Introverts vs. College Life

Hi Friends!

What’s this? I’m updating my poor, neglected blog?! Yes, I have been given a small amount of free time this weekend, and this is how I’ve chosen to  use it. You’re welcome. 🙂 Wow, I’m really full of myself right now. Sorry about that.

Right, so college and introversion…

So a relatively new phenomenon (and by new I mean a few years old) among introverts is the discovery that college is hard. Not ermahgersh-I-have-so-many-classes-and-I-don’t-know-how-I’ll-pass-them-all hard, but more like an ugh-all-people-all-the-time-I-think-I-might-murder-somebody sort of difficulty. This is where I back up and briefly explain the concept of an introvert, though as I’ve said, this is hardly a new term.

An introvert is an individual who requires time alone to gain their energy, to recharge. As far as I know, all introverts (sorry for the generalization) love their time alone. But the time spent with others–time spent using energy–is received differently across the board. Some introverts absolutely love people and love spending time around others, but simply need that alone time to catch their breath. Others, may appear to abhor the entire human race (not literally) and can only tolerate being around people for a short while. And there are many types of introverts in-between. I fall into one of the many in-between introverts, though more and more I feel I’m leaning toward the preference to be alone because ugh people.

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“…Because I’m an introvert and I’m ridiculous…” Gotta love Hyperbole and a Half

Note: I would like to point out, though I exemplified some introverts as hating people, this depiction is actually a stereotype society has about introverts, and highly untrue. The assumption was merely used to prove a point.

So how does college fit into this?

Well, for those of you have begun your journey through higher education, you already know where I am headed with this post. For those of you who have not, well, you are about to find out.

Each circumstance will depend on your college and very highly on your living situation, but in most cases, students live in a dorm (e.g. single room, small apartment, etc.) with other students. Awesome, right? Well…

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And here the extrovert will be playing the role of the Initial College Experience

 

It is one thing to go to class and maybe even a meeting or two with other people for a few hours, but to come home to a room or apartment that is shared with one or two or five other people whom you may or may not know very well (again, depending on your circumstances) is a whole new level of exhausting. You were just around people for eight hours (give or take) and you have to come home to MORE people?! No. Nononononono. Sigh…

Your first year in college certainly holds some of the biggest adjustments you’ll make during the higher education phase of your life. You have classes and meetings and living arrangements with other people, but do you know all that entails? Walking to class with other people, making awkward small talk before meetings (if you feel obligated to do so), eating with other people. Even brushing your teeth becomes a social event.

No me gustarlo.

Now, a lot of what I just said pertained to my experience my first year of college. I had never been made more aware of my introversion than in that first year. I tried being out there and being a joiner. Part of that is my personality (I like to help people :)) but having to do that all the time because I was always around people really got to me. I was exhausted on the inside, and after a few months of trying to always be “on” I ended up sort of shutting down, and becoming more reclusive. I needed major mass recharge time if I was going to attempt to be so social.

I wish I could say over two years later–with over two more years of experience–I have learned my lesson and have found a way to achieve balance. But I still struggle with wanting to be with others and wanting my alone time.

The real kicker is I don’t know how much of my drive to be so friendly to others and involved in my school is because I truly want to do so and how much is because I feel obligated to do so. I try to be as involved in the extracurriculars I’m apart of as much as I can. I make it a point to check in regularly with those closest to me, make sure they are doing okay. Yes, these behaviors come naturally to me. But making it a point to talk to a few people in each of my classes. Trying to schedule coffee dates with my campus friends every so often. These acts are a bit more difficult for me to complete. Are done only from the pressure I feel from others to fit the ideal college student persona (which, I know I am in no way even close to fulfilling).

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If it were up to me I would literally go to class, go to work, return to my apartment everyday hardly saying so much as two words to people. Okay, maybe not the last part, but I don’t think I would go out of my way quite so much to be social with others. But my ideal day in college is not the idealized college life. It’s not exciting. Not outgoing. Unfit by society’s standards.

Screw your standards, society.

But see, it is one thing to say this but another to feel comfortable actually acting upon this statement. I have been battling college for over two years and have still yet to find a concrete answer on how to survive as an introvert (hint: there isn’t one). But I can tell you a step in this direction begins with:

  1. Embracing your introversion
  2. Finding what works for you

Clearly, from my experience I’ve got some confidence issues to work out. Doing what I want and not feeling obligated to act a certain way. But for those of you who may be closer to an “I’m awesome!” type of mindset, listen to your inner voice. Consider your needs, your wants, and follow through. Go to that event. Go to coffee with your friends. Spend all weekend without talking to anybody. Spend your night watching Netflix. Whatever. Just do what you want because YOU want to, and do it with confidence and boldness. As long as it’s not drugs or murder… I don’t condone that, although “Criminal Minds” is awesome!

Then, figure out how you can be your best introvert self by bettering your situation. (I think I did my steps one and two backwards. I have an ideal situation and am now working on embracing my awesomeness, though I suppose these can be done simultaneously…) I have found a GREAT living situation and schedule that works for me. I have an apartment with one soon to be two people I adore with my own room so I can “escape” when need be. I am in class/meetings/work all day and at night, come home for good to unwind and be my great, introvert self. If you prefer having classes and meetings more spaced out with breaks in between, schedule them that way. If you just assume get all of your obligations done in one shot, build a schedule that suits that preference. Do you want to live on campus with a few roommates? Do that. Off campus with your bestie? At home with your family? Do that. Again, whichever works best for you, do that. I hope you’re better at making decisions than I, because to complete this step of college survival, you’re going to need to be…

College is an ongoing battle, but surviving through it doesn’t have to be (gosh, my marketing classes are starting to make their appearance). Embrace your introversion because you are awesome! And college is…

I apologize for the length, but don’t you feel so loved? I spent over 1,300 words on you guys… Again, you’re welcome. 🙂