Social anxiety at university? Four books to relieve our stress

By Kushal Karki on 13-02-2018

University can be an overwhelming experience for students. A wider and self-independent environment will provide different challenges, and it is possible that people who have experienced social anxiety could find it particularly difficult to socialise and be accepting of criticism. Thankfully there are many researchers and scholars who understand these apprehensions and have written great resources to manage these negative feelings. Here are four of my recommendations.

How to make friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie

Remember school, when you were forced by your teachers to get involved in those irritating group activities? Well, shockingly, university is nothing like that. There will be times where you will have to take personal responsibilities, and this will often involve talking to people; living with flatmates, joining societies, group work – and not to forget the career networking opportunities at campus. This can be very daunting to those who are not socially comfortable.

How to make friends and influence people is a classic, the lesson learnt from this book is to understand the value of charm and the give and take nature of relationships and communication. Having social intelligence can be incredibly beneficial as a university student, and for preparation for life after – and this book is a must-have for developing your social skills, as long as you put it into action.

Feel the fear and do it anyway - Susan Jeffers

At university, perhaps there’s that cute girl or guy you want to ask out, but that crippling fear of getting rejected can be debilitating, or maybe you have a presentation lined up in front of 100 people, but there’s that judgemental voice in your head keeping you nervous. We all have our different fears and anxieties and at times it can affect our studies or social lives.

Feel the fear and do it anyway is a resourceful book in helping you have a conversation with yourself in understanding the core nature of your fears, while respecting that we all have our different personal anxieties, in this case social phobia. Susan Jeffers teaches that not letting that voice in your head overwhelm you is crucial to you beating it, and this is only achievable by taking action and confronting your problems.  

Methods of persuasion - Nick Kolenda

For any guys and girls, the art of negotiating and persuasion are essential skills, but people who are socially anxious can be laid back when it comes to making decisions, often leading to placing their needs second, . This can be as simple as negotiating who’s paying for the pizza or getting your viewpoint across efficiently during student union elections.

While we are far away from learning Jedi mind tricks, Nick Kolenda highlights techniques from credible psychological research, which gives hints and tricks in understanding human behaviour in how and why they make decisions, effectively aiding the reader in feeling more comfortable with influencing people with their thoughts and beliefs. This book can help you with university and beyond, especially when dealing with those stoic-faced job interviewers.

Ego is the enemy - Ryan Holiday

Not to be confused by Freud’s term, the colloquial meaning of ego is the belief of one’s self-importance, it’s the same reason we try to protect our feelings against shame and criticism. University is a place of openness and free speech, there will be times where you will be faced with views that you might not like, and there will be times where you have to put yourself in positions where you might fear being judged or criticised; this includes banter amongst friends or critique from your professor. Whatever the case, it’s easy to protect yourself from being confronted and preserve your self-importance, but it’s definitely not ideal moving forward to where obstacles are inevitable.

Ego is the enemy provides a great insight emphasising the importance of self-reflection of your ego, this is taught through a series of anecdotes of individuals who have achieved incredible feats and their battle with their egos – most notable examples being Larry Page of Google and historical figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt. This book will in no doubt educate you to let go of your self-importance and allow yourself to be vulnerable, which will lead to mistakes and embarrassment, but will also be an excellent experience in building a thicker skin.   

Kushal Karki writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.


  • James:


    Thoughtful and empathetic style! Keep it up, Kush!

  • Jack:


    Good article brudaaaa! Nice ting man

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