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True Life: I Was an Introverted Freshman

It’s true collegiettes—I spent most of my nights hanging out in the dorms, not partying on Dartmouth Street. I’m not antisocial, and I’m not a workaholic. But I don’t have as much fun seeing my friends in large packs as when I see them individually or in small groups.

If you’re like me, you might be an introvert. Don’t worry, introversion isn’t a disease. All it means is that you socialize in a more focused way. And while introversion definitely isn’t a handicap, it can make freshman year a little more difficult.

Before my freshman year, I was so nervous about making new friends and finding my place on campus. The advice I found online didn’t seem helpful, either. Over and over I read, “Go to all the events and parties on campus,” “keep your door open so people can come talk to you,” and worst of all, “as long as you’re outgoing, you’ll be fine!” Personally, all that sounded a little overwhelming.

Now that I’ve finished my freshman year, I’d like to pass on to you my advice for surviving it as an introvert. I know college seems pretty scary now, but I promise you will find your place, even if it takes you a little longer than your more gregarious fellow-frosh.

The most important piece of advice that I can give you is to avoid pressuring yourself to transform into the social butterfly that you’re not. While it’s important to be friendly and push yourself a little out of your comfort zone, don’t feel like it’s required of you to be social all the time. Holding yourself to such high standards will become exhausting.

By the end of my freshman year, I figured out that balance is key. I’m someone who both enjoys but also needs time to myself. So respect yourself: if you think you need some me-time, go ahead and take some, even if it’s a Friday or Saturday night. You’ll be relaxed and probably more willing to socialize later.

Many people are probably telling you to focus on making friends freshman year, but for you introverted freshman out there, I recommend focusing on becoming yourself. Friend-making isn’t going to be instantly gratifying. But the more comfortable you are as an individual, the more you’ll be able to enjoy your social life as it is at the moment (however that may be). Do some soul-searching, decorate your dorm room so it feels like home, and keep up with hobbies and activities that make you happy. You might find that for you, the best part of college is your new independence.

Try to find study buddies in your classes. Study buddies don’t have to become your best friends, you just need to be able to be productive with them but also have a good time. I had study buddies for almost all my classes, and I studied with them pretty regularly. I found that whenever there was a lull in my social life, our study sessions kind of filled the void.

The last important thing I want to tell you is that it’s tough being an introvert. Instead of having a large network of friends, we have a handful of close friends. In college, especially at the beginning, people are very busy changing and discovering themselves. It’s not out of the ordinary to lose a friend or two in the shuffle. When you only have a few friends, this can leave you feeling lonely. If this happens to you, reach out to your family and friends back home to keep yourself from feeling isolated. Don’t panic—you will find your friends as time goes on. And if freshman year ends and you still haven’t found your inner circle, just know that there’s no expiration date on friendship. You have three more years to figure it out, and you’re absolutely not the only freshman on campus in this situation.

Remember that you’re not alone (even if you feel alone). There are many other collegiettes taking me-time in their rooms, just like you. It may take time to find them, but be patient and you will.

 

Rachel is a junior math major and premed student at Brandeis University. She is an EMT and recently joined her school's EMS squad. When she's not busy studying, she enjoys blogging, watching sitcoms, drawing zentangles, folding origami, and eating chocolate.
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