The Secrets to Surviving University as an Introvert

Let me first clarify that I’m using the term introvert very loosely. There is a large spectrum of introverts and not all of them struggle with being social, it just means that they get their energy from being alone. Once they have spent some time by themselves, they are fully charged and ready to take on the world!

Socializing is absolutely terrifying to me. My heart will pound, my head gets dizzy and I always need to stop myself from spontaneously combusting at having to say “here” during attendance. Don’t even get me started on raising my hand in class for participation marks *shudders*. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that to meet new people and make friends, you kind of have to talk to them. Fortunately, if you’re also struggling and relating to this article on a spiritual level, the chances of someone else in your lecture room feeling the same way are quite high! There’s a reason why public speaking is one of the most common fears in America.

I’m still that socially-awkward introvert that would rather spend Friday night reading a contemporary novel than clubbing at Phils; but with time and nearly decades of practice, I’ve been able to overcome my natural instinct to run away from any situation that involves talking to other people, and I have the utmost faith that you can too.

1. Always set some time during the day to recharge

It's a no-brainer that most introverts need some time to recharge by being alone. If you know for a fact that overbooking yourself in a day will lead to burnout, then why are you doing it? Your mental state of being and the quality of your time spent is so much more important than attending an extra social. Spending an hour alone to watch a Netflix episode or listen to music can make a huge difference in your energy levels! For an important event, such as a job interview, make sure you give yourself the day to mentally prepare for it and to recover emotionally once you’re done. It might sound excessive, but trust me, the times where I’ve rearranged my schedule to dedicate an entire day to an interview are the times where I’ve landed the job.

2. Go Public

So you want to stay in and study instead of partying? That is totally okay! But instead of staying cooped up in your dorm room, why not try studying in the concourse or at a cute coffee shop? It doesn’t sound like it makes much of a difference, but you’d be surprised at how many people you could potentially meet just by simply existing in a public setting. I actually know people who became best friends by sitting at the same table in the library!

3. Take advantage of group projects

We all know that group projects absolutely suck. There seems to be some unspoken rule out there that ensures everyone ends up working with group members they cannot stand. Sometimes you might even wonder if having a final exam worth your entire grade would be the better option. But believe it or not, in another universe, there are group members that actually get along as friends! Group projects give you a chance to talk to new people without the stress of having to approach them without any reason after class, because you’re literally stuck with them. Seriously, you can’t exactly get a good grade unless you guys communicate and meet up. So you might as well take advantage of that and get to know your group members while you’re at it.

4. Try to sit with other people who are alone

I don't know about you, but I find it super intimidating to approach a group I don't know and introduce myself, especially when I'm alone. Which I guess makes sense. People in groups are probably more likely to talk to each other than to leave their circle and meet new people. And even if they are approachable, that's daunting as heck! That's too many people at once! Now imagine a person sitting alone and probably hoping someone will come sit with them. I bet that person would be a lot more receptive and open to talking to new people. And you might feel more comfortable getting to know someone one-on-one. So next time when you see someone sitting alone in one of your lectures, try taking a seat next to them! There's always the chance of getting friend-rejected, but at the same time there's always the chance of becoming best friends!

5. Challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone

If you're scared of talking to new people, I dare you to do something that scares you even more than talking. Now this probably sounds a bit counterintuitive but hear me out! If you can run an entire marathon, then five kilometers will feel like nothing to you, right? The same concept applies to talking! If you challenge yourself to do something crazy, like performing in front of a giant audience or joining the debate team, then talking to people will seem a lot easier. This piece of advice is probably the hardest one to follow through with but reaps the most important benefit of them all: self-growth.

6. Join clubs to meet like-minded people

It’s so tempting to want to go completely introvert-mode for the rest of the week after your classes are done. But why not try committing to just one club? There are a lot of low-commitment clubs that meet only once a week, so not only do you still get your quality alone-time, but you get a chance to meet people with similar interests to you! This increases your chances of finding people you'll click with, and when you feel like you belong your confidence will increase!

7. Accept the fact that you don't have to enjoy HOCO or St. Paddy's Day

Sometimes being an introvert can be frustrating, especially when there are so many social events happening in university (HOCO and St.Paddy’s anyone?). Part of you might feel like you should be out drinking in order to have a good time, yet you just can't seem to enjoy it. I want you to know that's completely normal and that you shouldn't feel ashamed of having different interests. Please note that there is a big difference between wanting to branch out of your comfort zone and forcing yourself to conform to an idea that you know will make you miserable. Just do you, and the people who like you for who you are will come into your life. When you're true to yourself, you're happier and more confident, and people will notice this!

If there’s only one thing you can take away from this article, take away this: Introverts are freaking gods and goddesses. Don’t ever let somebody else’s judgements make you feel like you’re worth less and just take things one step at a time.