A bustling cafeteria. Crowded rooms. Small talk.
If these situations sound like scenes from a horror film, you might be an introvert. Unfortunately, these are common occurrences in university life. Fear not! I, a fellow introvert, am here to tell you that university does not have to be a living nightmare. In fact, being at Ambrose has been the best experience of my life! Here are some of my tips for surviving – and thriving—as an introvert!
- Know Your Limits
The key to surviving as an introvert is balancing your ‘energy in’ and ‘energy out’. In university, you are constantly surrounded by people, especially if you live in residence, and there will always be things to do. But most introverts will not have enough energy in a day to do everything. You need to learn how much socializing you can do before emptying your energy supply. When you know that you’ll need energy for an evening get-together, make sure to ‘save up’ during the day by eating lunch alone, or skipping the group study session. It’s also important to recognize the warning signs when you’re running low on energy. For me, when I start feeling irritable and anxious, I know I need to get some ‘me time’.
- Don’t Try to Be Extroverted
One of my pet peeves is when people tell me I should be extroverted because life requires it. NO! WE do not need to change who God created us to be. Yes, life requires that you interact with other people, but that doesn’t mean you have to experience social interaction in the same way. It is normal for introverts to feel drained after being around people – that’s how we’re wired. You don’t need rewiring.
- Find Quiet Time
You need to save energy before you can spend energy, and that means spending time alone. Everyone is different in what will help them recharge. Whether you like to read, listen to music, watch Netflix, play video games, paint – whatever you do to recharge, do it! Schedule time for yourself if that helps. Again, everyone has a different ‘battery life’. Maybe you need a break every day, or maybe only once or twice a week. The main thing is to make sure you have enough time to yourself to recharge and perform at your best!
- Find Refreshing People
If there was a cheat code for surviving as an introvert, this is it! Every once in a while, an introvert will find someone in their life who doesn’t drain them like the rest of society. This means you can spend an entire day together, and not feel the exhaustion or frustration that socializing usually causes. These rare but amazing people will likely become your best friends because you can spend the most time with them. Usually fellow introverts will fit this category because they understand your need to be alone. But extroverts can be your best friend too! My best friend is very extroverted, but barely a day passes when we don’t hang out together. Sometimes I even choose to be with her instead of being by myself. Introverts need people too, so find some that you enjoy being around!
- It’s Ok to Be Social
Just because you identify as an introvert, doesn’t mean you are restricted to the stereotypical image of someone hiding in their room under a blanket. There will be moments when you feel ‘filled up’ and ready to socialize! Do it! Find some friends, have some fun, make memories, and then go back to your blanket and Netflix. Life is full of adventures, and introverts can experience them too!
The majority of the population is extroverted, and university life is a clear example. Introverts can not only survive, but thrive in post-secondary education, even when they live in residence! One thing to remember is that you never need to apologize for being introverted. It is perfectly ok to prefer being along, and to feel uncomfortable sometimes in social situations. If you are at a party or event, and aren’t enjoying yourself, then leave (if attendance isn’t mandatory). It’s ok to decline an invite if you’d rather read a book than go out for supper. Instead of treating it like a disability, embrace your introversion. It’s part of what makes you, you!