Advice for introverts at college, on campus

PEOPLE: Some prefer to avoid large groups and parties.

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The beginning of college, whether you’re a first year or a seasoned senior, can be a lot of fun. UND offers many social activities to engage the outgoing student, ranging from street dances to floor parties to the first day of classes. Yet there is one group of students who tends to feel a bit left out. I am talking about my fellow introverts.

Real quick, let us make sure we are on the same page when it comes to defining “introvert.” In everyday conversation, introvert tends to mean something along the lines of “loner” or “antisocial,” and is meant to be negative. When I use the word introvert, I mean something entirely different. According to MyersBriggs.org, introverts are individuals who find comfort in being by themselves or in small groups. To simplify — perhaps overly so — the introverts are people who dislike big crowds. They are not better than extroverts, nor are they worse.

As an introvert, I find the beginning of school a special kind of torture. Although I am highly excited to see friends I already know well and begin classes, I dread the obligatory small talk with new classmates, introducing myself to said classes and getting dragged along to massive parties.

I find that the events UND put on are all about meeting people. This can be great for you extroverts out there — and I am happy for you — but not so great for the rest of us.

So, what to do? Pushing ourselves to be the life of the party ends with not being true to who we really are,  locking ourselves in dorms, apartments or bathrooms, while keeping us comfortable, does not solve anything — and gives us the reputation of being creepy. I made this mistake my freshman year. It took me quite a while to make an established connection with someone. I was shy. I was bad with the beginnings of friendship. It was not a fun time.

Luckily, we introverts have a few options First, there are plenty of on campus activities that will introduce you to others with your interests so you can skip the “Oh, I’m a senior from South Dakota.” shtick and get straight to discussing circular Gallifreyan or implications of Brony culture.

Another thing to not underestimate is your hall government. I was lucky enough to be involved in the Johnstone/Fulton Hall Government my freshman and sophomore years. Were it not for this, I would have never met some of the people I consider my closest friends today. I was able to put my love of planning and organization to use in a way that allowed me to be social without feeling overwhelmed. If you like to plan events, keep things organized and basically work behind the scenes, hall government may be for you. To get involved, just show up at your residence hall’s government meeting. They usually meet weekly.

If you do not mind waiting a bit, make friends with your classmates as well. This first few weeks of classes can be tough — as I mentioned before — but after you get going and loosen up, class discussions can be your release. Once you are comfortable with your classmates, take the discussion outside of class.

Say you do not want to make connections — maybe you already have them or maybe you do not want them — what then? What do you do in your free time? Well, get reading my friend! You have got a good couple of weeks before the class load doubles, or feels like it does. Get ahead now and thank yourself later. If that is not your tune, start a new hobby. Do anything but do something!

The wonderful thing about college for extroverts and introverts alike is that it is a new beginning. It is a time to create yourself, to transition into an adult. However, to do so requires you to take risks, or, as Ms. Frizzle says “Take chances! Make mistakes! And get messy!”

Kjerstine Trooien is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]

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