fear isn’t just limited to Halloween — for the introvert, college as a whole can be a pretty intimidating place. Here at Michigan State, there are more than 40,000 students bustling around campus, which is quite a large crowd to get lost in — and that crowd always seems to be dividing up into social cliques. With over 700 official groups and a thriving Greek life, it’s easy to see how this particular holiday might be a tad overwhelming.

It can be especially jarring for incoming freshmen. After spending over a decade with similar faces in elementary, middle and high school, suddenly being thrust into a new environment and forced to make new friends can be exciting for some, but terrifying for others. Elena Espinoza, a sophomore studying English, had some trouble when she first came to MSU her freshman year.

“Coming into MSU freshman year, I didn’t really have any friends here,” Espinoza said. “I mean, I knew a couple people from my hometown who were going here, but we didn’t really talk that much.”

Many can probably echo Espinoza’s sentiments. Leaving behind old friends is not an easy task and finding new ones can be even harder. It’s an uphill battle, definitely — but not one that can’t be overcome.

“Just leave your room,” Thalia Maronto, a junior studying English, put simply. “Sit down with people at the cafeteria and don’t be a jerk to people you meet on the street.”

It’s important to take initiative, but that can be difficult to do when you’re not used to putting yourself out there. You have to be willing to meet others halfway and there are a lot of ways to do that.

“I got a job and I found a lot of people I liked to hang out with there,” Maronto said. “You’re all stuck in the same boat, so you have that in common.”

Getting a job is a “two birds with one stone” kind of deal: make money and meet new people. Michigan State hires around 17,000 students every year for a myriad of different positions, from cashiers to graphic designers, so it might be a good idea to do some job searching at
msu.joinhandshake.com (formerly MySpartanCareer).

Of course, MSU has more social platforms to offer, other than just jobs, and if you don’t want to be employed try finding a club that interests you. If you missed Sparticipation, you can still find out about the plethora of student organizations on MSU’s student life website. Or, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, try starting one yourself! And make sure you get to know your classmates, they can be invaluable when finals come around and the going gets tough.

If you’re afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone – it’s okay. Everyone’s in the same position. Every class you take and every organization you join is a clean slate, a chance to start fresh. So this Halloween, go to a party, watch a scary movie with some friends or take a trip with your coworkers to a haunted house. Whatever you decide to do, just be yourself.

 

Ben Lin is a junior studying professional writing and looking to pursue education. In addition to writing for ing, he is also part of the writing teams for MSU Telecaster’s TURN and SideShow. He really likes flannel.