University is almost starting and fellow introverts maybe rehearsing their worst nightmares to come.
Introverts make up somewhere between a third and a half of the population, but they are often misunderstood. People sometimes regard introverts as people who hate social interactions or have nothing to say.
Also, introversion is on a spectrum, with some people falling more to one side than the other. For example, introverts can excel in areas that are usually attributed to extroverts, like public speaking.
This is the case for Maxine, a student, as she says that she finds public speaking ‘pretty easy, as long as I’m prepared and I know what I am saying. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re not good at presenting.’
The prospect of university life can be daunting for introverts. It is a life packed full of social events, presentations, group assessments and living with strangers.
It is an intimidating situation for introverts to be thrown into – university life can be an overstimulating world.
Let iTHINK give you some helpful information and tips about surviving your first year at university.
Fresher’s week can be an extremely daunting prospect for introverts, particularly with so many new faces and information to retain.
During this time it is completely normal to feel out of your depth, so it is important in the midst of all the craziness to take time out for yourself.
Whether this is reading your favourite book with a cup of tea, or going for a long walk – do it. Do whatever you need to do to reassess your state of mind.
A good tip during fresher’s week, especially if you aren’t that into clubbing or drinking, is to socialise with people during the day. This could simply mean inviting new friends into your room for a chat and a cuppa, or joining a society that you think you would enjoy.
During fresher’s week people actually have a lot of free time during the day, and this time can be put to good use by getting to know people on a deeper level, as opposed to, for example, just knowing what their favourite alcoholic beverage is.
Although it is easier said than done, you should also try and step out of your comfort zone during fresher’s week as it is a great opportunity to make new friends. This could mean trying clubbing at least once with people you like.
However, just because you are going clubbing does not mean that there is any pressure on you to drink alcohol. In fact if anyone does pressure you then they are not worth being friends with.
We assure you that if you stick to these tips, fresher’s week will be a rewarding and enjoyable one.
It is important that you aren’t too hard on yourself – know your social strengths and weaknesses and embrace them! We are all different.
In fact, as introvert Maryam Clark puts it: “Us introverts tend to be great leaders; quietly mentoring those around us with patience and encouragement – the kind of member any team would need. With our attention to detail and time we spend thinking things through, we also tend to be quite eloquent writers.”
Introverts can have their voices heard too – perhaps more creatively and eloquently than others! You could join, or even start, a newspaper for your university.
While it is important to understand your own limits, it is just as important to come out of your shell occasionally. Introverts definitely don’t like being the center of attention, so some academic aspects of university can be terrifying – like presentations for example.
Although you’d prefer to be holed up writing essays with a cup of tea, unfortunately, you can’t choose how you get assessed at university.
Perhaps you could take part in an open-mic night to build up your confidence, or join a study group and practice giving your presentation to them – practice makes perfect!
Take a deep breath and smash that presentation – if you’ve put in the work your professor will see that and overlook your nerves. And remember other people will be in the same situation as you, in fact they could be feeling even more nervous!
Get to know your professors
Try not to avoid your professors – they are there to help! It can be hard to be noticed in a large class, particularly if you don’t join in class discussions. If you have a question, try not to wait until the class is over and simply email your professor – don’t hide behind a screen!
If you are proactive and strike up a conversation it will boost your confidence and help your professor get to know you and your ideas.
Another concern which introverts face – the dreaded question that you are not prepared for from the professor in front of the entire class. We’ve all been there, although some handle it better than others. If your professor calls on you to answer a question in front of everyone take a deep breath and offer your opinion – it’s valid and will be welcomed.
Try not to worry about small talk
In her book Introvert Power, Doctor Laurie Helgoe writes that ‘Introverts do not hate small talk because they dislike people.’ She continues ‘We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.’
An introvert computer science student, Refiloe, goes further stating that ‘I prefer silence. Honestly, small talk is dreadful.’
So skip the small talk and ask people more meaningful questions. Although this may seem daunting, it will help cement long-term friendships and relationships at university and beyond.
This could take you a few tries but you will thank us for it in the long run!
Don’t worry about missing out
There is a strong fear of missing out on events at university. You could be under pressure from your friends or flatmates to go to parties or to join a society. As fashion student Rhyanna Mae states ‘Friendships at university can feel forced sometimes,’ and this is especially true of parties and societies.
The next time you are invited out have a long hard think as to whether you will actually enjoy the event, or if you just feel like you should go due to social expectations.
If your answer is the latter then the answer is simple: do not go out. Stay true to yourself and enjoy your night in.
After all, your happiness comes first.
Invite people over (in small gatherings of course)
Introverts, as you well know, are not anti-social. If the prospect of going to a party fills you with dread, why don’t you invite your friends over instead?
If you are friends it is likely that you will have similar interests – why not binge-watch your favourite Netflix series or enjoy a games night?
Overall, we hope you have enjoyed this survival guide for introverts. On a final note, we just want to say that everyone is different, so just make sure you pick and choose what advice to follow.
If you ever feel truly uncomfortable with something then don’t do it – your state of mind and well-being is of the utmost importance. Overall just try to relax and enjoy your first year at university, it is a very exciting time filled with new possibilities!
Hello! I’m Jodie and I have recently graduated from the University of Winchester with a Master’s degree in English Literature. I’m particularly interested in writing and talking about true crime. In my spare time, I enjoy writing short stories, reading, and travelling.