College is overwhelming, that’s a fact. Constantly working on homework, trying to master time management, being away from home. It’s a lot for anyone to handle, especially for introverts. By definition, introverts are people who gain energy or recharge from being alone, not around people. How often do you find yourself alone and quiet in college? Basically never, right? Navigating college on an empty tank, both a mental and a physical one, is exhausting and has the potential to cause some pretty ugly side effects. As a 98 percent introverted college student, yes 98 percent, I have accumulated an arsenal of tips for introverts in college over the years to keep myself sane and healthy amongst the craziness of college life. Below you’ll find suggestions and ways to take care of your introverted self from both me and the College Fashionista community.
Don’t Be Afraid to Cancel Plans
During the first semester of college, it becomes easier and easier to overexert yourself. Making friends is so important, but how is that accomplished? By making plans, hanging out together, and being on the go constantly, which can drain your introvert battery. Don’t be afraid to cancel a plan or two and take a night for yourself. Corrine, a junior at UNC Charlotte, said, “Realize being alone is okay! Nobody really talks about how it can be super hard to make friends in college, but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you; trust the process. If you’re introverted, accept it, and become comfortable with yourself. The college experience is different for everyone.” You won’t lose any friends because you need one night to recharge. From my experience, your friends might even thank you because they’ve been needing a quiet night too, but haven’t wanted to say anything.
Find Your Happy Place
Introverts love a hiding place. A place to be totally alone, safe, and quiet without the fear of having too many people around. Leah, a sophomore at Boston Conservatory, said “that it helps if you find one place on campus you are completely comfortable being alone.” Whether that be your dorm room, the library, even a studio space. If canceling plans makes you anxious because it means you’re navigating this new home alone, find your safe space and let that space help ease the transition.
Be Aware of Spreading Yourself Too Thin
I don’t know about you, but in my mind making the most of my college experience was everything to me. This meant I jumped into way too many clubs and extracurriculars on top of my already grueling schoolwork. I told myself that the connections I made through all of these different clubs would be beneficial and help me in the future when it came to networking and looking for jobs. However, as my freshman year dragged on, I found myself not being able to commit myself fully to all of these clubs and my mental energy was quickly dwindling.
A great reminder and tip for introverts in college is that you don’t need to be involved in everything. Choose one or two extracurriculars, maybe three if you really think you can handle it, and devote yourself fully. It is so much better to be fully invested and refreshed than tiring out and not contributing all you can. You and your team will thank you. University of Florida Sophomore Viviana agrees, “In college, it is difficult not to spread yourself thin. I have chosen a few clubs I will devote time to instead of trying to be everywhere. It’s about understanding your limits and comforting yourself with things that refresh and recharge you.”
Put Yourself out There
Introverts love a routine. They love predictability and alone time. However, there is something to be said for not always giving into that little voice in your head that says, “Just stay home.” Or “You won’t have fun; this is too far outside of your comfort zone.” There’s a big difference between rightfully taking time for yourself and saying no because you’re scared. Lexi, a junior at Colorado State University, has a great mindset when it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone. “There are so many times when I know I don’t want to be social or go out, but I think long term. If I know I’ll have FOMO, then I force myself to go! Sometimes you have to fight your inner self. Not to say you should always do what you don’t want to do, but think long term happiness instead of short term!”
Find a Support System
Leaving home also means leaving your family—your built-in support system. Having a friend around you who is also an introvert, or at least understands the introvert mentality, can be incredibly beneficial to navigating the craziness of college. Marieta-Rita, a sophomore at Carleton University, says that finding her support system was the best way to start feeling more at home. “Find someone who sort of gets you. It’s hard to find friends in college and introverts can have a harder time. Even finding one person will help a lot with feeling lonely, especially if you live alone. You’ll have to go out of your comfort zone a bit, but you might have fun. You’ll learn something new, and you might gain a friend.”
Find Your Own Fun
The stereotypical college weekend includes overcrowded parties and way too much small talk. This can be anxiety-inducing and scary for anyone. Here’s the thing, there are so many people who dread those situations almost as much as you do. Weekends are supposed to help you unwind after a long week, not overwhelm you more.
Get creative with your time off from classes. If parties and major social events aren’t your thing that’s totally okay. Ashley, a junior at Saint Vincent College, has found that she is the most comfortable in small group social situations. “Sometimes it can get discouraging as an introvert if you don’t enjoy the party scene like everyone else, but there are plenty of other ways to be comfortable and have fun at the same time. You can have movie nights in your dorm, go on a nature walk, cook a meal with friends, have a shopping spree, and ALWAYS make time for self care.” Finding activities where you feel most comfortable can help you get centered and build confidence.
Clear Your Mental Space
There is no way that you can healthily pour into your college experience without first pouring into yourself. I promise. The idea of self-care has blown up on social media in the last year or so, and for good reason. Self-care can be something as in-depth as meditation or as simple as a face mask. Self-care has the ability to clear your mind and the recharge your batteries. My personal favorite self-care is to take a day and make absolutely no plan. I have an easy morning, binge my favorite Netflix show, and just run errands alone. This way I can have limited human interaction and recharge while still being productive.
If your schedule is already tight, a 10-minute mini meditation can act as a quick reset button. All it takes is finding one thing a day that fulfills you. Ashley finds time to center herself by setting aside time in her schedule for self-care. “Remember to make time for yourself whether that be taking a walk or just meditating. The most important thing is to find the balance that works for you. Above all, believe in yourself. You are growing each day to make the best version of yourself.” Taking a few minutes out of your day to check in on yourself can ensure that you have energy remaining to devote to everything college throws at you.
What are your tips for navigating college as an introvert? Let us know in the comments.
Opening image by Avery Rizzotto.