Introvert: A term that is notorious for its lack of a single, consistent meaning. Unfortunately, it has acquired a generally unfavorable connotation in today’s society. Our eyes are constantly flashed with images of the stereotypical, isolated introvert in contemporary movies and television shows. We have read about the misunderstood “misanthropic” outsider who, in the end, turns out to be the most kind-hearted, intelligent character in the novel. Although these exceedingly prevalent depictions are innocuous on the surface, they carry with them the potential for destruction. If taken too far, these portrayals can contribute to society’s negative introvert stereotypes.
I am here to tell you that introversion is not something to be ashamed of, despite what the media has ingrained in your mind. Introverts can enjoy the company of other people just as much as extroverts — they just require it in smaller doses. I, myself, am an introvert, and I embrace this aspect of my personality. During my years at college, I have learned how to use my introversion to my advantage rather than my detriment.
You might be asking yourself: What does “introvert” really mean? You may be unsure about whether you are one or not. When most people hear the word “introvert,” they tend to immediately associate it with words like “shy” and “reserved;” but while some introverts definitely are withdrawn, you should not mistake all of their reticence for timidity. In most situations, introverts tend to choose their words very carefully, preferring not to waste their energy on inessential chitchat.
Generally, introverts feel the most comfortable when they are alone. Too much social stimulation leaves them feeling drained and overwhelmed. They do not need to be constantly accompanied by others, as extroverts do. Often, they will feel tired and anxious after being exposed to crowds, and they need quiet in order to concentrate.
In addition, they tend to be highly self-aware and reflective. Because they find themselves alone more often, they have more time to reflect on their life. If you find that you possess most of these traits, then you may be an introvert.
So, you have officially confirmed your status as an introvert. Great. Don’t be afraid to flaunt this badge of honor with pride. Your introverted nature can certainly work to your benefit; however, you may not know how to use this trait to your advantage. Thus, I have compiled the following tips. This guidance has helped me thrive as an introvert during college, and I am certain that it will do the same for you, too.
1. Setting Aside Time for Yourself
The first tip I would give my fellow introverts is to not neglect your alone time. You know that you work the best and accomplish the most when you are alone. Therefore, it is vital that you schedule alone time for yourself. During this time, you may do whatever you like, from catching up on homework or your favorite television show to giving yourself a relaxing facial. Regardless of what activities you decide to partake in during your alone time, it is important that you take this juncture to completely relax. If you fail to give yourself the alone time that you need, you will suffer later on and end up feeling stressed out, burned out or both. These feelings are unpleasant, but the good news is that they are avoidable.
2. Social Connections
The second tip comes down to maintaining active communication with your friends. Although alone time is vital for you, you still need to make sure that you are allowing yourself an adequate amount of social time. Even though you require less social interaction than extroverts, you still need some if you wish to thrive both socially and emotionally. If you isolate yourself too much, you will end up feeling too lonely, and sooner or later, you will begin to crave the presence of others. However, do not overwhelm yourself by spending time with too many people at once. Limit your friend group to two or three people, as you do not want to go overboard. Having a couple of good friends that you can depend on should be more than enough. Choose who you’d like to spend your time with carefully.
I have found that the people I get along with the most are those who are similar to me. I would recommend finding friends who are also introverted like you. That is not to say that you should not have any extroverted friends — you should. Sometimes, you need someone to push you out of your comfort zone and expose you to experiences that you would not normally partake in. After all, variety is the spice of life. But if the people you spend time with are too different from you, your friendships with them will falter.
Once you have decided who these friends are, do not let them dwindle from your life. Make sure that you keep in touch with them, both digitally and in real life. You do not need to spend time with them every day or even every other day; however, you should be dedicating a few hours a week to them. It would not be a bad idea to plan weekly study sessions or lunch breaks. If you have an established schedule, you will be more likely to follow through with your plans.
3. Respecting Your Limits
Last but not least, the third important tip for my introverts is to be aware of and respect your limits. In general, introverts tend to have a hard time saying “no” to other people. This is an issue that I know all too well. I have learned, however, that it is extremely important that you understand what your boundaries are. Once you are aware of your limits, you need make them clear to everyone in your life. You need to make sure that other people are not only acknowledging your boundaries but actively respecting them.
For example, if you know that you require alone time to recharge, do not be afraid to communicate your needs to other people. If they show any defiance or lack of respect for your clearly stated boundary, they do not deserve a spot in your life. It is important that you do not give in if someone tries to challenge your boundaries or push you to your limit. You need to be able to value yourself enough to say, “No, I am not comfortable with this, and you need to respect my decision.” Setting limits is not an easy task — in fact, it is usually quite challenging — but you must ensure that the people in your life are treating you the way you want to be treated.