In college, it can sometimes feel like everyone around you is super social, constantly meeting new people, hanging out with friends or just getting out there. For introverts, this can be really scary. When you’re more comfortable with quiet, the idea of socializing can be extremely difficult and can make you feel uncomfortable or left out, especially in a new environment like college. While it may be easier for outgoing students to make friends and navigate the college social scene, introverts can still do the same thing — they just do so in a different way!
When it comes to personality types, introversion is often viewed negatively whereas extroversion is seen as a positive trait. This stigma usually results from a lack of true understanding of what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert. These traits live on two opposite sides of a spectrum and simply relate to the way you get and put out energy.
People who tend to fall on the more extroverted side of the spectrum draw their energy externally and from the outside world, including the people and things around them. People who tend to fall on the more introverted side of the spectrum draw their energy internally, from within rather than from outside in the world. People can also fall in the middle of the spectrum; this is referred to as ambiversion, and it means that you feel more introverted at times and extroverted at others.
Introverts tend to get a bad rap because they may be viewed as shy or socially awkward people when, in reality, they simply don’t derive the same enjoyment and comfort from being in certain social settings. This doesn’t mean that they lack the skills to do so, it just means that they don’t get their energy from those settings. Usually, social situations drain introverts of energy instead of restoring them.
Extroverts enjoy being part of social activities, and they often seem at their best when they’re surrounded by others. Introverts can reach this same level of enjoyment and fulfillment, but they find it through more solitary activities where they can take some time to be by themselves. While most introverts don’t fear or hate large social gatherings, they just don’t prefer them. Just like how extroverts tend not to want to be alone, introverts tend to want to spend time by themselves — and that’s completely acceptable!
College can be challenging for introverts because of the pressure to socialize and the negative stereotypes placed on people who don’t want to be around others all the time. The urge to be social, go out and meet new people can be overwhelming for anyone, but it is especially difficult for introverts who often feel nervous going into those new and unfamiliar situations.
Introverts engage in social activities in other ways; instead of large parties or big social events, they enjoy socializing in smaller groups. Examples include meeting a few friends for dinner, staying in and having people over to watch a movie or getting coffee with a friend. These smaller settings don’t drain introverts of their energy in the ways larger social activities would, and they can lead to meaningful and deep conversations, something that can be harder in large settings.
While it may seem like college is made for extroverts, that’s not true. College is whatever you make of it, and there are tons of ways that introverts can make their college experience a great one while still being true to their introverted selves.
One of the best things for introverts to do is to join clubs that they have an interest in. This is a great way to meet people who already share a common interest, which makes it easier to start a conversation and be more comfortable. Another important tip for introverts is to set boundaries. While it may be difficult to say “no” to other people, it’s so important that you make time for yourself to reset and recharge, or else you’ll eventually crash. Since it can be difficult for introverts to meet new people, one other tip is to try and engage with familiar faces. Whether it’s someone who sits near you in class or someone you pass by in your dorm or apartment hallway, make an effort to talk to them and strike up a friendship! You never know where it could lead.
It’s important to stay true to yourself and realize that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert. While there are definite benefits and drawbacks to being on both sides of the personality spectrum — extrovert and introvert wise — there’s no “right” way to be, especially in college. Embrace your introversion and think of it as a strength rather than a weakness.