Ah, the introvert. We have a tendency to be misunderstood, and are commonly referred to as ‘the quiet one’ or ‘the shy one’ of the group. Although we make up roughly just under half of the population, we are often the underdogs to the other half. The social butterflies, the outgoing, the talkers - extroverts. We’re equally as interesting and important, and both contribute to the dynamic of life as we know it, but us introverts sometimes have a hard time.

So what is an introvert exactly? No, it doesn’t mean we’re complete loners who aren’t capable of holding a conversation. But we can take a little bit of time to get to know. The truth is, introverts can be pretty sociable too. The difference is, we thrive in social situations around people we are truly comfortable with, and sometimes keep quiet in larger settings.

“ The irony of introverts is that it can be assumed that we are antisocial and just want to be on our own. But really, we value close, trusting, lasting social connections more than anyone. ”

We’re usually the ones doing the listening, taking in each and every detail, rather than jumping forward to talk about ourselves and our lives. That stuff is kept for our closest friends and loved ones (or after a couple of glasses of wine!). And whilst we love a night out every now and then, or hanging out with our friends at the weekend, we tend to get a little worn out after being around people for too long. We need a little time to refuel on our own. After a long day of work or study, we prefer to go back to our den and chill out on our own or with our other half, rather than sit around with a big group. It’s nothing personal, it’s just how we are.

When it comes to uni, no one tells us introverts how to get that balance right. It’s a difficult one. It’s important to make new friends, but we don’t want to have to be something we’re not - forcing ourselves to hang out in the lounge or at the bar every night, when we’d much prefer to have a half an hour chat and a cuppa before retreating to our bed and a good old book or Netflix. But how can we be ourselves without coming across as antisocial or arrogant?

“  How can we be ourselves without coming across as antisocial or arrogant? ”

Perhaps the single most important thing to remember if you can be a little introverted at times, is to stay true to yourself. In my first and second year of uni, I tried hard to hang around others all the time, because I felt that was what I had to do to ‘fit in’. Although I was with a great bunch of people, they were definitely more extroverted than me, and at times I felt suffocated.

By my third year, I realised it was more important to be true to myself and be involved when I wanted to be. I spent the rest of the time doing things I wanted to. For sure, it meant I wasn’t as much a part of the gang, but at least I was being myself. And anyway, if any of your friends have difficulty accepting your true personality, then that is their issue to deal with. What you will learn through university is that those who respect your introverted nature are the keepers. We learn to trust those people, and begin to really come out of our shell in their company in a way others will not see.

“ We learn to trust those people, and begin to really come out of our shell in their company in a way others will not see. ”

If you’re an introvert and in any way similar to me, you’ll love finding people who share the same mindset as you. Sometimes, you just need someone who can enjoy the quiet and get lost in a deep conversation which others might find boring or weird. When I was at university, I naturally drifted towards the other introverted person in my accommodation, and ended up becoming very close. It’s important to find someone you can confide in and who understands you. This will help you feel more accepted, and stop you from feeling isolated. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to be confident in who you are, what you value, and how your mind works. Don’t apologise for needing more time to yourself than others might. The people worth keeping in your life will gladly accept you and appreciate you for who you are.

“ At the end of the day, it's important to be confident in who you are, what you value, and how your mind works. ”

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Written by Alice Lang, 10 months ago
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