If you were to ask anyone I met my freshman year of college (aside from the people that I actually lived with), I can almost guarantee that they would think I was a full-blown extrovert. It’s true, I do make friends easily and I tend to get loud when I’m excited, but the truth is that I’d much rather sit in my room all day than fraternize with the general public. Moving from your comfortable and stable life at home to the bustling community of a college campus can be quite intimidating when you are a natural introvert. It took me a while to find my perfect balance, but this is what I’ve learned in achieving it. Here are some tips to survive freshman year if you’re an introvert (Spoiler Alert: it requires you to leave your bed)!
I know that when I was applying for housing my first year, I had the option to live in a private room with a shared bathroom, but I chose to live with a roommate instead. Part of the reason I chose to live with a roommate was because it was cheaper (and so of course my parents believed it was the only option,) and because I knew that I would be encouraged to meet more people if I had another girl living with me who wanted the same thing. When you live in a private room—or even when you are in the room by yourself—it is tempting to shut everyone out and be alone, but freshman year is for making friends! Don’t be afraid to prop your door open, you’ll be much happier if you do!
My first semester of college I joined several clubs and from there I picked out the ones that I enjoyed the most to continue going to. Clubs are a great way to get involved and meet people with common interests and I know for me personally, having a set day and time each week to meet encouraged me to go. If you feel nervous about going to a club or feel like you won’t be able to keep up with it, take a friend or your roommate with you so they encourage you to go as well.
The best thing I did my freshman year was make friends on my floor. Having friends on the same floor helped me branch out during my first and second semesters of college because it’s a lot easier to convince yourself to walk down the hall instead of across campus—plus pj parties are made incredibly easy when your friends live just a few doors down!
It seems silly, but I sometimes forget that I truly am an introvert and need to be either alone or in a relaxed setting a majority of the time. It also took me quite a while to get used to never truly being “alone,” even if my roommate was in her quiet corner of the room. I found it beneficial, especially during my first semester while I was still transitioning, to find at least an hour or two to be alone when I could. Knowing your roommate’s and suitemate’s schedules helps as well so you know for sure when you’ll be home alone each day (we keep a copy of our schedules on our shared bathroom door!) And even when you can’t be alone, you’ll eventually become comfortable with shared silence in your room.
First semester of freshman year it was extremely hard for me to adjust to being around people almost 100% of the time. Even when you are alone in your room you are still living on a floor with thirty or more other students. It definitely became overwhelming for me at times and it didn’t help that my roommate chose to stay in the dorms every single weekend (despite living only twenty minutes away I might add). I found that toward the end of the semester I took advantage of my living only an hour away from my parent’s house. When I feel like I need an exceptional amount of time to be alone—and I mean really alone—I found a way to stay home for the weekend. If you can’t do this, consider talking to your roommate about having the room alone for the weekend. Trust me, she knows what it feels like to want to be alone too!
One of my good friends from freshman year always used to mention that when her roommate wasn’t home she felt like she should take the opportunity to be in the room alone. I always laughed when she said this—despite feeling the same way a lot of the time—because it sounds so silly when you hear it out loud. But it’s true for an introvert! Savor the moments you have to yourself, don’t feel guilty for not studying every waking moment you can or not heading to the gym in your hour of alone time. If you need to, take the time to hang out alone and enjoy yourself doing the things you love. Savor these moments of alone time and take as many as you need. In doing this, you will be able to also enjoy and savor the moments and memories you have with your friends.
I don’t know how it is for every introvert, but for me personally I forget that I need to spend time alone. My first semester I made the mistake of hardly ever giving myself “me” time and ended up having to spend days at a time not talking to anyone or being extremely irritable when I did. This not only confused my friends, but I missed out on opportunities to make memories with them. I can assure you that this is the worst thing for you to do! Considering that as a freshman you have to be around people for most of your day, it’s inevitable that you will have to communicate at some point. Don’t let yourself get to the point of not speaking, just take your time alone when you feel like you need it!
I know how tempting it can be to sit inside every free moment you have and zone out listening to music or binge watch a few episodes on Netflix, but remember that you are in college now. College is about having new experiences and learning new things, don’t be afraid to step out of you comfort zone once in a while—even if it’s a baby step! In high school it can be intimidating to go against the status quo, but in college it’s normal. Don’t be afraid to take chances, not every beautiful day is meant for hiding inside!