Going to college is a life-changing event in any case. You suddenly have to cope with a completely different schedule, among strangers, often far for home, and having to manage your life on your own, from making sure you get to class on time to looking after yourself.
If you are afflicted with social anxiety, dorm life in particular will be a challenge. Back at home, when situations overwhelmed you, you could at least take refuge in your home, in your room, and be alone. But at college, shared accommodation makes this impossible.
It is therefore imperative that you put in place strategies to help you manage your social anxiety in college dorms – and moving out into a flat on your own is definitely not one of them!
Control your negative thoughts
If you suffer from social anxiety, college accommodation will more likely than not trigger negative thinking about yourself. You may be worried that people are wondering what you are doing at the slightest noise you make and therefore not be able to do much more than just sit on your bed or stare for hours out your window.
However, the simple truth is that other students will be much more interested in what they are doing at any given time than wonder about you. Then, dorms are hardly renowned for being havens of peace, so chances are that you will be, by far, the quietest person.
Look after yourself
Stress can play havoc with your body and in turn exacerbate your social anxiety so make sure you eat regularly and healthily, exercise, get enough sleep and follow a relaxation routine such as breathing, mindfulness meditation, or whatever brings you serenity.
Meet people one at a time
What makes dorm life so stressful for someone suffering from social anxiety is the idea of a sea of “them” outside your door. Even if meeting people is not easy for you, try to join a club or student organization which will enable you to meet a few people at a time around a shared interest, and when you go back to your room, you will know that you have a few friends out there and the world won’t feel so anonymous.
Seek professional help if needed
One of the symptoms of social anxiety is to come to believe that you are the only person struggling with this issue. However, many campuses have counselors and therapists nowadays, which is evidence that coping with college life is not that straightforward for everybody. Statistics suggest that 10-15% of students use these facilities – and of course, there is those who are too affected to even ask for help. So you are not alone, and you are certainly not abnormal.
As a student, you will have access to this support network, so don’t hesitate. You may even meet others who are experiencing similar problems and find reassurances and friendship.
Living in dorms is very likely to take you out of your comfort zone, but as you well know, the only way to deal with it is by taking on the challenge!