Being socially awkward in college

Elizabeth Bickham is a student at the University of Redlands studying Environmental Science and Spatial Studies. She was born and raised in California and plans to stay there. She is very active in college, being the president of United States Green Building Council and also a member in many other clubs. Elizabeth plans to get a career in an environmental organization after graduating in 2015, and then start taking steps to get a graduate degree.

Almost everyone in college has been subject to an awkward situation, or an embarrassing situation. This seems to happen most often while starting out as a freshman at a college. If the individual is shy or does not make friends easily, this can be devastating to their self-confidence. Awkward situations happen to everyone, but it is hard to be convinced that these events don’t really matter.
There are a lot of different ways that students can feel awkward or an all around lower life-form. There is the first day of classes, where there is a rush to buddy up to someone in case there is a dreaded group project. Then there is the lunch hour, where students are either happily conversing or sitting alone in a corner eating a mushy sandwich. Smaller situations can leave an individual kicking themselves the rest of the day: bumping into someone’s chair, knocking over a drink, missing a chance to wave to someone. The universal fear is a phone loudly blaring during a lecture. Extra points to those phones with the unique pop-song ringtones. These situations also depend on if a student is at a big college or a small one. In a larger university, not talking to someone all day might be normal, but in a smaller one it is somewhat embarrassing if you did not say hello to your lab partner when passing each other in the halls.
So, the question is, are you just an exceptionally awkward college student? Some people are natural extroverts and will fit right in almost anywhere they go. Fortunately for the rest of us, introverts make up about 50% of the population, according to Some people really are natural friend makers and know how to converse with splendor and ease, but a big part of the population is not, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Yi-Fu Tuan, in his book Space and Place, talks about how space from people is needed in order to develop a better sense of self. So sitting alone at lunch? Totally okay. Also, for almost all less-than-cool situations, people are too concerned with something embarrassing they did during the day and didn’t even notice that you basically threw your own pencil across the room. Some people might remember your ringtone from when it went off in class, but probably not. The truth is, everyone is wrapped up in their own days and feelings and probably will not judge what you are doing no matter how oddball you feel.
You feeling awkward is not the end of the world. If anyone noticed you eating that mushy sandwich alone, running into that door frame before walking into the classroom, or screwing up a hug, they probably won’t even remember it by the time they fall asleep. Everyone has bad days and everyone has felt awkward in their lives. You are not alone and nobody will think less of you for being yourself.

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