Introducing: No Stress November

funny-no-shave-november-no-job-decemberHey readers! Can you believe it’s practically November? In the past month, we’ve experienced a major hurricane, countless Halloween parties, and the devastating aftermath of the Brangelina split — and yet somehow, it feels like October went by in a flash.

November tends to be one of my busiest months of the year at work and in school, with my calendar filling up with events and deadlines well before the month even begins. This year, to stay sane at an admittedly crazy time, I’m implementing No Stress November, a 30-day wellness challenge designed to decompress for a few minutes each day. I invite you to join me!

Below is my list of 30 items to complete throughout the 30 days of November. The rule is to do at least one of these things per day (with repeats allowed!), and you are welcome to customize the list to meet your own needs. Planning to tag along? Use the hashtag #NoStressNovember on social media and share what you’re up to! 🙂

Below is my list for the No Stress November challenge. Feel free to use all of these or switch them up based on your personal preferences. I’ll check in throughout the month with my own progress and reflections. Enjoy!

  1. Go for a 30-minute walk outside.
  2. Cook a meal you’ve never made before.
  3. Color in an adult coloring book.
  4. Donate your time to community service.
  5. Get your hair professionally done.
  6. Spend 30 minutes meditating.
  7. Take a full day away from social media.
  8. Lay out by the pool.
  9. Buy yourself fresh flowers.
  10. Test out a new makeup tutorial.
  11. Practice 30 minutes of yoga.
  12. Visit a place you have never been before.
  13. Go out for brunch.
  14. Perform a random act of kindness.
  15. Clean out your purse/briefcase.
  16. Lift weights.
  17. Write a love letter (or kind note) to yourself.
  18. Watch a documentary or TED Talk.
  19. Take extra time to pamper yourself.
  20. Write down 50 things you are thankful for.
  21. Connect with an old friend.
  22. De-clutter an area of your home.
  23. Make a list of places to visit in the next five years.
  24. Dedicate 30 minutes to writing.
  25. Create a fun playlist.
  26. Revamp your monthly budget.
  27. Build something with LEGOs.
  28. Watch stand-up comedy.
  29. Use essential oils.
  30. Spend the day with family.

Participating with me? Let me know in the comments section below, and share your progress on social media with the hashtag #NoStressNovember!

Link Love Wednesday: Everyone Loves Puppies

budweiser puppyHappy Wednesday and Happy February! I’m not sure if you knew this, but there was a pretty important football game that took place over the weekend. Did you catch it? Thankfully, as a non-Seahawks fan, the odds were ever in my favor, but as a marketing/PR professional, I was more invested in the commercials than anything else!

What was your favorite commercial? Did you do anything fun for the Super Bowl? Sound off with your Super Bowl excitement in the comments section below!

What are your favorite links? Sound off in the comments section below!

Go Patriots! 🙂

How To Overcome Your Fears in One Simple Step

lion-cub-singita-castletonA few weeks ago, I was asked to speak on a career-related panel in front of 300 students. The invitation was incredibly exciting, and I was honored to share my story with others who would benefit from my experience. A few years ago, however, this type of speaking engagement would have completely terrified me.

As a high schooler, I was so afraid of public speaking that I used to shake before presenting in my English class. I was an All-American cheerleader and loved talking to people one-on-one, but whenever I had to give a presentation in class, my heart raced and my teeth chattered. When I first enrolled in college, the fear had subsided somewhat, but I still found myself mumbling “I’m sorry” in the middle of speech flubs.

However, over the years, I have learned how to manage this fear. During my senior year of college, I taught conference workshops on blogging and social media, and a few lunchtime seminars focused on resume writing and interview skills. Most recently, I spoke on the aforementioned panel regarding the importance of communication skills in the workforce. I may still not be the perfect speaker — I am guilty of a few ums here and there! — and I may still get butterflies in my stomach before I present, but I overcome my fear through action.

In other words, we can overcome our fears by doing the thing we are afraid of. I’m not suggesting you do something completely reckless and life-threatening (I am afraid of the bear that I saw near my neighborhood last month, and I am not going to approach him with food to try and get over that fear), but I do believe that the best way to move past our fears and insecurities is to face them head on and take action.

Public speaking still makes me nervous, but I overcome those nerves by saying “yes” to those public speaking engagements and using them as opportunities for growth. Most, if not all, members of the audience are not there to criticize or condemn what I am saying. They are there to learn. Therefore, I recognize that by speaking to that audience, even if I stumble over a word, I am providing helpful advice and information. I have value.

As my friend Max likes to say, do one thing every day that scares you. By doing this, you are quieting those voices of inadequacy and lessening your fear every time. You are saying yes to opportunities and learning from them. You are growing. You are allowing yourself to be more of the person that you want to be.

Want to overcome your fears? Give yourself a chance to face them.

The Weekend Five: How To Be A Ladies’ Man In College

Before I begin, I would like to explain the reasoning behind today’s Weekend Five. A few weeks ago, when I was looking through my blog’s analytics, I noticed that a lot of people had discovered my blog by searching “how to be a ladies’ man in college,” even though I have never written anything like that in the past. When I mentioned this to some of my friends, they laughed and suggested I actually write about it.

I could go the humor route this week, but instead, this blog will actually provide tips for college guys on attracting the quality girls the right way. We’ve all dealt with the obvious womanizers in the past and most of us don’t find it as appealing as you might think. Here are five tips that could help you boys out in the dating department! (Note: This is not written for the guys looking strictly for one-night stands. If that’s your intent, you might want to try out another site!)

The Weekend Five: How To Be A Ladies’ Man In College

1. Remember the little things.
Guys, when a girl talks to you, listen. This may sound like a no-brainer, but girls love it when you remember the little details of the story they tell you or the day they spent with you. Pay attention because it shows her that you care and that you’re willing to go the extra mile.

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2. Learn how to handle your liquor.
Most girls don’t find excessively drunk guys attractive (unless they are the types of girls who also get excessively drunk). If you’re going to drink alcohol, know your limits and don’t push them. After all, if you aren’t dating already and she has seen you throw up, chances are she won’t consider you a viable dating option.

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3. Don’t badmouth your exes.
The rules about how often or when exes should be mentioned can be tricky, but the general rule is that you should avoid talking to a potential girlfriend about any of your exes in great detail. If you say a lot of negative things about the girls you previously dated, it is easy for the new girl to assume that you would do the same to her if things didn’t work out. I learned this the hard way, and would consider anyone who shares too many details of a previous relationship to be a poor way to invest my time.

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4. Be interesting, funny and yourself.
Don’t try to “play it cool.” Talk about your interests and be yourself early on, because it can help both of you determine if your personalities mesh well. It sets you apart from the crowd and helps you realize whether or not you have anything in common. Show that you have an interest in something — there’s nothing better than meeting a guy who has something he cares about and is knowledgeable of.

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5. Stand up for what you want.
Be brave. Don’t sit in a corner and wallow in the friend zone if you’re not willing to tell her how you feel. If she says no, back off, but don’t be afraid to at least ask her out. Assertiveness is an attractive quality to have, and you can’t get what you want if you don’t act on it.

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What are some of your tips?

The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers

Each month, I write The Freshman 15, my list of fifteen tips for college freshmen based on various themes, such as homesickness, time management skills, dating and dorm room must-haves. About to begin my third year of college, I have definitely learned a lot from my experiences and feel that I have some pointers for incoming freshmen, but I still have plenty to learn from the people around me. This month, fifteen other college students and college graduates have contributed their own advice with us about navigating through university life, and I am excited to share the tips they sent me with you. 🙂 Enjoy!

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The Freshman 15: Advice From Readers

1. Get involved in Greek life.
Joining a sorority does three things, in stages: as a freshmen, it give you an instant social network outside of your dorm floor; as an undergrad, it gives you leadership opportunities for your resume and something extracurricular-related to talk about at internship interviews; and as a college graduate, it gives you friends for life. (It will also in general improve your choreographed dancing skills and guarantee you never eat lunch alone). I recommend Greek Life to almost every incoming freshman I know.
– Molly, Northeastern University, Smart Pretty & Awkward 

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2. Know your resources.
I think college students should take advantage of the resources they have on campus, especially the mental health/counseling department. As a student away from home, you’re very prone to feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, etc. It’s good to talk to someone about it, and it’s even better to recognize that you’re not alone. 🙂
– Kevina, University of Florida, Kevina-Lee.Net

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 3. Find your perfect balance.
My first semester I holed up in my room most the time and studied a ton, and I got great grades. My second semester, I went out and partied, worked on some extracurricular clubs and events, dated, and had a ton of fun. My grades, however, suffered. It takes a while to learn how to balance having fun and enjoying your year with making decent grades, however, it is much more rewarding to try. One of the things my dad told me he regretted about his college experience is that he stayed in his room all the time, worked 3 jobs, and didn’t go out and meet people. It’s taking me some time to learn the balance, but I’m definitely enjoying it more.
– Carson, University of Central Florida, the sky and trees all blur

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4. Follow the First Five Rule.
For every class especially giant lectures halls, sit within the first five rows. This enables you to pay attention and not text or go on facebook. You also may learn valuable information before class when other students are talking to the professor that may help clarify something or help you with the next test. Sitting in the first five rows also lets the professor see your face more which in return may help your grade since he/she realizes you make the effort to come to class all the time and pay attention! (If a classroom only has five rows… then sit in the first three rows.)
– Heather, Broward College

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5. Work on your group project etiquette.
Participate in your group projects. Do more than you have to. Go above and beyond. People always remember slackers, and one day, you may see these slackers again looking for a job where YOU work. You will gladly tell your boss that this person was a slacker. Just because you’re in the “real world now” doesn’t mean your work ethic has changed. Treat the classes in your major like your job and your classmates like future coworkers because one day, they might be.
– Karina, University of Central Florida, Karina Creative

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6. Find a unique way to get involved.
Get involved in interests/hobbies outside your major. It helps you stay sane when you get stressed/burnt out and continue to meet new people, because you end up seeing the exact same people in class when you hit junior/senior year.
– Courtney, Boston area, Coffee and Debussy

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7. Look for a university job.
If you plan on applying for a job, look for one on campus. They will be more flexible with your schedule.
– Jessie, University of Central Florida 

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8. Know your strengths and trust in them.
Don’t let anyone discourage you from taking a class. Just because someone else thinks it’s hard doesn’t mean you can’t step up to the challenge. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t be the best (such as advisors, friends or anyone who might just be jealous of you).
– Alexandra, University of South Florida

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9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Professors are more than willing and eager to help students who are either struggling or looking for reassurance. If you feel like you could use some extra guidance battling homesickness, exploring majors, picking classes, or healing a sore throat, all schools offer help through counseling enters, career services, advisors, and health centers! Take advantage of the resources your school has to offer and don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance! These offices are there for a reason!
– Beth, University of Central Florida, The Utterings and Mutterings of a B.A.G. Lady

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10. Keep your place clean.
Clean the place at least once a week. If you don’t, before you know it, it will look like a hellhole. It’s harder to clean a hellhole than just cleaning once or twice a week. Besides, hellholes are hell to live in. 🙂
– Emily, Palm Beach State College 

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11. Confidence is everything.
Before you go to any smaller class for the first week or so, be prepared to say something about yourself. And when you get called on, act like the most confident person in the room at that moment. People are attracted to it and you make instant friends– or get a relationship out of it! 😉
– Kate, University of Central Florida, Concrete Canyons

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12.  To get the meal plan or not get the meal plan?
I say don’t get the meal plan. Understanding that some people can’t afford anything other than the meal plan (you are the only exceptions), for those of you doing it because you think it’s the real “college experience” and you’ll meet tons of people, you’re wrong. The food is horrible, even if a slice of pizza looks good, it will never taste good. The amazing looking pasta will also taste disgusting as will anything else you eat there. The appeal of the “bottomless” food is also your worst enemy. The only thing worth eating in a dining hall is the desserts and eating too many of those will lead to the very thing that gives this blog its namesake. Instead, locate some convenient inexpensive food joints off campus or in the student union, or make monthly trips to the grocery store to stock up your dorm room. It works and it’s actually pretty convenient. (Hint: Always grocery shop after eating a big meal. If you’re hungry, those Cheez Its and Oreos look really good. If you’re full, you’ll be happier settling for granola bars and 100 calorie pack pretzels.)
– Melissa, Florida State University, Melissa Thinks You Should Read This

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13. Stay on top of things!
Make yourself a schedule of all your activites and classes, as well as when you have to study. Organization helps a lot.
– Shantel, Arizona State University, Girl Meets World

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14. Listen to your mother.
You can never have too many washcloths or pairs of underwear.
– Susan, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (my mom!)

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15. Don’t put yourself in a box.
Make sure to not limit yourself. This is college. You can be yourself without labels and preset stereotypes.  You are supposed to try new things and explore your interests.  Join clubs that are different. Try activities and events that stand out from the norm, because these are the experiences that will make the best memories and possibly uncover talents you didn’t know you had. Your new best friend, style, major, hobby, or career could be just around the campus corner.
– Jessica, University of Central Florida

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Bonus Tips:

From Melissa, Florida State University, Melissa Thinks You Should Read This

16. Some friends are semesterly.
It happens. You meet someone you have a class with or that lives in your dorm and you get along really well. You have a lot to talk about whether it’s the number of times your teacher snorted in a single class, the lack of usable washing machines in the laundry room, or the creepy old janitor who plays practical jokes on you in the hall. You text occasionally and instantly accept their Facebook friend request. Then after a semester or two, you have different classes and maybe you’re living in a different dorm or apartment. You’ll make new friends and the cycle will start all over again. Don’t fight it and don’t be angry. This isn’t to say that all friends are semesterly. Some are for years and some are for life. However, some of them will always tag team it.
17. Don’t make long-term plans with high school friends.
This isn’t to say that you and your besties from high school will never speak again. However, before you leave for college, you might feel nostalgic and scared and plan a specific weekend in the far future to visit a friend at another school. This is a no no. As hard as it is to believe, you will make new friends in college. You’ll have parties to go to, football games to tailgate for, study groups to attend, and just about a billion other things that you and your new friends will do. Don’t risk already having a perfectly good weekend blocked out because you were scared a few months ago. You could miss out on something really great and even more opportunities to meet people. Once you’ve started college, wait a while to make plans to visit people. Even then, you might be so happy and comfortable at school that you’ll tell your friends from home, “Sorry, buddy. See you at Thanksgiving.” You can tell them all about your awesome college life as you pass the yams.

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From Emily, Palm Beach State College

18. Stay in shape!
Don’t abandon the gym. Although it takes time away from partying and schoolwork, all that partying adds fat, and without the gym, you’ll gain weight.

19. Be mindful of your health.
Although you’re too lazy to make a gourmet meal like Mom used to make, don’t live off of fast food. Make a rule to only eat it three times per week max. A lot of stores have college student easy cookbooks you can use, and you should always have bread around to make sandwiches.

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From Karina, University of Central Florida, Karina Creative

20. Only buy the books you need.
Never buy your books in the bookstore; order from Chegg. If your professor says you don’t need the book, you don’t need the book.

21. Maintain some social media discretion!
NEVER post anything on your facebook/twitter/flickr/tumblr you wouldn’t want your boss/grandma to see.

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Thank you to everyone who contributed to this blog! 🙂 You guys are amazing!

To my readers who have gone through college: what was the most important thing you learned your freshman year?
 

The Freshman 15: Tips for Meeting New People

Before I started college, one of my biggest concerns was that I would have trouble making new friends. After all, most of the people I socialized with in high school had chosen other universities, and ever since middle school, I was a little shy around new people. How was I going to acquire a whole new clique in such a short period of time, when it had already taken me thirteen years of school to really figure out who my friends were back home?

Ironically enough, within a few months of college I had already made more friends than I knew what to do with! Meeting so many people that early on and watching the way they interacted with others was what really helped me to create such strong friendships in that first semester, and in turn it made my freshman year of college much more memorable. 🙂

This month, let’s talk about ways to meet new people, make a good first impression and forming lasting friendships.Tweet this!

The Freshman 15: Tips for Meeting New People

1. Smile — it makes you more approachable.
It’s scary to just walk up to someone you don’t know and strike up a conversation, but it’s even worse when that person is off brooding in the corner somewhere. A simple smile makes you much more accessible, simple as that. Positivity attracts positivity (maybe not in science, but hey – I’m a communications major!), and when you look like you’re happy and having a good time, people start wanting to have a good time with you. Things to avoid: painfully phony pageant smile, creepy clown smile 🙂

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2. Get out of your dorm room.
The more you get out, the more chances you’ll have to meet new people! Instead of eating alone in your room, go to the dining hall where you’re much more likely to find someone to chat with. Talk to that random person in the laundry room whose shirt you like. It may sound crazy, but sometimes the most mundane tasks can become the easiest ice-breakers and friendship starters. Go to events — even the cheesy ones that your RA has put together — because chances are, there will be others in the same boat as you. The ugly truth: if you never leave your room, the only friend you’ll have is yourself.

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3. Branch out from your old high school group.
If you go to a state school, then you’re bound to run into people you went to high school with. And if you were friends before, then that’s great, because you already have some familiar faces to turn to and to make things more comfortable as you start your college experience. But some friendships from high school are based more on convenience than compatibility, and if you’re afraid to step away from that, you may miss out on stronger, potentially longer-lasting friendships with people you haven’t known your entire life. Don’t throw out anyone who is important to you, but don’t be afraid to branch out and meet people from other zip codes.

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4. Become involved!
Your college experience is only as good as you make it. That being said, if all you do for fun is party, then you won’t get much out of your four years other than a few good stories and some pictures on Facebook. In no way am I trying to bash partying — if it’s something you enjoy, then by all means do it in moderation. In the meantime, find clubs, intramural sports teams, and other groups to join. Not only will it make you feel more connected to your school, but it will allow you to meet people with similar interests, opinions, or beliefs. It’s much easier to connect with someone if you already know something that you both have in common!

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5. Ask others about themselves.
According to Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People and various other great books, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” And how true is that? To a point, everyone likes talking about themselves, and if you take a genuine interest in their lives, they’ll be more likely to take a genuine interest in yours.

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6. Open up your worldview.
Up until now, you’ve probably lived in a very small world. Before college, I was extremely sheltered and therefore was never exposed to certain kinds of lifestyles and beliefs. At school, however, I got to see a little bit of everything, and am definitely happy to have learned from the experience. When you get to college, just know that you’re going to meet people completely different from anyone you have ever known, and that you may or may not agree with those people. Part of what I love about having such a vast array of friends is that no one is a carbon copy of anyone else, and I can learn something from everyone. Even if you don’t decide to become friends with those people (and that’s fine!), you should at least treat others with respect, and recognize the beauty in our differences. You don’t want to be known as the close-minded one… such a label brings with it extremely negative images that you want to avoid!

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7. Speak up.
Even if you have found people to hang out with, you still want to form your own identity among the group. Don’t try to dominate all the conversations, because no one likes that, but do chime in with your own opinions and ideas. By showing your personality early on, you show people exactly what you have to offer as a friend!

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8. Leave your high school baggage behind.
There might never be a more perfect opportunity for a clean slate than the beginning of college. If you did things you weren’t proud of in high school, now is the time to learn from those mistakes and change up your act. That being said, you don’t need to share every last dramatic moment of your high school years when you’re trying to meet new people. Save the heavier memories for a later date; you don’t want people to meet you and already think you’re too dramatic for their tastes. After all, who really wants someone else’s drama added to their own life?

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9. Talk to your classmates.
Think about it: you already have something in common… you’re taking the same class! While at first this might sound like a friendship of convenience, you’ll find that it can actually become much more. There’s a reason you both took that class with that particular professor at that particular time, and your reasons may be surprisingly similar. Through a quick ice breaker in one of my smaller classes in the fall semester of my freshman year, I became friends with two very cool people I still hang out with today! Don’t be afraid to turn to the person next to you and ask them what they thought of the test, or shoot them an empathetic smile when the professor announces a tedious assignment.

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10. Put your best face forward.
No, you don’t need to wear a prom dress or tuxedo to class, but in general you should make sure you put some time into your appearance each day — it shows that you care about yourself. No Hollywood makeovers are required, but in general you should make sure you’re well-groomed and put-together. I won’t go into how much effort you should put in, because that’s entirely based on personal preference and some people are higher maintenance than others, but don’t let yourself go just because you don’t have a dress code. Looks aren’t everything, and anyone who chooses friends specifically based on outfits is probably too superficial to deal with, but it never hurts to take some pride in your appearance.
After all, if you don’t look like you care about yourself, then how do you expect others to?

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11. Don’t come on too strong.
There is a fine line between showing genuine interest in someone and acting completely desperate, and I’ve certainly seen people cross it. In fact, I’ve been on the receiving end of it, and it’s a little overwhelming and borderline creepy when someone you’ve just met won’t leave you alone. Even if you feel like you’ve really clicked with someone, you should give the friendship time to develop before you consider yourselves inseparable. The same thing goes for relationships — boys, don’t put the moves on a girl when classes have only been in session for two days and you’re not even sure she’s interested. Too much too soon can lead to disappointment and regret.

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12. Be kind and respectful to everyone, no matter what.
You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar (although I’m not so sure why you’d want flies in the first place), and even if you don’t see yourself ever becoming friends with someone, you should still follow the golden rule and treat them with respect. It doesn’t matter if you have friends already or not — being rude or unfriendly to others is generally not a trait you want to find in a friend. In general, a lot of people are trying to get away from their high school experiences, so why would they want to come across the next Regina George?

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13. Recognize the fine line between Confidence and Cockiness.
If you want to make friends, then first and foremost you must see yourself in a positive light. Remind yourself of all those things about you that make you wonderful — your sense of humor, your listening skills, whatever abilities you have — and accept your flaws and the things you cannot change. This will certainly help you to gain confidence, which everyone wants to see in a friend. However, many people confuse confidence and cockiness, which is generally an undesirable trait! Know that you can love yourself without bragging about every accomplishment you’ve ever had, but that at the same time, you can still learn to accept a compliment gracefully without downplaying yourself.

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14. Be yourself.
Okay, so this may be the most cliche trick in the book, but that’s because it works. If you aren’t “doing you,” then chances are you won’t be attracting the people you’d work best with. Act like something you’re not, and people will be befriending someone you’re not. Don’t lose sight of who you are just to make a few friends. Eventually you will find someone who appreciates you for you.

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15. Don’t fret if you don’t connect with people right away.
Be persistent and proactive, because chances are, the first person you meet won’t automatically become your best friend. These things take time, and while college can really speed up the bonding process, you still have time to get to know people. The most important thing is to get out there and try your best. There is a friend out there for everyone, so don’t give up!

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For those of you who had no trouble at all making friends, what are your suggestions to new freshmen? 🙂