It’s important to know that if you’re an introvert, you’re in good company. It’s estimated that between half and a third of the population are introverts! But university can be a tricky time if you have an introverted personality. From constant pressure to socialise to avoiding burnout and finding time for yourself, alongside uni deadlines and money worries, being an introvert at uni can feel like walking on a tightrope. And that’s before you factor in having to convince your extroverted friends that you not wanting to hang out on a Saturday night really is about you, not them. That’s why we have put together the ultimate introvert’s survival guide to help you turn your introversion into your greatest ally at university. Enjoy!
First things first…What exactly is an introvert?
There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be an introvert. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you hate people, or that you’re cripplingly shy and unable to function in social settings! It just means that you recharge and feel energised through time alone, whereas extroverts feel energised from interacting with others. Extroversion and introversion work as a spectrum, with some people identifying more obviously with one side than the other. If you’re unsure whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you can find a quick test here.
The Introvert’s Survival Guide to University:
Remember, you don’t need to say yes to everything
First up on our introvert’s survival guide is navigating the pressure to say yes to every social event. If you’re an introvert, it can be tempting to bypass your need to recharge to avoid the dreaded FOMO that comes from skipping a social event. But saying yes to every social opportunity even when you don’t want to go is a fast way to burn yourself out, especially if you’re introverted. It’s difficult to say no to well-intentioned friends but you should only say yes to events that you really want to go to. That way you’ll be able to show up as your best self knowing you’ll likely have a good time and be better company. Everyone wins!
Let go of expectations about what University should be
Next up on our introvert’s survival guide to university is letting go of expectations about what your social life should look like whilst at uni. Thanks to the likes of Instagram and glossy university marketing brochures, there’s more pressure than ever to create the ‘picture-perfect’ university experience. But don’t make the mistake of comparing your life to someone else’s highlight reel. Try to let go of the university fantasy and focus on making university a time that’s fulfilling for you. Happiness looks different for everyone. If you feel more fulfilled building deep connections with a smaller group of friends, do that. Equally, if you’re someone that feels happiest meeting new people and forming new connections regularly, then make that a priority. The only wrong way to spend your time at university is by doing things that don’t make you happy!
Buddy up with an introverted accomplice
This point is especially relevant to any anxious introverts. Investing in a few introverted friends shouldn’t be overlooked when trying to survive university as an introvert. Of course, this isn’t to say that extroverts don’t make amazing friends! But it can be good to have a couple of like-minded introverts in your social circle who have similar hobbies and get the introverted struggle. That way, you’ll always have a friend who wants to leave the party at the same time you do. What a lifesaver!
Bring headphones with you. Everywhere.
Another essential point in our introvert’s survival guide is bringing headphones with you everywhere. It may sound silly, but introverts are much more sensitive to their external environment than extroverts. Wearing headphones can be a simple but effective way to lessen distracting noise and create a calm internal world that is essential for introverts to feel their best. So, make yourself a playlist, pop your headphones in, and listen to the sweet sounds of George Michael (or whoever else you enjoy) serenade you as you go about your day.
Spend your alone time recharging, not worrying
Next up on our introvert’s survival guide is the importance of making your alone time enjoyable. It’s great (and necessary) to schedule alone time as an introvert. But if you spend it worrying about the fact you’re not socialising, or other uni stresses such as finances and deadlines, you still won’t feel recharged! That’s why it is essential to make your time to yourself as fun as possible. So, dust off the paints, get out that unfinished book, catch up on that Netflix series or whatever else it is you love doing, and get to it!
Respect the introvert hangover!
It just wouldn’t be an Introvert’s Survival Guide without mentioning the dreaded introvert hangover. Perhaps not the first type of hangover that comes to mind when you think of university life, the introvert hangover is not to be underestimated. It’s a form of burnout that happens when an introvert continually overextends themselves socially without taking time alone to recharge. This can present as foggy-headedness, fatigue, zoning out or feeling grumpy. You can even experience physical symptoms like headaches and stomach pains! So, if you’re experiencing an introvert hangover, it is important to respect what your body is trying to tell you and rest. You can find further information on the introvert hangover as well as advice on how to recover here.
Learn to value your introversion
In a world that doesn’t stop talking, it’s easy to feel like introversion is a curse rather than a gift. But being introverted doesn’t make you any less skilled or valuable than an extrovert. In fact, being introverted comes with some pretty amazing strengths. From being a good listener to focusing deeply, to thinking creatively, there is so much to love about being introverted. University is what you choose to make of it. So, if you’re an introvert, remember not to sell your strengths short. Use your voice, share your ideas, and honour your introversion. You have just as much of a right to an amazing university experience as anyone else!
With this introvert’s survival guide, hopefully, you feel more confident making university your own if you have an introverted personality. If you’re looking for info on what uni is like as an introvert, check out a first-hand account ‘An introverts’ guide to surviving freshers’ week’ here.