Introversion Has Its Drawbacks

I don’t know how some of you do it.

I’ve met many people throughout life—in college especially—who are constantly on the move, always doing something, and always, it seems, with a general happiness radiating from them. Now, I’m not so naïve to mistake consistent positivity and permanent smiles for regular happiness—I could honestly write a standalone article on how smiling all the time does not equate happiness—but I do know people who radiate happiness (ranging from calm contentment to spastic excitement—depends on the person). And knowing what I know about defining happiness and realizing we typically don’t see every aspect of a person’s life (they may not be truly, consistently happy as much as they appear) I’m not in awe of the fact that these people seem so “happy”. I’m more in awe of the consistency. And the constant doing something. And having the constant energy to do it. With people. And then having energy leftover. That’s uh-mazing!

And some of these people I’m thinking of are (wait for it) introverts. What?! These are what I call social introverts. And they’re pretty extreme. They are, like, everything I, as a socially anxious individual, strive to be. I admire and applaud their abilities to stay so busy and social and energized.

But I’m more on the introverted side of the introvert spectrum—just not everyone knows it. And sometimes I think I forget this.

I just finished spending time with some family friends for a few hours. And you’d think I’d been away at an extravagant social event for the past few days. I feel so drained. And I don’t know how I feel about it. We’re talking about a few kids I used to spend all day with for a few weeks at a time. And back then I hadn’t learned about introverts and extroverts yet, but I don’t remember feeling as drained as I do now. And, at the time, these were little kids with an abundance of energy.

Now, several years later, after only a few hours with them I feel ready to spend four days in complete solitude. But I still have things to do. Roles to fulfill. But this introvert needs to introvert. And if you fall on the introvert side of the spectrum, you’ll maybe understand my dilemma. Find some solidarity in it, even.

IntrovertHangover_EDIT

I don’t mean to appear resentful of who I am or envious of others, really. About ninety-nine percent of the time I completely love my introversion. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find fault with this aspect of my personality, or find annoyance with that fault. And I just happened to be experiencing that to a larger extent the moment I began writing my post for this week. We all have our pros and cons. Today’s just more of a con day…

Have a pro day. For me.

Just do your best.

Being Social Has Its Perks

Those of you who’ve been following along for awhile know I haven’t been too keen on being social for the past several months. Due to some self-realization this past semester (my introversion and social anxiety and… lack to typical college student persona), I’ve been working to pay more attention to my needs and trying not to let others’ (namely, peers) opinions interfere. Not always the easiest when you have social anxiety… But then I’ve also been working on discerning my genuine introvert/anxiety needs from simple disinterest and laziness so that I can be a better friend, sister, daughter, worker, student, etc. Essentially, the me I want to be. And I think I’ve really been doing a bang up job this summer! You know, in an unbiased way, totally… And it’s moments like the other night that show me just how worth my extra effort is proving to be.

Every summer, my neighborhood hosts a free swim night at a local pool for all inhabitants of the residential area and their guests. Oh, so exciting, right? I mean the idea’s kinda nice, but I’ve never really been into swimming. To me, it’s a lot like hanging out, doing what you normally do–but you’re in water… Yeah. Despite not really being into swimming, I thought it could be fun-ish… if my family went. Or if I at least took my dear, younger brother along.

As I’ve mentioned, he’s cooped up at home quite a bit during the day in the summer, so he doesn’t get out much. Plus, I have my ploy to make the most of our time together while our schedules are more open. Er, mine, anyway… So I thought, hey, I can do all that and more by taking dear Macimus to swim night! When I told my idea, he agreed and even seemed pretty enthusiastic about it, so plans were set, all was good to go. Until the night of.

Do you ever make plans in advance, likely due to feeling really social, and then the day of The Plans arrives and… you just aren’t feeling it anymore? Yeah, well… I think you know where this is going.

Neither Max or I were feeling the free swim vibes. But even still. I stood by my initial plan. I still wanted to hang out with my brother. And an hour out of the house would be good for him… Even if he wasn’t initially pleased about it. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t make him go, even as he was backing out of the plan. But, ultimately he still complied to my original suggestion. And it turned out to be a really great decision.

I’m finding more often than not in these last few relatively-less-social months, that despite not feeling sociable, when I make the attempt to interact with others, I feel happier after the socialization. And my night of swimming with my brother was no exception.

What made it so great though was that while we were out, he opened up to me. Really opened up to me, about the things that have been weighing on his mind recently. Things that, when I normally try to approach, cause my brother to shut down, change the subject. Or just withdraw from the conversation altogether. I don’t know what changed the other night, but he just brought them up on his own. And elaborated on his thoughts when pressed. And it was just a really nice conversation–nice night!–with my brother. He even asked me for advice (not always common between a brother and sister with a significant age-gap…)!

So I thought I’d write about this night here to serve as a lesson to you, Friends, and a reminder to myself some of the best things in life can arise from circumstances that don’t seem so appealing in the moment (i.e. socializing). You’d think as many times as I’ve found great experiences within socializing, I’d be more willing to… be social But so far, extreme introversion has won out.

Here’s hoping you are more outgoing than I! 🙂

How Many Social Plans Do We Really Need?

You know what’s funny? And not funny in the literally-laugh-out-loud or weird way, but funny in a huh-sometimes-we-have-really-different-ideas-on-certain-things sort. But do you know what’s funny in a huh-sometimes-we-have-really-different-ideas-on-certain-things way? The number of friends/acquaintances I’ve spent time with in the past couple months who expect me to have more than one plan in a single night.

Let me set the scene: It’s early summer evening–early enough where the sun is looking hazy, like it might go down soon, but still emits rays of heat on full blast, like it’s mid-afternoon. A friend and I are hunkered down in a favorite local eatery, chatting around bites of food, because food, always. Or maybe we’re strolling around a neighborhood or the downtown enjoying the scenery or general ambiance while talking about everything and nothing. Then about an hour into our quality time together, my friend will inquire, “So, what else do you have going on tonight?”

That’s when I pause. My mind comes to a halt.

Bus_Fall

Only slightly dramatic…

WHAT?! Are you really asking me this? Does my introversion mean nothing? I mean, maybe they’re perfectly aware of my antisocial tendencies and simply have high hopes for my introvert self. But if that’s not the case. Then what about the time? Sure, we started hanging out in the early evening, but depending how early, it could be nearly or after 8 now. What in the world would I be doing after 8 on a school/work/week night? Oh yeah, after we get done here I’m just going to go over to my other friend’s house for a second dinner. Or go grocery shopping for this week’s supplies (actually, that’s not a bad idea–late night grocery shopping is significantly less people-y). In any regard, I’m really curious as to what my friend has in mind for a late work night plan. I can bet whatever unplanned thing I’d be doing after we part ways for the night would likely not match their ideal (think: reading a riveting novel, watching an old favorite movie with my brother, writing down my thoughts for the day, etc.).

Realizing the introversion and, perhaps, middle-aged person (for not making social plans after 8 pm) evident in my would-be response, I’m usually at a bit of a loss on what to say, despite being asked this more and more often. Aside from my inner-turmoil, I pause, taken off guard, and, hem and haw, amounting my plans of introvert relief to “not much”. And then my friend usually takes me out from under the microscope and steers the conversation to something else.

Perhaps it’s presumptuous of me to think whomever I’m hanging out with to know better than to ask this question. But I’d like to think if I consider us friends and we’re hanging out, that they’d know a few things about my social needs. I mean, I’m pretty vocal about them if you haven’t figured out already.

For one thing, I am an introvert, and a pretty extreme one at that despite my default jovial setting when placed in social situations with people I know/like. So when I do make plans, I am committed to those plans, and likely will have nothing else going on that night so as to recuperate afterwards. How many social plans do you really need in one night? Honestly. People can be great, but I can only take so much. I usually have to psyche myself up for one hang out session–do you really think I could really handle multiple engagements in one night? That I could maintain my Awesome Quinn persona for so long with so many different social situations? You do? Well, thanks for having so much faith in me. But no. No no. After we’re done here, I’m going to go home and recover from people by myself.

For another, my close friends–specifically my childhood best friend (Going on 15 years now! :D)–tend to hang out for longer periods of time. A few hours to an entire day (though not all the time) is pretty typical for us. If we have plans to hang out sometime in the afternoon, more than likely we won’t part ways until bedtime. Part of it’s just because we’re so fond of each other (I mean, being friends I’d hope so…), but I another part of it is we don’t get to see each other as often with school and work and other Grown Up Responsibilities. So when we spend time together, we make the most of it. But as I said/wrote, this is common of all my close friends. And my close friends (or at least those I consider close) are really my only friends. As in the only people with whom I spend copious amounts of time outside of my family. So, to me, hanging out for three or four or eight hours is totally normal (“normal”). It doesn’t occur to me anyone else’s reality could be different, until…

WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE GOING ON TONIGHT???

Sigh.

Until next time, Friends!

Why is Peopling So Difficult?

Also, why are so many of my posts titled with a question…usually beginning with “why”? I guess even as an English major, having concrete answers for the seemingly inexplicable provides solace… at least some of the time.

As human beings we crave social interaction (which I affectionately refer to as “peopling” when in verb form)–to some extent. The drive to be social brings us together, it evokes a commonality among humans. But that extent, the degree to which we crave and seek out social endeavors divides us. We have different preferences, different means, different limits to how we choose to fulfill our socialization need. And in recent weeks, I’ve begun to notice how easily my need is met by such minuscule human interaction.

I am an introvert. This is nothing new, and I fully accept and embrace this about myself. Introversion is awesome! And rather refreshing in such a social society. But my level of introversion seems to be rising more and more lately. I’ve been told I’m personable, easy to talk with, and generally appear as an outgoing individual. Here would be important to note that in these instances when I’m commended for my above-and-beyond social performance, I’ve only had to be social for a short while. Also important to note in these instances are the additional factors come in to play: a) I’m in a good mood and/or feeling socially at ease, b) the other person/people is/are intriguing/pleasant and we thus are able to connect, c) I enjoy the surrounding environment/situation eliciting the social interaction, and/or d) all of the above. But all of those factors, even combined, can only amount to Pleasant, Social Quinn for so long. Or apparently not so long.

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Jane Eyre understands. Select the image to learn more about the inner-workings of an introvert.

I’ve come to find through my college and work experiences my absolute maximum capacity for social pleasantry is about a day… if I have to be around people the entire time… and can still find a few minutes to escape for introversion solace. So technically not even a full day, really… Yikes.

Don’t get me wrong: there is an abyss of resources out there (i.e. the internet) advocating for introverts (their well-being, habits, problems in extroverted societies, coping mechanisms, self-love, etc.), and that is AWESOME! But those resources only get you so far especially when you’re going about your introverted existence. It’s one thing to read and talk about, but another to actually do (as is the case with pretty much anything). Especially when other people are involved. It’s like that society-wide instruction that encourages everyone to embrace their true selves. Yet when they comply, they get scorned for trying to be too much like their true selves, too individual and not enough like the “true self” society already has outlined for its occupants.

Society

Introverts have gained a massive following in the past decade as more and more people are coming to grips with this facet of identity. But that doesn’t mean everyone is entirely on board with the concept. I don’t mean they aren’t willing to accept, they just don’t appear to fully… understand what being an introvert entails. If they did, they wouldn’t continue to push introverts out of their comfort zone, asking them to spend so much time peopling even after trying to set the record straight on the concept of an introvert. Or maybe they still would. Pushing us introverts out of our comfort zone and all that.

While I’m perfectly content with my introversion, I work to embrace it, why push me to my limit? I suspect to expand my horizons, maybe even extend my limit. But asking me to repress my introversion for a little while longer kind of challenges my efforts to embrace it, like even my extroversion, as sporadic as it is, still isn’t enough. And I find this rather frustrating. Kind of like I find people frustrating sometimes. Thus, lash out via the written word to the internet…

…I don’t think I really conveyed anything coherent in this post other than my struggle with extensive socializing and apparent disdain for people (even though I’m interested in studying them???), but consider it an elaboration on the title question, “Why is Peopling So Difficult?” Maybe you have an answer or insight you’d like to share. In which case, by all means share–I (and fellow introverts alike) would love to hear.

I hope your week has just the right amount of peopling in it. Until next time… 🙂

I Don’t Make Sense…

If you’re even remotely familiar with my blog, this probably isn’t news to you. But I’m not talking about my way of thinking or writing style (though I’m sure those could be side effects of today’s topic). I’ll be focusing on just one of the many confusing components of my personality: my introversion.

In a former post when I introduced introversion, I gave a brief description of the concept. But if you don’t feel like poring over all my writing just to find this meager explanation or reading this in-depth exploration of introverted thinking, I will provide another brief description. In short, introverts are the types of individuals who need to spend time alone to gain energy. No matter how outgoing or shy they seem, all introverts require alone time to recharge; peopling–I mean, socializing–takes a lot of effort. Even when you enjoy it.

I recently came across a skydiving metaphor to explain introverts and socializing, which I thought was an effective comparison.

Consider skydiving. If you were to agree to go skydiving, you’d have to plan the experience (time, place, etc.), you’d have to be at least somewhat willing, and would likely have to become excited and channel your energy into following through with your plan beforehand. That’s what it’s like for an introvert to prepare for social outings–ideally. However, most social interactions (like in college) feel like the equivalent of being pushed out of the plane before feeling fully ready and willing to dive through the sky. Talk about a rude awakening…

I cannot confirm all introverts feel this way about socializing (especially the outgoing introverts), but exchanging social outings with skydiving seems like a pretty sufficient comparison to me. But here’s where I don’t make sense (at least in my mind).

I’m what I’d call a very introverted introvert. I need lot of alone time, days even, to recharge from socializing. In college that’s not really possible. I have classes, work, clubs, roommates (whom I love, but still…), so I’m surrounded by people. All. The. Time. And it’s exhausting. Honestly, I’m amazed I’ve survived through college thus far. Because I’m around others more than I’d like, I’m not always the most social–enough, I’m sure I emit a bit of a loner vibe to my fellow students. I spend a lot of time by myself even when around people. I don’t talk a lot. But when I do talk to others it’s like some kind of switch has flipped.

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Always the third option

I’ve been told by many I’m fun to talk with, laugh with, that I’m a very personable individual. (Granted, I work in communication and journalism fields so I kind of need to be if I want others to do what I ask so I can do my job efficiently–that doesn’t sound manipulative at all…) Yet, most don’t discover this about me, as more often than not, I’m in total introvert mode and thus don’t talk much–at least not simply for the sake of talking. Thus loner/quiet girl reputation which is perfectly fine with me!

Socializing is such a necessity in the U.S. We’re very social and it seems if you’re anything but, something is “wrong” with you. Not literally, of course, but American standards definitely cater to extroverted individuals (have I not referenced college enough in this post, yet?). The problem is passable socializing (what I call small talk) doesn’t benefit us much. Aside from portraying yourself as a pleasant, polite individual small talk does little in terms of advancing your social life. Strong friendships are not to be had from discussing only mundane subjects like the weather or your job–unless you’re able to delve into the gritty details of those, then maybe… In-depth conversations, however, can play a much more effective role. I want to hear about your thoughts on the origins of the world, your life experiences, your response to scenario x and reasons for such. Do you know how often people offer up that sort of information in initial conversations? Yeah, thought so…

But that’s okay! Because, honestly, learning so much about others increases the attachment I feel toward them which means creating and maintaining friendships, and, as an introvert, staying in touch with more than a handful of people is exhausting. Thus, few (but close!) friends. In college, because of the constant socialization, I tried to exceed my ideal friend limit, which ultimately failed because introversion. Just last week, a friend whom I haven’t seen in weeks asked to hang out for that very reason. And I turned them down. Without hesitation. Because I’m an introvert and make no sense and did not at that time feel tempted to actively maintain that friendship via in-person socialization. Yet, just a few weeks earlier I had been wishing more of my friends would reach out. See what I mean about not making sense? Introverts are complicated. And needy. But AWESOME. As are extroverts too, I’m sure. I just don’t know that lifestyle…

You know what else I don’t know? If this post made any sense to anyone, so just in case I’ve summed up the gist of my writing here (in list form!):

  1. Introverts are vary in type, but all need alone time to gain energy and to prepare for social interaction
  2. The U.S. caters to extroverts primarily which challenges introverts’ ability to thrive
  3. I’m a confusing person

And that’s really all you need to know. But if things are still unclear, well, at least confusion aligns well with this week’s theme. So there’s that.

Happy day, introverts/extroverts/everyone!

Where Do You Get Your Morals?

This is what I was asked the other night (more or less–though the question may have been worded differently), because apparently I have a pretty well-established moral compass, considering my current life circumstance (i.e. college). As providing improvised yet thoughtful answers to deep questions and, well, talking, are not my strong suits, I gave a pretty haphazard response about my personality and relating that to inner-motivation and people-pleasing–major ISFJ traits. None of what I said was inaccurate, but I wasn’t really satisfied with my answer. So I’m going to attempt to work out a more elaborate response here.

In all honesty, I’ve never explicitly thought about the origins of my morals. In that respect, I don’t think; just act. I don’t recommend adhering to that life advice in any other situation, but when it comes to following my moral compass, that mindset seems to work for me.

I’m going to reference back to my Myers-Briggs personality to try and exemplify what I’m saying. ISFJs are easily motivated people; we function with a work-first-and-play-later mindset and are motivated by the sense of accomplishment that arrives after completing a task (more on that here). That is simply how our minds are set up. So whenever a fellow student or parent or teacher compliments me on my work ethic, my immediate response is Why wouldn’t you strive to finish your work right away? I don’t make the extra effort to be productive or finish assigned tasks. I don’t think; just act.

In all honesty, I don’t know from where I’m drawing my morals. At this point, what I believe to be right and wrong has been so thoroughly established and followed in my mind, that attempting to stray from that isn’t a possibility to me, as though I was “made” to act a certain way.

With this being said, I don’t actually think everyone is born programmed to follow certain morals alone. But I do think everyone is born with traits that are likely to adhere to particular morals and that those morals can be shaped early in life. At the risk of entering the nature vs. nurture debate, I’d say both our environment and personality partake in forming our sense of right and wrong. As I believe the bulk of this shaping happens early on (though morals are subject to change throughout life), the environment involved in this process would have to be family (parents), some form of early education, and any other group constantly present in your young life.

So naturally, I’d have to conclude my morals were primarily formed as a result of parental and educational influence, which have in turn interacted with my personality and created the moralistic mindset I now follow. I can’t cite a specific lesson or life event that took place in my early years that solidified any of my morals–which frustrates me to no end, mind you; perks of practically non-existent memory–but the above is what I believe is likely what happens to us regarding morality formation.

Now I’m interested: Where do YOU think our morals originate from, dear reader? Family? School? Faith? Something else entirely? I’m curious to learn about other perspectives on this–hopefully yours is a lot simpler than mine…

Have a wonderful week! Keep on following your compass.

Snowed In: The Ice(ing) on the Introvert Cake

It’s winter.

This seems to be a fact not many are accustomed to considering we’ve been blessed with more weeks of shining sun and blossoming flowers and, well, warmth than is considerably normal. Until now.

Now that we’re in the midst of winter, the Midwest is finally getting its healthy dose of cold wind and slick ice and soon-to-be snow, hence the inspiration for today’s post.

Before I left work for the weekend, I was talking with my boss about the anticipated ice/snow storm that was to hit in the next couple of days. She commented how supermarkets were likely to be packed after work as everyone would be stocking up for the Icemageddon and how everywhere is general was likely to be busy that night while everyone got their weekend outings accomplished. What struck us both as funny is it seemed everyone was dreading the coming weekend, not for the dangerously slick roads or the amount of time to be spent scooping snow off driveways but for the lack of social life. The lack of freedom to go out and do things. We agreed staying in for a whole weekend was way more fun than going out–that is is, in fact, “the life.”

It’s amusing that everyone seems terrified of being forced to do something introverts like myself choose to do pretty much every weekend–snowed in or not. It’s like the former won’t know what to do with themselves if they aren’t able to leave their homes for a little while everyday. Trust me, there’s plenty of things to do at home. Relaxing things–painting, cooking, playing games, practicing an instrument, talking with family, Netflix-ing, writing, reading, the list goes on… And if none of those super awesome, enjoyable, relaxing activities don’t seem the least bit appealing, there’s always housework and work-work to be done, too. See? Something for everyone! Except the outdoorsy types…

I’m hoping this brush with introversion shows everyone just how relaxing staying in can be, how vital solitude is to our ability to function–everyone, not just introverts. Or maybe all this will prove to some is just how profusely they hate staying in. Either way, it’s bound to be a learning experience! 🙂

Note: This post was in no way intended to make fun of those fearing for the weather this weekend due to inability to stay safe on the roads, to do an outside job, to execute important, special plans–only those who were genuinely afraid to stay inside all weekend. I know, I’m mean. 🙂

Stay awesome, introverts (and non-introvert friends)!

When You Cross Introversion with Social Anxiety in College

How it looks:

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I am so cool, sitting alone like an intellectual, reading my smart book.

 

How it feels:

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I am so lame, sitting alone, when I could be sitting with people…

Can anyone relate? I apologize for the super depressing post. I blame my disdain for first days. If you can’t guess, today was the first day of the new semester, thus the college theme. Maybe some of you will find solidarity in this feeling? For those that do, how do YOU cope with introversion, anxiety, and/or both–in college or everyday life? I’d love to hear suggestions. Seriously, LOVE.

Take Care of Yourself

Hi All.

So.

I feel like I’ve got some ‘splaining to do, even though like five people follow my blog… and most likely less than that even read it (just being a realist! :)). But anyway. An earlier post of mine (see: This is Pretty Much How I Feel Right Now…) revealed just how much stress I have been under with school–so much that putting together blog posts felt near impossible. Then, when my classes finally seemed to slow down for five minutes, I didn’t have ideas for posts or when I did have ideas, I didn’t have the motivation to post. College has really brought out my lazy side… These all seem like pretty unsuitable explanations for my prolonged absence in the blogosphere, I’m sure, but I think it really boils down to being human. Humans have busy lives filled with work and classes and commitments and hobbies and aspirations, so much that sometimes they don’t have time for other things–no matter how important. Which brings me to my most human reason of all for disappearing.

May have mentioned a few times on here, but I am a busy person (at least while school is in session). And I like being busy, constantly flitting from one activity to the next. At least, in my head, I do. However, as I’ve also mentioned, I’m an introvert. Like waaaay far over on the spectrum, like socialize for half an hour and need two-plus days to recover far over (though every great once in awhile I can probably trick people into thinking I’m more outgoing as long as I only meet them once and never see them again. But I digress.). Busybody and introverted personalities can mix. For some. But as I’ve come to find this semester, not for me.

Through my experiences this semester, I’ve come to grips with the fact that I have anxiety, most likely of the social sort, though all of this is undiagnosed. I’ve experienced symptoms my whole life and have known about this mental illness long before it became more of a universal idea. But funny enough, I never really put it together until now. And let me just say, it sucks. I’m not ashamed about my anxiety (seriously, I bring it up all the time in conversations. Just call me Hi, I’m Social Anxiety Quinn!), but it is an incredibly exhausting lifelong experience–especially in a college setting. You can certainly read up on social anxiety here, but that’s actually not want I wanted to talk about. Not exactly.

I want to talk about what I do when I feel down about my anxiety and how these acts can maybe lift your spirits when your anxiety or depression or quarreling parents or demonic cat are preventing you from being you.

When I need to be an introvert, I’ll go to my room at home or my dorm–depending on where I am–and close the door and listen to my music. Something upbeat or something sad, or maybe a musical or maybe Disney. Whatever. But I choose music that I know I’ll focus on and really get into (e.g. awkwardly dance while lying on my bed, envision myself giving a live concert filled with supportive  friends and family watching in the audience, sing along with totally A-plus singing, etc.). I become so engrossed in the music, I tend to let go of whatever I was feeling prior to plugging in. Plus, ensuring I’m alone in my place of utmost comfort means I’ll be able to breakout singing or dancing without worrying about someone suffering through an unfortunate impromptu concert (and by that I mean without feeling self-conscious because someone with social anxiety, as far as I know, would NOT be singing or dancing in front of people willy-nilly unless they were completely confident in their abilities). Being alone makes me happy. And listening to music makes me happy. So why not mix the two to achieve the ultimate happiness formula?

If perchance my introverted solitude is exacerbating my sad, anxiety-induced feelings, then I’ll make sure I’m with other people, whether it’s my roommates or family or close friends. I don’t know what it is about super introverted people that seem to attract… less introverted people, but I tend to have lots of very chatty, exuberant individuals in my life. My family is probably the most tame of the above support systems, but no matter who I surround myself with, as long as it is someone I love and trust, I find myself able to relax and enjoy the company and maybe even move my mindset away from my anxiety for a moment.

No matter what I may do to remove my anxiety from my thoughts for awhile though, returning back to those thoughts is still important. As ironic as this feels to say as someone who is socially anxious, don’t shy away from who you are. Embrace it. If you can, come to grips with it. I applaud you. But don’t try to hide or repress whatever seems to be the issue. And it’s not even really an issue. My anxiety is not a problem to be fixed, and neither is yours or your parents’ fighting or your cat’s demeanor; they are merely part of the hand you have been dealt in life. So it’s important to take a look at those cards every now in then, and maybe even see the good in them. But if it takes some time to feel comfortable embracing your hand, don’t worry. It’ll always be there waiting.

Hopefully you found this helpful in some way. Or maybe your life is all hunky dory (such a great phrase, right?) and you don’t much need ideas on how to manage your nonexistent troubles right now. But either way, we all need to have our favorite people and past times to survive this game we call life. So, no matter where you are in life right now, I’ll leave you with this piece of advice brought to you be by Glee’s Rory.

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Fun fact: If you click on this message you will be transported to the wonderfulness that is Rory singing this very message in song! Enjoy 🙂

 

Also, I’ll try not to leave for as long next time. But no promises.

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. 🙂