Getting more vocal and social
College is a time of transition that can cause stress and anxiety for students when they encounter new pressures from academics, finances and their new social lives.
Fortunately for students struggling with shyness and other anxiety issues, there are certain things they can do to prepare for university life, said Kay Brumbaugh, the Outreach Coordinator and Psychologist in the Counseling and Psychological Services department of UH.
“Educate yourself about the differences between normal stress and an anxiety disorder,” Brumbaugh said. “Get involved with the UH community and know what resources are available for support.”
Broadcast journalism junior Jesse Hudgens offers his advice to those who haven’t broken out of their shell.
“It’s about getting social opportunities. Join a club on campus. My social life at UH didn’t pick up until I joined COOG Radio and GLOBAL, the LGBT group on campus,” Hudgens said.
English senior Anthea Rafique said it takes a little courage and self-motivation.
“I would recommend to just put yourself out there, speak up, walk confidently, smile and try something you have never done — within reason — which will give you experience and, of course, bragging rights to say ‘Oh, I have done that!’” Rafiqe said.
But it’s not always that easy. Chemistry junior Josué Portillo has heard this all before.
“It’s a lot harder than just putting yourself out there,” Portillo said. “It’s crippling.”
He also believes the media is responsible for downplaying what it means to be a shy person.
“Television shows have some pretty girl acting weird and calling that being that socially awkward when it’s not,” Portillo said. “It’s insulting. If being bubbly and cute is socially awkward, I’d hate to know what I have.”
Brumbaugh said it takes time to overcome shyness, but individuals that focus on building self-confidence and using positive self-talk to reduce stress and make their university experience a little more comfortable.
“CAPS offers group counseling, which is a popular and beneficial service to address shyness and anxiety concerns,” Brumbaugh said. “Individuals meet weekly with other group members and one or two clinicians to explore new ways of coping, behaving and interacting with others.”
Even though there are a lot of resources and advice to help deal with shyness, perhaps one of the least difficult is to embrace who you are.
“Our society glorifies the celebrity, the outspoken, but very rarely celebrates the quiet and reflective,” Hudgens said. “Many of your classmates appear to have it all together, but most everyone feels some degree of insecurity.”