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Mental Health

My Journey Through College as an Introvert

As a senior, I’ve done some reflecting on my time as an undergrad and all that I’ve learned in the short three years. I’ve grown so much mentally and emotionally, and I’m amazed at how much stronger I’ve become. College is a whirlwind of experiences. For most people, it’s the first ounce of freedom they’re given. You learn to become self-reliant and get a taste of what it really means to be an adult. There are an abundance of choices presented to you all at once about what to get involved in and how much effort you put into what you do. Your overall wellbeing is your responsibility and yours alone.

When I first arrived, I was made aware very quickly of the various personalities and characters that were present on campus and within my dorm. Although this was exciting, I was also anxious. Being thrown into a culture that relies heavily on social interactions and expelling so much energy trying to assimilate to a new environment initially took a toll on me. There never seemed to be a moment to get away and take a breather. After spending almost my entire life with the same people in school around me, the thought of having to make new friends again was a little worrisome, especially because I felt that my idea of a good time was very different from other people’s. The thought of going out every weekend and constantly mingling with others in order to form relationships seemed like such a burden. My approach to making friends was much different than the norm, and I knew I was going to have a much harder time than more extroverted people.

Having a space that’s comfortable and familiar to me to recharge and reflect is what I needed, and that was extremely difficult to find my first year. With the pressure to make friends quickly, assimilate in a new town without being able to turn directly to the people I’m most comfortable with, and love was hard. As an introvert, I found that I struggled more than I ever had in my life because I constantly felt exhausted without being able to recharge in solitude.

Courtesy: Rising Woman

Once I became more comfortable with my surroundings, it became easier for me to find small moments of peace to regain my balance. And once this happened, I was able to make friends. There were plenty of moments though where I still didn’t feel like myself. It was as if I was putting on a show for people because I was too worried that if I actually took the time I knew I needed for myself, no one would want to be my friend. I spread myself too thin and ended up burning out. Experiencing that sort of disassociation from myself was hard to cope with without my support system. It felt like I had lost a lot of who I was because I wasn’t taking the necessary measures to take care of myself.

As introverts, I feel like oftentimes in these situations we expend ourselves so much in order to please others– too afraid that we won’t find our people if we don’t jump into the social scene right away like everyone else. But, looking back as a senior now, I recognize that I should have done better at catering to my own needs rather than worrying about being at the same social standing as others. The true friends I’ve made here love me exactly as I am now and respect my boundaries. I know they’re true friends because they don’t make me feel bad about taking time for myself to recompose. They know that my solitude is where I am able to reflect, recharge and regain my balance. The truth is, the right friends will always come along when they’re meant to, and they will accept you for you. There’s no shame in wanting to hang back a little from the crowd.

As a senior, I’ve learned how to be graceful with myself in this environment that can sometimes become overwhelming. I’ve become better aware of my ticks and limits, so I know how to better take care of myself. The key is to remind yourself that the way you want to process the world and your internal thoughts is completely valid. Don’t give in to the pressure to be out and about all of the time. Experiencing this new chapter in a way that feels natural and enjoyable to you is what’s most important. You are your first priority, so make sure that you do what you need to do in order to keep that balance.

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Katarina is a senior at Florida State University studying Creative Writing with a double minor in Education and Communications. You can find her at your local library reading a good book or writing for her blog https://katarinamartinez13.wixsite.com/kmartinezreads As an aspiring novelist and content writer, she is always looking to spread love and joy everywhere she goes.
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