All of these school club anime, mediocre and excellent alike, get one thing right: clubs are a great way to meet people. Thus, if I can give one piece advice to incoming college freshmen, it's this: join a club.
I never thought I'd say something like that. I never thought that I would join a club in college. I was sure that school, work, and required hall activities would be all my introverted self could handle. I'm the type who can go weeks without seeing another human being and be perfectly happy. I might enjoy social activities on occasion, but, as a general rule, I need to spend at least twice as much time by myself to recover from social events. When it's really bad, I can't even handle Twitter or Facebook.
Yet even introverts get lonely. When my roommates moved out before second semester, I decided that I'd be purposeful about socializing and making friends. I still didn't plan on joining a club, though. I did not want that kind of commitment. In fact, when a professor suggested that I join a club to meet people, I politely and firmly told him that there was no way I'd have the time and energy for such activities.
Not long after the start of spring semester, a classmate came up to me and said she was going to start a pro-life club. She needed some founding members and officers. I thought and prayed about it for a few days before agreeing to join. Before I knew it, I wasn't just part of a club. I was signing paperwork, agreeing to be the club's vice president! I was the right hand woman. When the president wasn't around, people looked to me for answers. This decision surprised me, my family, and probably some of my hallmates.
|Okay, so our club's not quite all hugs and sparkles like|
this scene from Chihayafuru 2. But we're friends, which
is more than we were a year ago.
I was surprised by what I could handle. I often acted more like the club secretary than a vice president (and I'm relieved to report that this semester, I am the secretary). Yet I still had a leadership position. I led our club meeting when the president was sick. I was committed to both the general club meetings and short planning sessions. And none of this caused an emotional breakdown. This might seem like small stuff from the outside. To me, it was an incredible step.
In anime, clubs are often used to make self-conscious or loner characters open up and loosen up. People who would never meet become friends. Bookworms and athletes, Type-A students and slackers, class clowns and the painfully shy: all are joined together by one shared interest or goal. I used to think that clubs were for extroverts. Now, I'd almost argue the opposite: clubs are just what introverts like me need to get our healthy dose of purposeful socialization.
So, freshmen, here's a tip: join a club. Participate in a sport, whether you're on the school team or playing intramurals. Help put on a play. Join a small group or Bible study. Find some sort of activity or organization that you'd like to be a part of, and be open to personal growth and new friendship. Dare to step outside your comfort zone. You just might find that it's not so uncomfortable out there after all.