St Andrews is beautiful in that it is a small world full of people. It can also, however, be overwhelming in that it is a small world full of people who seem to know everyone, and these people seem to fill every minute of their spare time with meetings, parties, balls, and other social activities. I would classify myself as an introvert in that, while I love going out and spending time with my friends, I’m not the most open in a room of strangers, and often need some downtime to myself. And so, for an introvert, despite St Andrews being a literal fishing village, it’s easy to feel one’s social battery dying by the end of Week One.
The benefit of being in a fishing village is that there are spaces to wind down, either by yourself or with a flatmate or friend.
First and foremost, try and make the most of the open spaces we are so fortunate to have. We have three beaches, botanical gardens, a coastal path to walk along, and Lade Braes path. If you feel like you want to get out of the house but can’t quite face a crowd, I suggest sticking some headphones in and going for a walk with a podcast or some vibey music (definition of vibey is left up to you). A personal favourite activity of mine is to walk along the coastal path without looking behind me. When I turn back and see the picturesque, postcard-perfect landscape, I remember just how much I love it here.
Further along the lines of space, get out of the bubble! If you’re under 22, grab your National Entitlement Card and get on a bus. Whether it be Dundee or Dunfermline, some time away from the bubble will do wonders for the social battery.
My second tip is don’t feel guilty, or like you’re not living the best student life, when you stay in on a Thursday night instead of going to a fashion show launch party. It is totally OK for your vibe to be a low-key pub night with your closest friends rather than Sinners on a Wednesday. It’s also worth remembering that the photos you see on social media are not necessarily an indication of how fun the night actually was. You’re not missing out if you’ve recharged your batteries/spent time with your closest friends!
In terms of what you should do as an introvert, I suggest seeking out smaller societies and events to get involved in. EmpowHer, for example, while a larger society, has small group activities and makes special efforts to include newcomers and ensure that everyone is made to feel welcome. If you get quite socially anxious, it can be very reassuring to go to an event and be told the exact location and who to look for. Inklight, too, advertises their events with a note to send them an email if you feel anxious about attending an event. These societies might not be exactly your vibe, but the idea is to find societies and smaller campus communities which seem welcoming and inclusive and provide spaces for people who might be shy or anxious.
My last tip, not intended to be contradictory to my previous point, is to push yourself a little. This is, of course, individual-specific. However, if like me, you are an introvert at heart but try to push yourself out of your comfort zone, I encourage you to do so. What I’m trying to say is don’t let yourself get put into a box – ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ are largely labels we assign ourselves, and you don’t need to let this define you. When you feel able, it is worth going to an event you hadn’t considered before, whether with a friend or on your own. You never know who you might meet and, in the future, when your social battery is dead and you can only cope with a cosy movie night in with friends, these might be the people you call on.
I’m wishing you all the best for the year ahead – whether a fresher or a returning student, take care of yourself and enjoy the ride!