The Introvert's Guide to College
Zayz wants to remind us all that shy is just one more way to be. We think she's right, and we love this wise article. –Sparkitors
Within my first month of college, I discovered an unhappy truth: college is not a particularly introvert-friendly place. After consulting friends and family members on how to deal, I, Zayz (a.k.a., Mega-Introvert Extraordinaire), will now present my fellow introverts with four ways to navigate the extroverted streets of campus.
1. Do not believe everything Facebook implies. This was a big one for me. In the first few lonely days of college, trying to find myself in a sea of overeager strangers, I went on Facebook a lot to keep up with the lives of my high school friends, talk to them, and swap stories. It was not one of my best ideas. Facebook is full of inside jokes tagged with friends, hundreds of pictures of people doing goofy things in libraries, dorm rooms, restaurants and hang-outs around campus, and basically bunches of "proof" that everybody else is happy and peppy and busy and social.
I felt pretty defective for a while, thinking that everyone but me was out having the time of their lives. But after talking to some of those happy-status-and-picture friends, I find that it’s not really all it’s cracked up to be. People are obsessed with documenting their social times for the very reason that they want to prove they're having a blast to their Facebook friends. But that doesn’t mean sad, frustrating, lonely days don’t happen alongside all the goofy ones people post about. You’re not the only one sitting around listening to depressing music and feeling lost—but it’s easy to think so if Facebook is your only criteria.
2. Don’t knock yourself out yourself trying to join activities. Going to college means having to level-jump, in classes and in everything else. All of a sudden, you have more work, and more time to do it in. This means that many college students lose their minds going out all the time, trying to “live it up.” But for us introverts, that doesn’t come easily or naturally—and that’s okay! You don’t have to go out of your way to have something going on every night. Now, I’m not saying you should completely succumb to your inner Quiet Guy/Girl and spend all your time in your room. Fight your instincts to hide when it feels appropriate. But remember that homework is important, and so is solitude. Quiet nights are definitely okay. It’s all about balance.
3. Remember that things do get better, and as you get more comfortable on campus, you will naturally want to go out and do more. I hate it when people tell me this. My response is usually, well, that’s fine and dandy, but what about right now? What do I do right now? But this advice is very true. You have to give yourself time to adjust. A big part of being introverted, at least in my experience, is being uncomfortable in new surroundings. But people adjust at different rates and in different ways, and you have to allow things to happen organically. You will not find your soul mate and best friends in the first week of college—or even the first semester. But you will find your people eventually. You will put yourself out there. You will hear about events and then go to them. And it won't be as hard as it seems right now.
4. Keep in touch with family and friends, and tell them the truth about how you're doing. When things aren't going well, or as well as you would like them, your first instinct is to tell everyone you're doing just fine, because you don’t want to look like an epic fail. But that lie doesn’t help you. Reach out to people you trust and feel comfortable with, and tell them how you feel. Swap stories with them, get to know their experience and fill them in on yours. Having a friendly face and an open ear to unload on gives you the strength to keep blazing forward with your college adventure. Soon enough, the strangers around you will be as comfortable and friendly and safe as the people you loved in high school.
And remember: despite visits home and such technological wonders as Facebook and Skype, your real life is still happening on campus. Making that life a good one can be a daily battle for some, but I’m fighting it, and so can you.
How are you adjusting to college life?
Related post: The Pros and Cons of New Friends
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