The Art of Being an Introvert

School has just started for me, and with the beginning of this new semester comes familiar challenges, ones that provide unique trials to the design of my personality.


I mostly identify as an introvert. Any hesitation I have with the term is inspired by the unimpressive reactions my declaration of this elicits. Either people do not know what the term means, and thus cannot offer any understanding to my reclusive tendencies, or the loudest people claim the label only to come of as transcendental and “low-key.” I find myself especially amused at the latter, as the most pressing questions that occupy my mind focus themselves on how I am to navigate the collegiate space whilst still feeling valid in the natural construction of my personality. More survivalist than transcendental I’d argue. 


It has been necessary of introverts to adapt, as the world we live in tends to more easily accommodate the people oriented. What I offer here will not dictate this truth. I only wish to highlight aspects of my educational career that I feel easily misrepresent my dedication to my studies. 


I will focus on one seeming inconsequential aspect of the classroom to better illustrate my point: the participation grade. The premise for its implementation in many classroom settings is fair enough. There are those students that attempt to cruise a course they don’t care for, and it certainly operates as an incentive to keep classroom conversation flowing. However, what of those that do not feel motivated to speak every day, or comment on every new subject? What of those students who consistently complete their work, but may allow their peers to have the pleasure of dominating the conversation? Grading engagement is not a cut and dry endeavor, and it sometimes comes across to individuals like me that our performance as conversational beings is more valued than our composition as thoughtful ones. 


I have to insist: I am alert. I am participating. I am happy to be here, in college, learning things I may never regularly engage outside of this unique experience. Yet what frustrates me is that there is little means of assessing how hard my brain is really working. I am just left to make do with anxiety inducing situations. Figure it out or suffer the consequences is how it feels. Not to mention, as an English major, my greatest opportunity to shine out in my classes is through my papers. I revel in presenting beautiful work, but, unfortunately, that is not quite enough.


Beyond my frustrations there is the lighter realization that participation assessments force me to get comfortable with my own voice, something that I have battled with for some time. Although it should be noted that just because one is introverted, it does not correlate that they are not assured in what they want to say when they choose to say it. I would also say that such assessments encourage me to be extra familiar with the course material, as I will more than likely prepare a series of comments before going to class to adapt myself to what the course requires of me. 

It is acts like those that encapsulate one’s living as an introvert. Constantly preparing oneself ahead of time so as not to disrupt the flow of culturally mainstream expectations that assume everyone always has something to say.

What I have found here in college is not unique to the institution itself. This challenge has followed me my entire life, and while I do not expect any sudden changes, or even thoughtfulness, to certain assessment methods, I do hope for them.  


With that said, I think I’ve “talked” enough for today. Time to go recharge. Alone. In silence.