Struggling as an introvert on campus

Introverts are shy, lonely people who hate big crowds. They like to spend their time alone, they don’t want to meet new people. They’re quiet and unopinionated. 

In light of Snow Week at Laurier Brantford, I’m writing this to dispel some common myths about introversion like those above. 

Being an introvert myself, I love to meet new people, talk about my opinions, and party. It is the effect those interactions have on me that makes me an introvert. After having a long conversation or spending the day with friends, I feel worn out.  

Unlike extroverts, introverts feel like they are running on empty after a lot of socializing. Extraverts feel energized by such interaction and they want to keep socializing rather than have some down time to recover from the stimulus. 

A common belief about introverts that bears true is that we are very much in our own heads and that we think more than we speak. Introverts are typically more sensitive and intuitive. It is for this reason that interaction tires us out. We are more than happy with internal stimuli. When it comes from external sources in high quantities, we almost can’t handle it. When we find we can’t handle it, our fix is to sit quietly for a little while or lay down to take a break. 

Even my decision to move into residence was influenced by my introversion. I had to consider how my mental health, grades and social life would be impacted by not living with my family. 

The first month of living here was exhausting because I was always meeting new people, going to get-to-know-you events and having to ask a lot of questions because I didn’t know my way around. 

Orientation week was the most draining part of this process. Obviously, our icebreakers and admission staff wanted to make us feel more comfortable in our new environment. But for an introvert, going to carnivals, live shows and cheer-offs is work. We don’t hate these types of events and we are often excited to attend. There is just something about too much activity that makes us feel sluggish and sometimes moody. 

On the other end of the spectrum, extroverts often feel those symptoms when they do not have that kind of stimulus surrounding them. Each personality type has its own paradise and its own hell, and they are complete opposites. 

Please bear in mind that I am no doctor. I don’t know what about the human brain makes introverts one way and extroverts another. But I do have a lot of experience as an introvert and I’ve gathered some helpful things to do when you feel drained. 

First of all, never let anyone make you feel bad or strange for not wanting to socialize all the time. Also, don’t limit yourself to Netflix and reading in your spare time just because introverts are put in that box. 

Try to lay out your day and even your week to make yourself more comfortable with your interactions. 

If it feels like a chore to do something like going out with friends, feel free to decline and give yourself some ‘me’ time. 

If you want more people to come to your events, remember that everyone is different and we all feed off different things. You may find your events having better turnouts if you stagger them throughout the day so people can attend one event, have free time, and then go to the next event. One right after the other is guaranteed to wear out the introverts you invited. Please don’t think I’m being self-serving. The extroverts can hang out with friends or talk to new people during those breaks if they choose so they are more fired up for the next activity. 

The last thing I want is to sound ungrateful or petty because of my experiences. I really enjoyed O-week and I appreciate how much time and effort went into planning all the activities to make us feel more at home. Sometimes though, I don’t feel valid in declining an invitation to do something when I need to rest. A lot of introverts face this issue; we often feel like the odd one out. 

To be fair, this is because we may seem rude because we choose not to socialize as often as other people. But trust me when I say we do not mean to come off this way and we really appreciate the invitation. 

Remember that there are more than just extroverts on campus, in your friend group, in your office and in the classroom. Everyone will benefit. 

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