How to Be a Successful Introvert on a Campus Full of Extroverts

on September 8, 2013

Experts say we’re either one or the other. Are you an introvert, or an extrovert? Do you know the difference between the two?

Me, I’m an introvert. I’m quiet and reserved. My big sister likes to say I’m “deep”.

My old friend Steve, on the other hand, was a classic extrovert. No room full of people could hold enough people for Steve! Charming, persuasive, and amazing with kids, for Steve “more” was always merrier!”

Why is this important?

I’m getting to that.

We live in an extroverted culture. Openness, friendliness, the willingness to engage are all highly valued character traits. Their introverted opposites, like reserve and reticence, are often seen as social hindrances or just simple shyness. Because our culture values extroversion so highly, introverts, whether workers or college students, have to work harder to get along and succeed in this world.

Introverts and Extroverts

First let’s get one thing straight. Introversion has nothing to do with shyness. Often the two qualities are grouped together, but that’s more coincidence than necessity. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Some are, like me. Others, like my best friend Martie, aren’t shy at all!

By the simplest definition, introverts are people who expend energy in social situations. We may enjoy parties and events, just like the next person, but we’re often very tired by the end of the night. Extroverts, on the other hand, don’t want the event to end. Ever! They gain energy in social situations. The next party can’t come fast enough!

Because extroversion is stressed so highly in our culture, introverts get a bad rap sometimes. There’s a certain stigma to being an introvert – the captain of the football team is *always* more popular than the president of the chess club. And, though no one likes to admit it, popularity has a lot to do with success.

OK, I’m an introvert. Now what?

First of all, face facts. You’re a minority in an extrovert-majority world. What can you do?

Don’t be afraid to promote yourself.

Be social.

It may be uncomfortable, but do as the extroverts do. Let people see your light! Join a club and speak up. Volunteer whenever, and however, you can. Keep your Facebook and other social media accounts up to date and active. Don’t be afraid to join a conversation. Make an effort to be social, even if you’re never going to be the loudest member of the group.

But then, after all this social activity has exhausted you as it will, remember to do this one simple thing: rest.

Stay around the dorm for a day or two, catch up on a good book, watch television, or just take a long walk alone. As an introvert, you need this quiet time to recharge your batteries. You can’t do without it.

Sometimes we have to fit ourselves to the world we live in. In this world, if you’re an introvert, like me, you’re like a fish at a dog park. Adapt! Learn how to play by their rules. Wag your tail and learn how to bark!

But don’t forget to swim now and then.


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