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Jun 17 2016
by Meg McDowell

Why I Regret Not Being More Outgoing In High School

By Meg McDowell - Jun 17 2016
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My high school career was made up of "maybes."

I spent a lot of time observing people and chastising myself for not speaking up more. Most of my life I’ve been a quiet person. In elementary school, I spent a lot of time with my nose in a book while I spent my high school years on the back end of a camera.

That’s because I’m shy.

I’ve always been shy, I’m naturally drawn to solitary activities because I feel a little less alone when I’m surrounded by people whose photos it’s my job to take. Through photography, I came a little bit out of my shell, but it was a little too late by then. Everyone had settled into groups and the people I called my friends had grown close without me.

Seeing that really pushed me a little bit more into my shell and, as they all grew closer, I felt myself draw back more and more. I had already had a group of friends alienate me and I could feel the one I made in high school doing the same thing, so I hid more. They had parties they didn’t invite me to, jokes they left me out of and all I could do is wish for more.

Part of it was my fault because I was painfully shy and the moment I felt them draw back, I did the same to avoid the hurt. Maybe if I had been a little more outgoing, I wouldn’t be finishing high school with only one person I really connected with. Maybe I would have a group of people who would laugh about my peculiarities with instead of micro-analyzing them myself.

There are so many things I imagined high school to be, but shy and alienated were not among them.

That is why my goal for college is to make friends and get close to people. That’s one big, cliched “college goal” that every incoming freshman sets for themself; except, for me, it’s as real a goal as fighting off the freshman fifteen or passing my college classes.

It’s going to be excruciatingly hard for me. I don’t have a problem making friends, but sometimes I’m so shy I have a problem keeping them. I can sometimes be perfectly content listening but that’s hasn’t helped me get closer to people.

All of my regrets in high school stem from my shyness. Part of me wishes to be that person who speaks and everyone laughs, but that’s not me. Maybe I’d be a lot closer to people if I was.

I’m going to begin to end this with just one plea, and I’m hoping you will all listen and do as I am asking. If you see someone who doesn’t talk or is pretty quiet or doesn’t have a lot of friends or gets excluded, please include them. When they have been quiet for a while, bring them into the conversation somehow because, for some people, it’s hard to initiate it. If someone sits with you every day, don’t just make plans without them. Be conscientious that being social isn’t as easy for some people as it is for you. I know, I have been there.

I’m looking forward to making friends who I can be there with and share my excitement, my problems and little jokes that just make so much sense when we are together. I’m looking forward to late nights texting and having a Snapchat score over 1,100. I’m looking for more people I can connect with, I’m looking forward to being a heck of a lot less shy and I’m looking forward to not regretting all the maybes like I did in high school.

Lead Image Credit: Aske Hippe Brun via Unsplash

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Meg McDowell - The College of New Jersey

Meg McDowell will be a freshman at The College of New Jersey in the fall with a Chemistry major. She is an avid photographer and journalist. Follow her on twitter @meggiemicks and on instagram @megmcdowellphotography.

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