Greetings from The Inside Word! Occasionally our bloggers prefer to post anonymously when discussing personal or private matters. This is one such blog. We hope you’ll find the insights and advice interesting and helpful:
Google defines an introvert as “a shy, reticent person”. That’s it.
After proceeding to find out the definition of reticent (it means you are inclined to be silent or uncommunicative in speech), I started thinking deeply.
For so many years, I believed introversion was my biggest flaw. Based on Google’s definition, it seems as though introverts are simply a supporting character in the movie that is life. It has taken me until very recently to realise that actually, introversion isn’t a weakness. It is a strength.
If you are an introvert, know that you are not alone. In fact, we are estimated to make up between 25–40% of the population – so it might be more common than you think!
Despite this, we do live in an incredibly noisy world. Your cautious approach to life’s seemingly rambunctious façade is something to be celebrated. Your ability to listen. To learn independently, think critically, reflect deeply. These skills are super useful for studying in university!
However, the truth is that you cannot avoid everything. You might have huge lecture theatres, group projects, solo presentations, job interviews – or you could be randomly called on to answer a question (no, that is not just a high school thing!)
There isn’t a magic wand, a step-by-step guide, or a quick fix that will transform you into an extrovert. I think that’s a great thing, because you don’t need to change yourself, and you certainly don’t need to be extroverted to make it through these situations.
If you’re worried about how you will manage in a university environment, or if you feel alone, different or a little lost, I have three tips which I hope will help you out. They did for me!
Practice stepping out of your comfort zone willingly
My comfort zone may be different to yours, so this story may not seem like much of an accomplishment to you. Earlier this year I stepped (okay, leapt) out of my comfort zone when I spontaneously decided to actually raise my hand and answer a question in a large lecture. My heart was beating out of my chest, I felt awkward, and well, it was scary. But I felt so proud that I did it again the very next day.
When you willingly step out of your comfort zone, it makes it so much easier to handle situations out of your control when you are forced out of it. You’ve already proven to yourself that, whatever your fears may be, they don’t define you. You are so much stronger than you think.
Stay in tune with your feelings and take time out for yourself before your inner battery dies
The science behind introversion cannot be reduced to a simple definition by Google. Social situations can be *really* draining for introverts, and we need to spend time alone to recharge our inner battery. Although it is important to step out of your comfort zone to overcome possible fears you may have in social situations, you’re allowed to say no. There is nothing wrong with preferring to meet your close friends for coffee rather than going to a big house party where you may feel overwhelmed.
You might struggle with studying without the “charger” that is time alone. This might be as simple as studying in silent floors of the library. When I first arrived at university I worried this would be seen as “nerdy” but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
My extra top-tip for shy introverts: Body language
Being introverted is not the same as being shy, however the two often go hand-in-hand with introverts. I believe introversion is a wonderful personality trait, and even though it gravitates you toward the comfort of the inner world, it shouldn’t be the direct source of your anxiety in social situations. Shyness, however, can feel debilitating. It can play with your emotions, making you believe you are awkward, that everyone is staring at you – and that they are judging you.
I promise you: These are just mind games. They couldn’t be further from the truth.
As a shy introvert, this is something I still struggle with and am actively working on. Body language can be so important for your confidence. To help me open up to the world, I make sure of three things when I am around people: that my head is facing forward, that my shoulders are relaxed, and that I have a smile. It seems simple, but it makes a big difference.
Own your introversion. Cherish it, recognise it, and never let it hold you back from achieving your goals. No matter how introverted or shy you are, you can thrive at university – and you will – you simply need to trust yourself.