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Mr Chen's anecdotes.

An Introvert's Guide to Making Friends in School

Are you an introvert?



Well, I am one.


Is the world an extrovert's oyster?


We all know that extroverts tend to outshine introverts purely because they are louder, appear to be more charismatic and confident, secure, and assertive.



Introverts may feel left out as a result, and that's especially if you have a much softer voice. People may think that you just have lesser thoughts or that you don't like people in general. They may mistake you for having less social skills or that you are shy.


These are wildly untrue, though. Introverts can socialise and thrive too.


The science behind introversion and extroversion


a brain

According to research, how extroverted or introverted you are boils down to your brain's genetics. An introvert's brain is more sensitive towards stimulation, while an extrovert's brain has a much higher threshold. In other words, an extrovert will tend to compensate for the "insufficient" stimulation to reach his or her threshold by seeking more stimuli.


Some people may also be ambiverts, meaning you exist somewhere in between an extrovert and an introvert, and you can behave according to what the situation around you calls for.


Your environment plays a part, too

For instance, if you grew up in a household where "children should only be seen and not heard", you may be inadvertently be encouraged to behave and function more like an introvert than an extrovert.



But if you grew up in a household that encourages you to actively express yourself and behave as you are, you may exhibit more extroversion traits than the introversion traits.


One is not better than the other

Before we continue to the section on making friends for introverts, we need to first highlight that both extroverts and introverts have their own strengths.


One is not better than the other. Being an introvert does not mean that you have already "lost" by default. In fact, introverts have extremely valuable strengths, and the most important strength that an introvert has is being good listeners.


Society has been functioning the way it is functioning- people are constantly trying to be louder, more prominent, more expressive, more passionate, more enthusiastic than the next person. Ironically, this leaves more voices left unheard, and this is where introverts can thrive. You listen well. You let people feel heard.


Which leads me to the first survival tip for making friends as an introvert...


Be a good listener



Practice active listening by giving your full attention to whoever you're speaking with. This not only shows that you value their thoughts but also helps you understand them better.


Start small

Begin by making connections with just one or two people. Focus on building deeper relationships rather than trying to befriend everyone at once.



I have a small select group of friends that I've known since secondary school. And today, they are still my close friends even though we are in our 30s. All of us are introverts but we share a supportive, wholesome friendship because of the deep bond we've forged from the start.


The easiest way to start small is by...


... Asking Questions

In general, people enjoy talking about themselves.


Asking questions is a great way to deepen your connection with another person.


Start by asking open-ended questions. Instead of asking yes or no questions, try asking open-ended questions that encourage your friend to share more. For example, instead of asking "Do you like HaiDiLao?" you could ask "What do you like to eat at HaiDiLao?"


Show genuine interest by paying attention to your friend's responses and follow up with related questions or comments. Be present and engaged, put away your phone and give your friend your undivided attention.


Invite your friend to share their opinions and perspectives, be it current events, movies, or social issues. This can lead to engaging discussions and help you understand their perspective on different matters.


No idea what questions to ask as conversation starters?


Here are some suggestions:

  • Ask about their background (family, cultural traditions, siblings - but remember to be respectful of boundaries and not pry into personal or sensitive topics unless your friend volunteers to discuss them)

  • Ask about their hobbies and interests (favourite books, shows, music etc. Bonus - this helps you find shred interests and activities that you can enjoy together)

  • Ask about their future goals and aspirations (knowing their career aspirations and personal ambitions is a good way to understand their values and aspirations)


Utilise social media

If you find breaking the ice in person difficult, leverage on social media and technology. Liking your friend's instastory and replying with a comment is way more manageable than striking up a conversation in person after all.



And the most important tip of all, be yourself and practice self-compassion

It is okay to feel nervous or uncomfortable when trying to make friends. Be kind to yourself and remember that building relationships takes time. Don't feel pressured to be someone you're not in order to fit in. Authenticity is key to forming genuine connections after all.



Now go forth and make some new friends, fellow introvert

I wish you all the best in forging meaningful bonds and thriving as an introvert.


“You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.” (A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara)







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