For a while I was in denial about being an introvert. I wanted to be that girl who was always outgoing and bubbly, and never just sat in her bed when there was so much more to be doing. Ignoring the fact that I was an introvert was making college life so much harder. I was making myself feel bad about wanting to stay in for a couple of hours, rather than just accepting that it was my personality type and allowing myself to recharge.
A lot of people have this preconceived idea that being an introvert means that you’re just shy. This is absolutely not true. If I’m around people who I am completely comfortable with, I can talk for hours. I love talking, and if you get me on a topic that I’m passionate about, don’t expect to get any input into the conversation. However when I’m in a new place with people I don’t really know, I’m painfully shy. It’s not that I’m afraid to talk, it’s that it’s actually exhausting for me.
Being an introvert means that you need alone time to recharge, instead of needing to be around others to recharge, which is an extrovert. So no, I’m not really shy, but I do need to be alone to regain my social energy. After being around people for a couple of hours, I need to retreat back into my private space to get my power back. This made college so arduous for me at first. You’re most likely going to have a roommate, so alone time is near impossible to get. They also say to make friends you need to constantly be around people, and for a while I thought this was true.
I used to be so hard on myself for needing time by myself. I was so jealous of my sister, who is an extreme extrovert. You put her in any situation, and she can talk to anyone for hours like she’s known them her entire life. She makes friends so quickly and she always seems so comfortable in social situations. I would hate on myself for not being able to do this, and it only made me even more drained. I was forcing myself to continually be around people, and even though I would be “social”, I didn’t have the energy to say too much.
I decided to try to accept that I was an introvert, and tell myself that it was okay to be alone sometimes. It’s okay that I’m not a social butterfly, and instead of coming down on myself, I started to embrace it.
When I first entered college I knew that I’d be around all new people, which is extremely difficult for me, and it takes me a while to feel comfortable around new people. I started out by setting small goals for myself until I got more comfortable with people. I would wake up and try to make at least one plan to hang out with someone that day. I wouldn’t make the plan for the full day, knowing that it would exhaust me, so I’d make a plan to get lunch, or something super easy like that.
It still felt wrong being a freshman in college, sitting alone in my bed. Everyone told me that I should be constantly trying to meet new people. News flash- this isn’t true! Know your limits and don’t over exert yourself. Once I was getting more comfortable with people, I would make more plans in the day, or do longer activities. The main thing you can’t do is be hard on yourself.
That being said, don’t be afraid to make plans. This is where I went a little out of my comfort zone. At first I was so scared of rejection- but then realized the worst they could do is say no! You have to reach out to people, don’t sit around waiting for people to come to you. Maybe make it a goal to go to the dining hall with someone once a day, or make a friend in each one of your classes.
Setting goals is important because it’s so easy to give up if things aren’t working out like you planned. Gradually increase how much you’ll do each day, and things will get better. Continually work up to bigger goals, telling yourself it’s okay that you need some alone time. You will have to go out of your comfort zone sometimes, but don’t stress about it! If you go out all day, rest up during the night-time. Watch some Netflix, write your thoughts down, and set a new goal for the next day.
As for the roommate situation, find our their schedule and plan your recharge times for when they wont be there. If they’re home a lot, go out by yourself! I love going to the mall or a cute coffee shop by myself to just relax.
Embrace the type of person you are, and don’t compare your progress to others. Some people make friends quicker, and that’s completely okay! You’ll get there eventually, so don’t stress out. Us introverts gotta stick together.