Do noisy parties and large group outings fill you with dread? Do you often find yourself craving time alone, whether it’s snuggling in bed with your favourite book or watching a movie from the comfort of home? Do you hesitate to speak up in public settings? Does excessive socialising leave you feeling drained?
You might just be an introvert!
For the uninitiated, an introvert is a person who prefers spending time alone, or in less stimulating environments. Too much social stimulation (e.g. loud parties and crowds) can leave an introvert feeling drained; solitude helps them recharge. Conversely, extroverts prefer spending time with people and feel energised by spending time with others. According to Psychology Today, an estimated 16 to 50 percent of the population are introverts.
Being an introvert at university can seem daunting, what with the stress of adapting to your new environment and having to make new friends. But introverted students can thrive, even if it seems your temperament is more of a bane than a boon.
Without further ado, here are some tips on surviving university as an introvert:
1. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone
Many of us are creatures of habit. Be it in the food we eat to the people we mingle with, we prefer familiarity and routine over novelty and variety. Stepping foot into university means getting used to a new environment, new classmates and professors – which can be stressful for introverts.
However, taking baby steps out of your comfort zone will go a long way towards making your life at university more enjoyable. This includes embracing the art of small talk to help you make friends, learning to say ‘Hi!’ to your classmates when you’d rather slip into class with your head down, and contributing to class discussions when you typically would not.
You’ll find that what you once found a challenge soon gets easier with time.
2. Join a club or society
Joining a club or society is one of the quickest ways to meet new people and ease into your new environment.
So whether it’s a sports club or the debate team, these co-curricular activities will help you meet like-minded folk who share the same interests as you.
You could also use this time to try something new and pick up a brand-new skill.
3. Befriend an extrovert
While introverts and extroverts may have different interpretations of ‘fun’ (i.e. having a Netflix marathon in your bedroom vs going to a raucous party), introverts will always benefit from having extrovert friends.
For starters, extroverts, who may thrive in social settings, can help broaden your horizons. You can tap into their social circle and meet new people, or they can give you the push you need to branch out and try something new. This could be anything from going to a party you dreaded (and, surprisingly, find that it wasn’t as bad as you thought), to trying new places to eat.
If socialising doesn’t come naturally to you, you could also learn social cues from your extroverted pals; from getting ideas on small talk topics to learning how to be more outgoing.
4. Embrace your unique self
At times, it can feel difficult to live in a world that seems to favour extroverted individuals – especially in an intense university environment. A long day of classes, group discussions and co-curricular activities can leave an introvert feeling drained, often leading to bedroom hibernation.
While university is an apt time to be proactive and to try new things, it’s also important to know your limits. So while you might want to start saying ‘yes’ to more social outings to get yourself out of your shell, remember that it’s also OK to say ‘no’ if you need to recharge.
Pretending to be an extrovert can be physically and mentally exhausting, so stay true to who you are. Let your friendships bloom naturally – after all, introverts have their unique strengths, and the world needs a balance between introverts and extroverts.