After only two weeks of being in college, I was burned out. With trying my best to make friends, get adjusted to my new life, and figure out college classes, I needed a change. I felt out of touch, exhausted and not myself.
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As an introvert since birth, I knew I had pushed myself beyond my limits and needed some me time. But how do I start to feel recharged now that I’m in college? Like any Gen Zer, I turned to the Internet and found: absolutely nothing.
I read article after article recommending introverts to branch out and make new friends, to not be shy and to try new things. I was shocked. Is this how the world sees introverts? This condescending image of a shy, awkward girl was all I could find during my search.
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To set the record straight: an introvert is someone who gets energy from being alone, while extroverts are people who get energy from being with others. It has nothing to do with personality. Introverts are not one stereotype- for me, I thrive on doing things alone, like getting dinner by myself and having time to reflect on the day. Another friend of mine’s introversion takes form by having a chill Netflix night with a friend or two.
According to Forbes, one-third to one-half of the population are introverts. Understanding introverts is important for everyone because introverts are your friends, loved ones, and co-workers. Being able to understand that introverts are people, just like anyone else, will help navigate the way people can relate to each other.
The college transition is hard, but it can be even worse for introverts with the constant pressure to go out and be social. Of course, there needs to be a healthy balance- being completely isolated isn’t healthy, just like on the other end of the spectrum, going out and partying every night isn’t healthy. Where some extroverted behaviors are seen as “normal” for college, there are condescending attitudes about introverts wanting to stay in or rest.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s important to stay attuned to your needs and the needs of your friends. Everyone is trying to figure it out, so give yourself and others the space to grow and get to know themselves, and be understanding and supportive of each other.
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For my overwhelmed introverts, you are not alone. Introverts don’t get the understanding or representation they deserve, so it’s especially important to be aware of what you need. Know your limits, know your interests and know what makes you happy. If you need a sign that you should stay in and watch Netflix tonight, this is it. Watch Netflix. Do what makes you happy.