Struggles of a Freshman Introvert

            Introverts are people who recharge with alone time. Being one is not as socially frowned upon as it used to be, but I’ve recently undergone some struggles regarding my own social limits, accepting my introversion and needing to relax by myself. I know I’m probably not alone in this, and want to give others experiencing what I am now the knowledge that they aren’t alone.

            I am what most people would describe as an introvert. When I was young I was painfully shy, even hiding behind my mom before eventually learning to speak for myself. I never had many friends, and after some bullying experiences in late elementary and early middle school I became very insecure about my social life. My group was three people on a good day, and I never felt close to a group until I started high school and met two people who are my friends to this day. High school was a social paradise for me as I discovered new friends and found people who truly understood me and who I wanted to spend time and hang out with.

            Going from that to a whole new blank slate may seem nice to some, but for me the process seemed scary from the start. I hate the small talk phase of friendships that require you to make good impressions and keep up with people without really knowing if they like you or if they’re just humoring you until they find the next friend  who comes along.  This problem, while looming, was made even worse by my very small intimate program of 27 people, all of whom bonded almost instantly leaving me, a quiet and reserved person in public, feeling like I was in a social vacuum.

 

            To combat this I joined clubs and made a lot of friends on my floor – while my roommate and I aren’t close I have neighbors who I love hanging out with, I started a sports team that bonds over early morning practices and group chat jokes, and I joined Her Campus and met an amazing group of girls who I love every minute of my time with. But I was still left with this feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, especially when I saw the Snapchats of all those kids in my conservatory going out and having a good time together… without me.

            My inner conflict about this led me to spend more and more time out with people and stay up much later than I should have in the studio, trying desperately to make a good impression and scrape out a few friends in my program who would like me enough to hang out outside of class. The cycle only ended when I brunt myself out to the point to exhaustion and had to retreat into classwork and YouTube, feeling guilty but knowing deep down that I was overextending myself.

            After exploring what happened and spending some time with friends outside of my program, I’ve realized that a lot of my problem stems from my rejection of my introversion and my pressure on myself to feel accepted in a group of mainly extroverts. They spend all their time together to relax after classes, to eat meals together, to spend loud and boisterous hours in the studio joking and chatting and interacting. They see it as a way to unwind and relieve the stress of a rigorous college semester, but for me all that togetherness is just more work on my already taxed mind and body.

 

 

            While I still want to be friends with my classmates and become a close member of the group, I also have to stop forcing myself into a mold I can’t fit for long without overextending myself. Accepting my need to have time alone, my preference for smaller and quieter groups on social outings, and my friends outside of my classmates are all things I need to work on to help myself stay mentally healthy and socially fulfilled.

            To anyone struggling with accepting their own introversion, remember that it’s totally okay to need alone time or not be okay in large groups. Follow your own path and don’t push yourself to be something that may exhaust you or make you feel lonely. Remember to push yourself, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. No matter what you may feel others want you to be or how much you want to be like others, it’s important to love who you are, no matter how social you want or don’t want to be on a given day <3