What It’s Like Being an Introvert in College

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Just because I am an introvert doesn’t mean that is not subject to change.

It’s not contagious. Nor is it airborne. But with the negative stigma I could see why people act as though we are diseased.

On the surface I appear coy, uninterested in the things going on with those around me. But in my soul, I am filling the pages and making mental notes. Keeping a mental tracker of what makes the people around me tick and what makes them smile.

But if I had a dollar for every time someone got the wrong impression of me… this Howard tuition wouldn’t be such a doozy. So for the sake of setting the record straight: I’m not anti-social and I’m not a snob. I actually love meeting getting to know new people, I just can’t take being around people 24/7. It drains me. I become withdrawn. And it’s just that easy to be labeled as someone who isn’t nice, or isn’t friendly.

I didn’t even know I was introverted until I got to college. In high school, I did all the typical things teenage girls do. I cheered. I danced. I didn’t think it could get much better than high school. You get to be with your friends all day, go home, recharge and then do it all again the next day. But that was the thing about college. I couldn’t recharge.

I was making friends with girls who lived on my floor. I would go to class with them, eat with them, then head back to the dorm and indulge in your average girl talk. Every single day. My brain wasn’t meant for that. It only became a matter of time before I didn’t want to hang out anymore. It was nothing against them. They were great girls. I was just overexerting my time with them, and becoming warped in my own thoughts just began to seem more appealing.

It had gotten so bad that I had needed an “intervention.” It sounds hilarious as I look back at it. My friends are both extroverts, and I’m not sure they had ever really encountered someone with a personality like mine.

But, back to the intervention.

Here they were, telling me how awful of a friend I was, when in reality I didn’t know any other way to be. I couldn’t help it if I would rather be in my room instead of talking until I fell asleep, or if sometimes I just didn’t care to be bothered with their other sets of friends.

By the end of what felt like the most dramatic dinner I’d ever sat through, I internalized all that had been said. They were right. I was standoffish. By that time I had been getting complaints from too many people so I went back to the drawing board.

As the years went on, I tried something different. I was growing to despise this introversion lifestyle I had picked up out of nowhere. I was trapped. How was I supposed to build memories in college if I felt like my personality traits were holding me back?

I immersed myself with people who were interested in my interests. I forced myself to leave my room a little more. I put myself out of my comfort zone. Getting the urge to want to be around people is still something new to me. It surprises me daily, but small strides are better than no strides.

I am an introvert, but I think that is subject to change.

[Lead image via Danie Nel/Shutterstock]

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