An Introvert’s Tips for College

introverts[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. πŸ™‚

17 thoughts on “An Introvert’s Tips for College

  1. This is so very true. For the first tip, if there’s a library on campus that provides study carrels, those are a huge benefit. It’s just you and whatever you like to do in a tiny area that locks. Of course, this can all come crashing down if you happen to have somebody occupying the study carrel next to you who makes some *ahem* unpleasant noises that makes you want to shut your mind off and not think of what he could possibly be doing, but that aside, it’s a great help for those who want their own space.

    • Unfortunately, my library has no private study carrels. Thankfully, my roommates were out a lot, or else did not bother me. So I spent most nights in my room doing homework, which suited me just fine. The dress code on campus meant that staying in my room in PJ’s was a lot more attractive than dressing to walk across campus to the library! But really, you never realize how difficult it is to find a reliable quiet place until you are at college!

  2. This is excellent. Now that I’m about to finish up my final year, you have learned almost everything you much quicker than I did ha! Absolutely, being an introvert myself, it is important to make time for yourself. After my first semester, I was just so drained from having to be around people all the time. But learning to balance that will help. A lot.

    I can relate to that last bonus tip. When you just feel overwhelmed (whether it be from moving to a new environment or just being emotionally drained from being around people) I found it helpful to be able to retreat from everything and just do something that you want to do. Writing definitely has helped for me, just being able to pen everything on my mind (without too much repercussion ha!) has relieved a lot of stress for me in its own way.

    Whatever that activity may be (blogging, reading, art, sleeping hehe) it’s important to do something that will stimulate and recharge your mind. Being an introvert can be draining since you are trying to be genuinely invested to everyone you talk to. But making that time for yourself will truly help.

    Totally lost track of how long this comment got. But this is a good post! Good luck on that 2nd year. And enjoy every moment! It goes by faster than you would think…

    • It took me awhile to pick up on the creativity bit. My favorite release has always been reading….and, I didn’t have much time for reading at school. Some of my friends read in short spurts – a chapter at breakfast, or before bed – but I cannot do that. I will get too absorbed. But I had one class that was super boring and also unnecessary, so I eventually started writing stories during that class. It met once a week and I would just write something, anything. As imaginative as I could get, with little concern for quality. Just writing something! And that helped so, so much. I suffered massive creativity burnout, but that kind of thing helped a lot.

      I’m sure it will go quickly! I’m finishing in three years, so it will seem especially fast! It has been a terrific experience. More than a few tearful moments, some from introvert problems, but I made it through and I’ll come back ready for it this year. πŸ™‚

  3. Great tips! I definitely agree #5. I use to think less of myself because I knew people that seemed to be involved in EVERYTHING on campus and they were known by everybody because of it. I tried to juggle being involved with a lot of stuff but failed miserably my freshman year. I just couldn’t deal with that much socializing. It wasn’t until I started studying personalities that I realized that those people that I looked to try to be like were extroverts. They got their energy from being around so many people all the time being involved in everything like they were. No wonder I was tired trying to do anything as close to them! So I stuck to 2 organizations that I loved and left it at that. So I guess introverts should just find 1 or 2 things that they are passionate about and stick to that.

    • Realizing that you are an introvert is sometimes the hardest step. I’ve known that now for a couple years, but it is constantly becoming more and more evident. I learned very quickly that I have to take steps to protect my mental well-being, which may be entirely different from what everyone else is doing. When I choose my activities, I choose them for compatibility with my personality. For example, my primary job involves very little people interaction. Understanding my limitations made this last year a lot easier on me. πŸ™‚

      • Yes it is which is all the more reason why I started my site to get people to learn their personality a little faster! I don’t know how to explain it but once you understand yourself in that aspect, it seems like you can see so much clearly on what is best for you to do to be happy. By keeping it in mind, I think you make much more accurate decisions on what’s best fitted for you to do.

  4. Man, I wish I had read this before going to college. I eventually figured it out, but it took me two years. For me, my “spaces” were the parks, coffee shops (not the heavily student-trafficed one), steps, and benches around campus. I really liked to be around people without actually having to talk to any of them. I could read, write and draw without feeling completely isolated or completely overwhelmed.

    For me, going out at night was great, as long as I limited the time and made sure to stay up later reading or writing before bed so I could be refreshed the next day. During the day, I would make sure to spend my time between classes away from large groups so I could go out that night.

    It’s funny, being in a sorority and always being part of large organizations, I never really knew I was an introvert. I could pass as an extrovert because I’m not shy and can party with the best of them, but it exhausted me so much mentally and I would spend the rest of the day questioning everything I did and said and wishing I hadn’t said or did anything at all so I wouldn’t have to analyze it. I hated small talk, unexpected phone calls, talking to people without there being a purpose to the conversation and large groups of people. I got easily overwhelmed if there were too many things going on in my life and not enough time to sit by myself and read, write or draw. It wasn’t until all the recent press on introversion that I realized I had always been an introvert, but was kind of forced into extroverted roles and learned how to pass as one.

    I’m sure a lot of people will find this post very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    • I can completely sympathize with not knowing that you are an introvert! It’s only in the last year or two that I figured it out. Thankfully, my life was already pretty well geared to give me alone time. But like you, I had been forced into extroverted roles. So if I try to explain to people that I am an introvert, they don’t believe me. Apparently everyone thinks introverts are shy/can’t function in society. Small talk! I love that you brought that up. I cannot stand small talk. I am told that I often come across as cold or stand offish when I first meet people, simply because I am almost always quiet and distant until I get to know them. You sound very much like me. πŸ™‚ I learned that I can party for a certain amount of time, but after too long, I become extremely impatient and rude and generally just miserable. I now try to leave before I hit that point!

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts! It’s neat to hear how other introverts have coped with college.

    • Learning how to create those boundaries was definitely very difficult. Especially my first year, I felt obligated to do all kinds of activities and then couldn’t understand why I was so grumpy. When I finally figured it out, I was able to manage my moods a lot better.

  5. Thank you for these tips. I used to hide out in my school’s library, but this year, we have a learning commons in which there are no places to be by yourself. There are open spaces, big windows, and no book shelves. Luckily, I commute, so I have my sanctuary at home.

    • No problem – hope they help! It’s rough that your library changed 😦 Like you, I do most of my studying/refreshing at home now. And thanks for the reblog!

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