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Surviving Your First Week: Tips from an Introvert

I’m exhausted.
My shoulders from the dead-weight bags, my feet from the cross-campus marching, and my head from the planning overload. My first week of university was the complete opposite of what I’d been told it would be. *Exciting,* they’d called it. It was nerve-wracking.
Everything is new to me: the gigantic campus, the buzz of people, the lecture halls that are ten times larger than any classroom I’ve ever been in, and the marathon of meetings and events. Most of all, the ocean of names and faces is something that is very new to me.
I steer clear of Main Mall at lunch time because there’s far too many people there. I lugged all my things around for two hours straight looking for a place where people weren’t cramming every corner. It took courage and a fight against my will to get myself to come to Imagine Day.
I’m not anti-social. I love people – I’m just introverted.
There are a lot of you introverts like me out there, and so far university life looks like it was made for the extroverts. What are the introverts to do?
I’m trying a few things, and who knows – they might work for you, too!
1. Step out of your comfort zone.
I can be both introverted and shy at times, which makes my comfort zone a whole lot smaller than most people’s, so I’m challenging myself to step out of it. Just a little every day. It can be a mentally exhausing process, but just one week has passed and I can feel it working! 
2. Arrive early to classes.
I don’t know about you, but for me, walking into a giant lecture hall full of people is jarring. To tackle this, I arrive early to classes to pick a seat where I am most comfortable. Personally, I go for a middle-front seat, where I don’t have to see just how many people there are in the room.
3. Make friends one at a time.
This one is very important for me. I can’t handle meeting a group of three or more people at once; I like to meet them one at a time so I don’t overwhelm myself. Simply turning to the person next to me during a lecture gives me the comfort I need. Trust me, the people add up quickly this way, and you don’t have to face the anxiety of meeting many new people at once!
4. Find another introvert!
There is nothing better than finding another person who can relate to how you feel; someone to hunt for quiet spots on campus with!
5. Join relatively small clubs that interest you.
Joining a club makes you feel comfortable, because you’re pursuing your interests and what you are confident with. It is even better if the club is relatively small, so you can get to know people through a common interest without feeling too overwhelmed! You might avoid clubs – like I almost did – but I find this is by far the best way to socialize. 
6. Saying no.
Can you do me a favor? “Sure!” Can you come with me? “Why not!” Are you coming to the party? “Uhh.. Yes?” Does this sound like you? I’ve always had trouble saying no, but I’m realizing how important alone time can be for me as an introvert! Learning to say “no” in order to give yourself time to recharge is crucial to long-term survival.
It is the second week now. It’s a little better than the first, with less of the excitement that the first week was full of. Stepping out of my comfort zone last week has definitely been worth it. I am already running into people I know from classes and clubs at places like the library or The Nest.
Of course, there are many more ways to tackle the challenges of first year, depending on your own skills and experiences. The main idea is to push your limits a little at a time, so that you make progress without becoming overwhelmed. I wish all you introverts (and everyone else!) a successful, satisfying year!

Photo credit here.

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