September 15, 2018, by Anjni
Being An Introvert at University
So we’re halfway through September now and university is practically on our doorstep! For those of you that are just starting university and will be moving away from home for the first time it can be daunting – whether you’re introverted or not. But for those of you that are introverted and perhaps a little more reserved, the thought of socialising can be tough, especially since at university – particularly during fresher’s week – it seems as if it’s continuously expected of you. And so, instead of my regular “how tos” and ramble-y lists, I thought I’d make a different type of post and share my experiences about what it’s like being an introvert at university, during fresher’s and just throughout the year in general.
So before getting to uni, I had always been a little more shy and reserved, and I had always found talking to people and just socialising in general rather difficult (and sometimes even downright stressful!), not just because I wasn’t very good at it, but because it could also get a little draining sometimes. However I knew that coming into university I had to make the conscious effort – during fresher’s particularly – to branch out slowly and socialise, and I made sure that I spoke to a few people a day (even if it was just my flatmates) and held up proper, meaningful conversations, not just surface-level fluff. And I found that the more I put myself out there and made the effort to get to know everyone and make connections, the easier it became, or rather, the more used to I became. I became more open to saying yes to social interactions, but at the same time I’d also indulge in a bit of me-time and lock myself away to ensure I took the time to recuperate and recharge on my own if I felt I ever needed it because it’s all about taking baby steps. In this way I really fought to expand and step out of my comfort zone slowly, and whilst it was difficult (and very much still can be) I knew that it would benefit me in the long-run, and was something that I really challenged myself with these past two years, but particularly during the period of fresher’s; it was a sort of personal goal of mine if you like, to get out there and make the most of things.
However, that said, I am not trying to tell you to go and play the extrovert during the first week of university. Not at all. There is a difference between opening yourself up to new social situations slowly and forcing yourself into them, where the latter can leave you feeling downright uncomfortable and extremely exhausted by the end of it. So if you’re not up for something, don’t feel like you have to do it because you want people to think you’re approachable, fun and cool – there are other ways to bring out that side of your personality that doesn’t necessarily require you to be an exuberant socialite as such. Everybody is different and there is no shame in being introverted; needing time for yourself now and again doesn’t mean you hate somebody’s company or that you’re unfriendly or rude. It just means you want some time for yourself, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with being unapologetically confident in who you are or the way you feel about certain social situations because like I said, people are different. And coming to this realisation yourself can actually be the best way for others around you to understand that needing time away from them every so often isn’t personal.
But just because you are introverted, it needn’t mean you limit yourself from conversation, events or opportunity. In fact whether you’re introverted, extroverted or anywhere else on the spectrum it shouldn’t matter because universities provide an environment where everyone can grow and thrive regardless. From taking charge and leading societies to public speaking and national debates, university can encourage introverts to gauge abilities and discover things about themselves that they might not have even realised were possible. I for one can vouch for this one-hundred percent and even in the short space of two years I’ve found that I can do and achieve a lot more than I had ever expected of myself when I first came to university – regardless of me being introverted. So I say go for it; push yourself, pursue those opportunities, join societies and explore your interests, but at a pace where you feel comfortable. Like I said, everyone is different and you are not expected to switch personalities at the drop of a hat, or even at all; what’s more important is that you are defiantly confident in the way that you are, and realise that something like being an introvert needn’t limit your ability to take those opportunities and make the most of your time here at university.