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An introvert’s college experience

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Introverts may perceive college experiences differently from extroverts

According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, “Introversion-along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.”

Your college experience is likely to vary drastically from that of your peers’ based on your individual personalities. More so if you identify as an introvert in a society that applauds extroversion. While you ride on the roller coaster that is college, remember that individual experiences in college are subjective, and need not conform to a set standard of what ‘college life’ should or should not be like.

Here are some ways an introvert perceives life in college-to convince other introverts that they are not alone, and to give extroverts a glimpse of what it feels like to be at the other end of the spectrum.

“Where’s the party at? I’m running in the opposite direction!”

Introverts are not particularly fond of forced interactions or excessive external stimulation. Therefore, large crowds of noisy people, drinking and dancing to loud music, would make an introvert intensely uncomfortable. This implies that the parties, which most people think are integral to college life, are not where you will find introverts. Invite an introvert to a party and they will immediately think of a 101 imaginary reasons not to show up. They would rather spend their evening indoors, pursuing their favourite hobby, or spending time with a few close friends.

An escape plan is always on our minds

If we do show up at that society farewell/celebration of the annual play production, we have already thought of a plan to leave 10 minutes into the event. Trust us to come up with the most innovative, loophole-less excuses.

“Why don’t you talk more?”

This is a phrase that an introvert encounters every other day. Introverts do not enjoy small talk ergo, they will say nothing unless they have something significant to share. Susain Cain puts this in the most lucid way-“In school, you might have been prodded to ‘come out of your shell’- that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and that some humans are just the same.”

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It is sometimes an internal tussle to be part of college societies

This probably applies to every extracurricular activity in college. Introverts may be faced with the dilemma of wanting to do something productive with their time in college, yet not wanting to subject themselves to too much social interaction. This leaves an introvert with two alternatives-exclude themselves from such activities entirely, or participate to a limited extent. The introvert might be the person in the society who will enjoy the work, but not show up to the meetings, celebrations or parties.

However, despite the above, college is also the space where introverts find acceptance. For most of us, college is that secure environment where one is allowed to be whoever they want to be, no questions asked. The interests you pursue and the paths you choose are entirely your own and judgement is very easy to ignore. An introvert is given the freedom to selectively participate in society activities or hang out with just a few close friends. While your teachers or parents might force you into activities you do not enjoy in school, college allows you the space to make your own decisions and come to terms with your personalities, among others who are coming to terms with their own.

Featured image credits: theawkwardyeti.com and buzzfeed.com

Abhinaya Harigovind

[email protected]



[email protected] ; 'A self-confessed workaholic, I run on endless cups of coffee, last-minute panic, and the smell of fresh print on paper. Student of History at St.Stephen's College, but home and heart lie in Bangalore. Like Holden says, "I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot."'

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