An introvert in college – how to survive and even thrive!

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A lot of introverts are looking for help in dealing with being an introvert in college.  Why are introverted students the ones who have to be concerned or sometimes miserable?  After all, introversion is a normal personality preference; it’s not a disability or disease.  However, since we are the minority and many people do not recognize our traits as just as normal and valid as anyone else’s, we are faced with living in a world dominated by extroverts who have no idea what we’re really about.

So what’s making introverts unhappy in college right now?

Loneliness

If you feel lonely, try to figure out what is causing the bad feeling so you can know what you really need to do:

  • Are you actually homesick, missing your familiar friends, family, and places?   If so, that will pass as you get a new routine and some new friends, but sure, some new experiences will distract you very nicely.
  • Are you really content to spend a lot of time alone but just see everyone else going crazy with social stuff and think it’s “supposed” to be that way?  We see movies and read books and hear stories about people’s college experiences that make us think we must have football games, dances, dating, and loads of parties, or else we are missing our college experience – “the best years of your life.”  Sure, college years are wonderful ones, but not just for those shallow reasons.  It is a time to truly develop into the person you are, to find out what you like and dislike, and of course to get a great education to prepare you to work and live in the world.   Relax and explore at your own pace.   Of course don’t shut in your room all weekend – you need to be alone to recharge, not to hide.
  • Are you really lonely and longing for friends or a boyfriend/girlfriend?   Those things will come, but you should be in places where new friends can find you.   Try joining some casual activities that don’t require a lot of social “overhead.”   Do things where you can actually DO something instead of having to stand there making small talk.   If you’re an animal lover, go volunteer at the local shelter.  If you’d rather help build a robot, build a Habitat for Humanity, plant trees, or something else, find the group that’s doing that.  It’s so much easier to get to know others when you’re doing something instead of just trying to think of something to say.
  • Do you have friends but are worried that you don’t have enough friends, or that your friends are various individuals who aren’t all in one big group?  Once again, don’t compare yourself to anyone else.   If you enjoy your friends, can rely on them, and have great relationships with them, you are luckier than most people!  Introverts don’t have huge groups of people they lightly call “friends.”  We form deep friendships that can last for many, many years.   Enjoy those friends and sure, keep your eyes open for new ones as they appear, all through life.

People Problems

If you are miserable because of what the people around you are doing when you want to be quiet or alone, try to picture yourself confident and not angry (even if you feel angry and not confident) and what you’d say in the situation.

  • Hey, I have an 8:00 class, would you please use headphones after midnight?
  • Thanks for the invite, but I’m exhausted and need some “me” time.  I’ll catch you next time!
  • Would you go to your girlfriend’s instead of her coming here tonight?  I’m cramming for a test..

And I know that sometimes the situation is a whole lot worse than that.  Some extroverts might be partying all night.  Heck, some introverts might be partying all night!   Or they might have friends or boyfriend/girlfriend in the room constantly.  In this case, if the other person is nice at all, try to have a talk with them.  A calm, polite talk where you look pleasant and speak pleasantly, with respect for both your own and your roommate’s preferences.   Don’t call them names but don’t be self-deprecating and call yourself names either.

If you can’t work it out, seriously try to find someone else to room with and request that through your housing department.   By the end of a semester or so, you should really know some quiet people who may be in the same boat as you!  Nowadays you have forums, Facebook, all sorts of ways to “advertise” discreetly for someone who fits.  And of course remember no one is perfect.  There will be slobs, cell phone yappers, neat freaks, all kinds of people, and course they are getting accustomed to you too.

Remember, some colleges have private rooms available, so by all means get on the waiting list for one if you can afford it!

What else?

This post is only a beginning for us talking about the college experience for introverts, so if you’re having a problem or issue in college, or if you found a great way to deal with something, please leave a comment below.   I’m hoping readers can help each other with these situations a bit – maybe someone can shed new light on a problem.

Photo credit: peruisay

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