Remember the crazy movies you saw when you were still in high school—the chaotic frat parties, the frenzied hookups, and the crammed schedules? And suddenly when you got to college, those things just didn’t feel like they were all cracked up to be? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Propelled by mainstream media’s narrow dialogue of what an “ideal” college experience is meant to be, most students (including me) try to live up to the scenarios in their mind created by societal dictations of what’s “right” and trendy for young adults. But the truth is, forcing yourself to conform and maintain an image of yourself for others will only drain you at the end of the day and rob you of the true college experience you deserve. The key to living out your university dreams while also trying to stay true to yourself is balance. Understand what kind of person you are and what skills you want to develop while you’re still in college.
- Find your people
Unless you’re lucky enough to live five minutes away from campus, most teens have to leave behind everything and everyone they know for a new, unfamiliar place. This can be extremely overwhelming, so it’s important to invest time in building a local support system. In other words: friends! In college, friends are your family. They’re the ones you turn to first for advice, help, and fun. Finding your sense of community on campus can be central to your time at college. Knowing that you have well-wishers whom you can always come back to will embolden you to step out of your comfort zone and take risks, which is what college is all about. If you don’t know where to start in your search of like-minded people, look no further than clubs.
- Join clubs
If it isn’t obvious already, clubs are the place to be if you’re trying to find people with similar interests. Whether you enjoy writing fanfiction, tap dancing, or even beekeeping, there’s a community on campus ready to welcome you with open arms. Clubs are a much more low-key way of socializing compared to frat parties or dances, and for some people, that quiet, one-on-one setting is perfect for building friendships that last through college and beyond.
- Take time for self-care
If you’re an introvert, you know that interacting with new people for days on end, which is something that college demands on a regular basis, can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. While it’s important to build relationships with your classmates and your professors, it’s also vital to take time out of your packed day to recharge (this is a must for everyone in general– introverts just need to do it more often than extroverts!). Taking a relaxing bubble bath, finding an isolated spot on campus to read, or meditating in a dark room are all ways of resting yourself without interruption and prepping yourself for the next day without burning through your socializing meter.
- Don’t stray from your path
This one’s extremely important: college is crazy! It’s so easy to forget why you’re here in the first place and get swept away by the crowd. The truth is, even though your friend from Psych 101 cut through your sleep time to drag you out at 2 AM for an early morning snack run, she’d taken a nap the day before and doesn’t have any classes the next day. What I’m trying to say is, everyone’s taking care of themselves! Remember to check in and ask yourself if you’re straying too far from your path. The good news is, as introverts we introspect quite often and so this won’t be too hard to do!
Take some time off and look back on the values that you were raised with and passions that you wish to retain whilst your time at college. Take a piece of paper and write down the skills you want to develop and the goals you want to attain during these four years. It’s easy to get lost in the flurry of classes, clubs, and friends, but doing this will anchor you down to reality and give you a sense of purpose. Although some days may feel like a century’s worth of time sewn together, these four years will fly by– and before you know it, you’ll be thrust into the real world. At the end of the day, it’s always better to remember why you’re here and where you’re from to add a little context to your character!
- Own your introversion
Who said introverts are boring? Just ask Emma Watson, J.K Rowling, and Lady Gaga, who identify as introverts– we tick the box for everything! Career-driven? Check. Passionate? Check. And confident? Double-check! In a world that seems to tilt in the favor of extroverts, it’s easy to feel discouraged by how fast-paced and energized some of peers are.