It's day day one at a new school, and thanks to all that shopping, you're as ready as you'll ever be…but all you can think about is who you're going to sit with at lunch. Trust us: Whether it's high school, college, or even your first day at a new gig, it's always the same. Being on your own can be totally freak-out worthy! But there are a few easy tricks for making friends that a) aren't awkward, b) are actually things everyone who's good at making friends does already, and c) will have you ruling your own crew in no time. Read on.
Leave Your Door Open
We mean this both figuratively and literally. On your first day, it can be tempting to shut the door (your dorm room door, your locker door) and focus on settling in. But there will be plenty of time for that later down the line, so instead, try to make connections. Yes, even if it means being a little less than organized over those first few days—you'll live, we promise!
If you're in college, leaving the door open to your dorm room means everyone from hallmates to your RA will probably pop in to say hello…and if by some chance you've beat your roommate to your newly-shared digs, she'll feel more welcomed by an open door than a closed one (first impressions matter, people!). If you're in high school, the same rules apply to your locker: Spend a little extra time packing and unpacking your books in between classes…you never know which neighbor might strike up a convo.
And don't forget to give your space a little spice with a few personal touches. Not only is that going to help you feel more at ease, it provides other people with things to comment on and talk about—they call them conversation starters for a reason.
Questions Are Key
A universal truth: People like to talk about themselves. If you're stuck for an opening line, ask that cool-looking girl in your chem class where she got her bracelet, or that cute guy in your English lecture which discussion group he joined. Questions are ideal icebreakers because they let the other person do a little personal gabbing—and create an environment where they'll ask you a question in return. Bingo: Conversation!
Get Extra Extra-Curricular
In the words of Woody Allen, 80 percent of success in life can be attributed to simply showing up. Psychological studies reveal that the same rule applies to forming friendships: By just exposing yourself to people and joining the club (whether that means soccer, yearbook, or volunteering), you're setting yourself up to connect. An added bonus? By making commitments to the kinds of activities you enjoy, you're going to end up naturally hanging out with like-minded people. Plus, the cadence of extra-curriculars means that you'll get to chill with these folks on a regular basis, putting you solidly on your way to making close buds.
Yes, Your Outfit Matters
Being confident is a key part of making new friends, and the quickest way to inject a shot of self-confidence is by slipping into something that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. Skip the super-trendy dress or the badass boots on day one and go with a look that really makes you feel like you. (Props if that is the super-trendy dress and the badass boots.) There's enough to worry about when you're starting something new without adding a style shift to the list: Just be yourself—in your absolute favorite ensemble, of course.
Remember: You're Not the Only One Who's Nervous
Sure, it might seem like the lunch table seating charts are set and cliques aren't accepting new applications, but not only is that not true, there are also plenty of other people just like you looking to make new buds, whether they're new themselves or not. Try not to be intimidated, and don't let perceived social rules stand in your way. Fortune favors the brave when it comes to making new friends.
Be Super Approachable, Not Stand-Off-Ish
We know, we know, this one sounds a little cheerleader-esque. But that's definitely not a bad thing: Being approachable means that (you guessed it) you're more likely to be approached.
Smiling is a great headstart, in no small part because studies show that people who don't smile tend to have a harder time forming relationships. So flash a smile, or if you feel awkward baring your pearly whites for no reason while you're waiting for the next class to start, just consciously think about putting on a pleasant expression. More often than not, we wear our inner worries on our faces without realizing it. So you could think you look normal while you're actually scowling, all of which is to say: Breathe. Relax. Smile. Good?
Not Everyone's Going to Be Your Bestie, So Don't Force It
Didn't meet anyone who you think is going to turn out to be your lifelong bud during the first day? Don't stress. Those people are hard to come by, no matter how long you've been a part of any particular community. But it's not like you've wasted any time: Putting yourself out there and making those first-day connections are crucial steps. If for no other reason than to have some tablemates at lunch.
Written by Kathryn Amey