Surviving College as an Introvert


Looking back on college I am constantly surprised that I survived in a sea of people! I knew college would be a stretch for me, but I don't think I knew quite how much of a stretch until I moved in and it all became a reality. The strange thing about my personality and college is that when I started I only knew I was a quiet and shy person, but I hadn't yet discovered what that really meant for me. I didn't yet know the expanse of what it meant to be an Introvert and that the word "Introvert" completely captured every emotion and feeling that went on in my head. 

Through being at college I not only learned so much about myself and what I was capable of, but I learned so much about my personality, specifically what it meant to be an Introvert (INFJ) in a heavily "peopled" place and how to survive in a sea of people. 

As an Introvert (if your are like me you can relate) we are people who thrive being alone, doing things by ourselves, dislike talking to people we don't know, and avoiding social events or large groups of people at all costs! So looking at a college campus from an Introverts perspective EVERYTHING basically goes against what we are feeling, thinking, and saying in our mind. Let's see, there are dinning halls with many students every day, you sit in class surrounded by 30-50 strangers, you are put in groups to work on projects with classmates you don't know, everyone around you is involved in clubs and organizations, the "thing to do" is go out on Thursday nights, football games are a common occurance for college students to be surrounded by fellow students yelling and cheering at the top of their lungs, tailgates are tradition, and on campus events draw crowds of students who are usually just there for the free food and Tshirts.......did I miss anything? College for an introvert is everything that makes us uncomfortable, anxious, stressed, and retreat into ourselves. 

So how does an Introvert survive? I think for me, the thing that helped me survive as an Introvert was discovering myself. I discovered who I was, learned about my personality, and came to realize that the way I was feeling was perfectly normal for 26%-50% of the population (and the 1% of us INFJ's). I learned that my need to be alone was normal and I accepted that as a part of myself. When I accepted who I was through my personality, it made me feel more at ease in a world that could be a bit overwhelming & crazy. Fore example, I remember taking a book with me to breakfast and lunch every day my first semester.....there isn't anything quite as nice as dissapearing into a book while surrounded by people, it gives you your own world to thrive in and I loved that. I even continued this book reading tradition into my other semesters and even started bringing a book with me to class and reading while I was waiting. 

Looking back at college, I am still dumbfounded at the things I did! Knowing so much about my personality now I always wonder if I were to go back, would I be as sucessful as I was? Sometime I think being so naive about my personality for so long helped me push myself beyond my comfort zone? Other times however, I think it was the recognizition of my personality that actually helped my push myself beyond my comfort zone to try new things (like become an RA). 

Whatever the case, I believe the one thing that helped me survive college as an Introvert was accepting who I was. Being in a world of people who were constantly doing things, constantly meeting new people, going places, and being involved with clubs an organizations, I learned to accept that I wasn't like everyone else. Sure, I eventually became an RA and got involved with my staff team as well as an on campus small group and Bible study, but beyond that I was just me. I didn't go and do all the "things" the "typical" college students did, but I was okay with that. 

I had discovered a few years before starting college that I was different than a lot of people my age, mainly because of how I dressed. However, as the years went by I discovered that wasn't my only difference from other college students. Not only were my views of relationships, fashion, modesty, language, actions, and hard work different, but my view's of "fun" were to.....it was confirmed (as I had already known) that I was VERY old fashioned! 

Call me a grandma, crazy cat lady, whatever you want, but for me those terms encompassed who I was and the way I spent my time outside of class (or in class)...LOL:) With that, I had one Best Friend in college who I met my first day (she was a blessing & God send) and she was also an Introvert so we did a lot of stuff together whenever we were not in class. Honestly I don't know what I would have done without her? I think we would both agree that we would have become hermits if we hadn't met, so it's a good thing we did. 

That's the second thing that helped me survive college as an Introvert, having someone that understood me. Not everyone understands Introverts, but fellow Introverts always understand (for the most part) and that helps you feel like you are not alone. Most days I was perfectly fine going back to my room after class to study, or staying in on Thursday nights with a movie and Icecream, or traveling home on the weekend, but when I was feeling like I should probably talk to another human, she was always the person I turned to. We had standing lunch dates during the week and always had a schedule we stuck to so we knew when we would see each other and when we both needed time alone....it was great! 

So here's my GRAND takeaway.........embrace who you are! You know the Dr. Seuss quote "why fit in when you were born to stand out!" that is 100% how you should approach college as an Introvert. If you spend your time trying to fit into the typical "college life" and "college routine" that everyone else falls into when they go to college you will find yourself lacking, feeling disconnected, loosing yourself, and probably having a severe case of anxiety or panic attacks, so don't do it to yourself! As an Introvert we view the world differently, and therefore college for us is a whole new world in itself, but it is a world we have the ability to thrive in and conquer. BE YOU! Embrace your quirks, habit, and nights in, because that is who you are! Find someone who understands you, you don't have to have a TON of friends, all you need is one and you will both be there for each other when you need it! 

While college was a HUGE STRETCH for me as a person and as a Introvert, I wouldn't change the experience because I learned so much about who I am. Because of my experiences in college, I know why I feel the way I do at parties with tons of people I don't know. I understand why staying at home in my room with my cats and a movie or a book is my favorite pastime. I can laugh and make fun of the fact that I only ever went to one football game in college and didn't live your typical college life. However, embracing me, embracing my introverted personality is one thing I am proud of and will forever make me a more confident person (as odd as that sounds).

Were you an Introvert in college?
What were your tips for surviving college as an Introvert?

-Madison 

6 comments

  1. Love this! You described college as an introvert to a T :)

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    1. YAY! Glad to know my obsercations are accurate:)
      -M

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  2. I'm an introvert too, but I used to be more of an extrovert in my teens, so I feel kind of awkward about it! lol I come from a loud family and I can't make myself be that outgoing, so it has definitely made me insecure in the past. However, getting older now, I'm accepting my personality more. It is good to push myself out of my comfort zone, but it's also okay that I'm not the life of the party and prefer a night in sometimes ;)I love that you write about your personality so openly!

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Elizabeth! I feel like I used to be a bit like that when I was growing up (my family is loud too) and I definitely dealt with those same insecurities. So glad to hear you like that I write about my personality, because those are some of my favorite and open posts:)
      -M

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