An Introvert’s Guide to Survival

If you are anything like me, you have probably been called “quiet” or “shy” for most of your life. The kind of person who sits in the back of the classroom, not asking questions as a result of overanalyzing and daydreaming. The person who doesn’t voluntarily go to parties but tries to escape as friends dance the night away as soon as you do. The person who simultaneously struggles to make friends and keep loved ones close. If you read this and feel personally attacked, I would like to say: “Hi, I’m Natalie, and I am also an introvert.”

If you are reading this and are confused, you might be an extrovert. These generalizations characterize the way we socialize and interact with the world. While an extrovert thrives in social situations, introverts awkwardly struggle through conversations. These struggles can be as simple as meeting a new person or as chaotic as a house party, because no two introverts are the same. For example, I love meeting new people and giving a penny for their thoughts; however, you couldn’t pay me to go to a bar and flirt with someone or ask questions in my over-300-person lecture. Furthermore, while I consider myself an introvert, you might see me interacting with my friends and assume the opposite. Other introverts simply do not like public settings, so you wouldn’t see them in such an overstimulating environment.  Although introverts aren’t the most social, it doesn’t mean they lack companionship. It means they do better in small group settings with people they trust. Introverts choose quality over quantity and tend to be great listeners. They are also great at noticing small things and reflecting on their own life since they tend to have wild imaginations. It’s truly amazing all the things you can learn if you take a step back and look at the world from an introvert’s point of view.

While I am not qualified in any way to give professional advice, I have learned how to calm the anxiety I face in certain social situations. The simplest one is to remember is that no one cares. If you find yourself analyzing how you said “Here!” during attendance, or any public speaking event, it’s important to remember that no one is ever paying close attention. Most of the time, you are your own worst critic, so don’t let insecurities stop you from speaking.

Another piece of advice I learned from multiple social fails in college is to be your authentic self despite whoever’s watching. Let that wonderful personality shine through the awkwardness because you will find someone just as wonderfully weird as you. Speaking of understanding, if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, try to befriend an extrovert. It might be cliche, but opposites do attract and can make for great best friends. Opposites tend to bring out the best and most vulnerable parts of each other and push each other to try new things they might not have done on their own. My best friend and I couldn’t be any more different, but we are a perfect balance of extroverted and introverted. If it wasn’t for her, I would have never gone to her basketball game and enjoyed cheering her on. But at the same time we love to just get lunch and spend the whole time talking about everything from life’s greatest issues to our mutual love of ‘90s boy bands.

So, my fellow quiet kids, it’s our time. Get out from the back row every once in a while and do something crazy, like ask a question in lecture. If you’re feeling daring, go out with some new friends and try something you might regret in 20 years (at least it would make a great story). Worst case scenario, you go home to cuddle up with a blanket and a book.