Friday, March 16, 2018

The Introvert Goes to School

Throughout elementary and high school I would be what we classify as an introvert. I was often shy and reticent in unfamiliar situations. To combat this, I learned to love presenting and public speaking, which is a skill I use frequently now. I thought I have “overcome” my introversion over high school. I enjoyed working at a fast pace, I was energized by public events and had an air of self-confidence that I once lacked.

But it can be difficult to outgrow such a staple of your personality. My Myers Briggs test revealed that I did still lean towards introversion over extraversion. I still opt for individual projects whenever possible and will often focus on a single task at a time.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this person and working this way however it can be difficult at University. University prides itself on building social connections within departments and as a school. It is terribly frightening to go to a new school with thousands of people you’ve never met before. Instead of letting this new world break me, I adapted and am making the best of it all. Here are a few tips that have really helped me out, and I hope will help you out as well.

My first tip is to go and explore the school. Welcome Week is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in your new school’s culture. I would love to tell you more about what fun welcome week is, but I skipped it to attend Trillium Championships. But fear not! Welcome Week truly extends over the first six weeks. There are so many events, socials, and ways to meets clubs on campus. All of these are great opportunities to meeting new people, learning new skills, and discovering things on campus. By no means do you have to go to every event (you should not). Instead, try to preplan you “social schedule”. Even twenty minutes here and there will help you feel more comfortable at school.

Following this, try to join some clubs! Most schools have a club for just about anything you could imagine, and these are great ways to meet people who have similar interests as you. I am on the McMaster Equestrian Club and also participate in the DeGroote Women in Business and Model UN events. Being comfortable helps you feel confident, so find clubs that interest you. I am lucky to have met so many nice people outside of my department through these clubs and am already planning which clubs to join next year!

Whether you’re an introvert or not, you need to schedule some quality you time. In such a hectic environment, it is crucial to find some time to just relax and have fun.  Every single day, aim to set aside yourself, even if it can only be twenty minutes. Use this time to break the pile of stress that can weigh you down.  My go-to activities include watching an episode of Netflix, reading a chapter of my book (currently rereading “the 80 Dollar Champion”), skimming through Pinterest and of course blogging.

If possible, consider living off campus. This is one of the best decisions that I have made and am thrilled that I have. I can enjoy the bustle of McMaster but know I can go home and just turn off and chill out. I can enjoy what McMaster has to offer however I can also get away from it. By having an apartment instead of a dorm, it also feels more like home and of course, more open. Now if you do take this route, do not become a hermit. Make sure that you aren’t lonely and spending all your time at ‘home’ as this will damage your physical well-being and decrease any social interaction.

Make friends with your fellow classmates! I am lucky to have a small department, but for those of you in a department of hundreds of students, it can be easy to get lost in the crowd. By making a friend in every one of your classes, you ensure that you will always have someone to sit with, a secondary note taker and a proofreader. Be sure to support them as much as they support you and break outside the classroom. Go for lunch or coffee every now and then too, don’t just make it all about the class.

Stepping outside your comfort zone truly is worth it. Whether it is going to a social or making the first introduction, I can honestly say that you will feel good about yourself after. Do it and you won’t regret it!  I hope that you have found this post to be helpful!