Approximately one third of the global adult population exhibits introverted traits, yet young adults often have difficulty using this personality trait to their advantage.
A college campus is a kaleidoscopic mix of hundreds of young adults, bustling with activity at any given point of time. There are people to see, clubs to join, and parties to turn up at. Oh, and sometimes there are classes to attend.The chaos of student life can prove to be quite overwhelming for most students. Some exhibit major FOMO, some procrastinate endlessly, some won’t speak up in class even when they know the right answer to a question, while others end up completely isolating themselves. In other words, the fear of losing what are supposed to be ‘the best years of your life’ sets in, and it’s daunting.
Everyone has extroverted and introverted traits, people just lean into different sides of the spectrum. In the first year of college, most of us face a personality overhaul. Generally, this change is a three tier process.
1. The Epiphany
School is a safe and gated community. Most students are extremely comfortable in the familiarity of their local schools, and the first few weeks at college introduces them to the hardships of adjustment, compromise and initiative. Students end up realizing or at least considering the fact that they might not be as social and amiable as they thought.
It is expected of people to want to be social and enthusiastic, most borderline introverts force themselves into uncomfortable situations to fit in better. We live in an over-competitive and capitalist society that particularly values extroverted traits because introversion is often considered to be a weakness. Susan Cain, famous author and Harvard Law School graduate, calls this the ‘Extrovert Ideal’. It is the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight which causes introversion to be considered a ‘second class trait.’
In a university where class participation, group assignments with randomly assigned members and ‘networking’ are over emphasized, colleges often neglect to cultivate the introverted side of their students’ personalities.Anushree, a first year student at Lady Shri Ram College for Women says, “I am a very reserved person, it takes me a long time to adjust to change since I don’t connect with people that easily.”
Long story short, several people feel disadvantaged due to their social skills (or lack thereof) or disdain for excessive human interaction. Be it regarding employment prospects, co-curricular activities, class participation or human relationships, they feel like they are missing out.
After a couple of miserable months spent in pretense, people realize that at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that different people flourish in different environments. A textbook introvert may feel more comfortable in an intimate setting or in one on one interaction. They add value to any piece of work because of their scrupulous nature and creativity. In friendships, feeling the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering but not quite in it like resting your head in the backseat of a car listening to your friends chatting up front, bonding with a friend at a party while everyone dances inside. The feeling is blissfully invisible yet still fully included feels pretty great.
Feature Image Credits: Tee Public