[republished from 2 years ago. still accurate]
College is a stressful enough change for anyone, but for an introvert, it is particularly harrowing. There are hundreds of new people to meet and interact with, not to mention nowhere quiet to hide. Social interaction becomes a necessary part of almost every moment of the day, an exhausting condition for people who thrive on some amount of solitude. It might be different for everyone, but for me, losing the haven of my quiet room was the hardest. After hours of dealing with people, I could only retreat to…a building with a few hundred more people. And 3 of them in “my” room. After having survived three years of college, here are my tips for introverts at college.
1. Pick one place of solitude. For me, it was my bed. I had heavy-duty curtains and I often made use of them to block out my roommates and the entire rest of the world. I am seriously in love with my bed at school.
2. Limit your social interaction. Regardless of anyone’s expectations or pressures, take the time and space you need. There’s no point in going out for the night if you will only be miserable and likely make everyone around you also miserable. I rarely went out at night – maybe once a week.
3. Control your obligations. I quickly learned that an easy way to compromise some social life with my academic load and limited patience for interaction was to control it myself. I ate almost (but not all) my meals with friends – it was short, enjoyable, and regular. I could walk away after an hour of talking and not be sick of people.
4. Keep a small, tight circle of friends. Particularly at the beginning of the year, there were often big groups of people all hanging out, getting to know each other. I tried that a few times, but soon realized it didn’t suit me at all. After that, I kept my social circle down. My close friends only numbered around 10 or so, and I seldom hung out with more than 4-5 at a time.
5. Choose your battles. There are so many opportunities at school. For me, it was quite difficult not to join this club, and that team, and jump into that project. But it is quite impossible to juggle everything. So, choose the things you really need to do, and drop the others. It may be difficult to lose something you enjoy, but your sanity and creativity are worth it.
Bonus tip: Don’t suppress your creativity. With the stress and busyness of college, it’s easy to lose your creative spark. Make time for that, even in little ways. It will go a long way to helping your health and mental well-being.
If you are an introvert, please share your tips! And have a great year. 🙂