There’s no denying that time spent in college is probably the best craic most people will have in their entire lives. You get to live away from home for the first time, student discounts make everything really cheap, there is no obligation to actually do ANY work if you don’t want to, and you’re surrounded by like-minded people at all times of the day and night. What’s not to love?
Believe it or not, for a significant amount of people college can be a nightmare. People who suffer from social anxiety, shyness or just plain old awkwardness can have a cringeworthy few years full of feeling isolated, out of the loop and inadequate. Class and society dynamics get established relatively quickly, especially in smaller groups, and the introverts among them feel that if they’re too slow off the mark, they’ve lost their chance forever and are destined to have a lonely college life. You’re wrong, introverts! Read on to see why…
Introversion is NOT a weakness.
Have you ever been asked the almost accusatory question ‘so, why are you so quiet?’ or gotten less than enthusiastic reactions to your summary of your weekend, which did not happen to include partying to excess? The fact that you choose to act differently to the typical student does not make you any less of a person, and anyone who thinks so is quite frankly a bit of an ass. If it’s acceptable to ask you why you’re quiet, surely asking someone ‘why are you so intelligent?’ or ‘how come you’re not from Mars?’ makes just as much sense. We don’t know why we’re like this, we just are, is that some sort of problem? No. No it’s not.
You’re not alone.
It may seem that way, but that’s only because introverts don’t talk to each other or expose themselves as much as extroverts do (and yes, we mean that in every sense of the word). For every group of outgoing, bubbly personalities having fun together in the canteen there is an equal number of people sitting alone on campus, lost in a book or in their own thoughts. Trust us, you’re not the first person to feel this way and you sure as hell won’t be the last.
Use the opportunity.
So, what should you do about it? Well, if you’re happy the way things are, then nothing! Why should you? You’re not hurting yourself or anyone else by being the way you are. However, if feeling like you don’t belong or not having much social interaction is a problem for you, then there are plenty of things to do to change that. Things like joining a society or going along to a class night out are in no way as terrifying as you think they are. It’s just like taking off a band-aid; its all in your head! Stop thinking about how awful it could be and just go for it! The only person that’s seriously judging how you act or what you say is you.
Advice for the extroverts.
For a start, avoid asking us why we’re so quiet or practically forcing us into social situations we have no desire to be in because you think ‘it will be good for us’. There are plenty of other ways to make an introvert feel less introverted – IF that’s what they want. Wave and smile when they sit near you, make an effort to say hello, be interested (or at least feign it convincingly) in what they have to say. Extroverts are intimidating, unpredictable people for introverts, so be as non-judgemental and easy-going as possible – without being patronising or overly sympathetic for their plight, which will only make things even worse.
Now go out there and unleash your social butterfly! Or, you know, stay in and watch TV. That’s cool too.