Nervousness in Numbers: A Shy Person’s Guide to Freshers’ Week


It’s that time of year again where the streets of Durham will be filled with hopeful first years, all expecting to live their best years as they embark on a journey away from home. When I first arrived at Durham, I was excited, but I also felt as if my heart was going to jump out of my throat and do a runner. It’s safe to say that I, like many others, felt grossly unequipped for a life outside of my hometown.

When I first arrived at Durham I felt as if my heart was going to jump out of my throat and do a runner

Freshers’ Week is an extremely busy time. Life tends to move at a faster pace than normal as you adjust to both a new routine and a new area. Many people expect to dive headfirst into university life, seizing every opportunity available within their fingertips, and essentially living their most rounded lives.

Yet most students only test the waters, approaching every situation with a calculated hesitation. Out of self-preservation shy people, like myself, tend to freeze at the thought of the unpredictable. But this is what essentially sums up Freshers’ Week as you are constantly meeting new people and exposed to new situations. However, you are not alone with how you feel; these feelings of shyness are far more common than one would expect, with The Guardian reporting in 2018 that 1 in 3 first-year students suffer from an anxiety disorder.

1 in 3 first year students suffer from an anxiety disorder

The root cause of my shyness was a parasitic doubt that crept behind every thought I formed. However, the solution was annoyingly simple – stop overthinking – a task much easier said than done. It’s so easy for your mind to invade situations and wring out its humanity, causing you to forget how normal your feelings are. Once you stop over-analysing, the dining hall resumes its former role as a place to eat as opposed to the monstrous pit fashioned by your mind. But even if you leave Michaelmas term still afraid of the dining hall, that’s okay, adjustment takes time, but it won’t be nearly as terrifying as it was when you first stepped into it.

I found it vital to adapt my attitude towards the unpredictable. Whilst this didn’t happen overnight, I kept on challenging myself with tasks until the tasks weren’t so challenging anymore. By trying to put yourself out there and being unapologetically yourself, that lump in your throat will eventually subside as you find your voice with a group of friends you naturally connect with. Freshers’ Week is an opportunity to find these people as well as meet new people from varying walks of life.

that lump in your throat will eventually subside

Apprehension and adventure will always share a symbiotic relationship. It took me 18 years to realise that most people don’t really know what they’re doing, after all, and university itself is an adventure jumpstarted by Freshers’ Week. Boiled down, Freshers’ Week is only (as the title suggests) a week of your life. So, take things slowly, don’t place so much pressure on forcing yourself to have a good time, and take a minute to breathe. Things tend to fall into place.


Photograph via Pixabay

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