An introvert’s guide to starting university
If you’ve clicked your way here, you probably identify as an introvert.
That’s someone whose energy is zapped by social interaction and who needs time alone to recharge.
For this type of person, the prospect of starting uni, meeting new people, going out a lot and having to be ‘on’ at all times, is a daunting one.
Don’t fear; this guide is for you. Here are 5 ways to navigate the social maze that is being a Fresher.
1) Develop a ‘reward’ system
There’s no getting round the fact that you will have to meet and spend time with new people in your first few weeks at uni.
Otherwise, you run the risk of isolating yourself and making it harder to form friendships and settle in.
However, you can strike a balance so that you're not overwhelmed by socialising. Enter, your very own reward system.
For example, you could say to yourself that once you’ve spent a few hours at an event and have chatted to at least 3 new people, you can go home and spend the rest of the night watching Netflix in your room.
Give it a go; it’s a great way to gently encourage yourself without stoking your anxiety.
2) Learn when you need to push yourself
Being shy and being an introvert don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
However, when they do, it can be difficult to distinguish when you just need time to recharge, and when you’re avoiding a social event because you’re afraid.
So, when you feel the urge to skip that society taster session you signed up for, really ask yourself what lies behind it. And if it’s because you feel nervous rather than drained, try your absolute best to push past it.
This is when the reward system will come in handy!
3) Find fellow introverts
It’s estimated that just under half of the population are introverts so you shouldn’t struggle to find others who share your preference for quieter events with less people. In fact, the likelihood is that there’ll be a few of you sharing a flat!
A great way to find like-minded people at uni is through societies.
It’s not always the case, but often the activities that appeal to you as an introvert are likely to attract others with a similar nature.
Uni societies offer a way to find your tribe so make sure you give these a go in Freshers’ Week.
4) Remember that the rest of uni won’t be like Freshers’ Week
Freshers’ Week lasts one to two weeks at most UK universities.
If you’re nervous about it, this might seem like an age. Even now, you're probably imagining every agonising bout of small talk, or the never-ending club nights you'll have to get through.
However, a couple of weeks really is nothing. Particularly in the grand scheme of things, aka, the 3-4 years you’ll be at university.
Try and keep this perspective during Freshers’ Week if you’re finding it tough; university life won’t be like this forever.
Once Freshers’ is over, there won’t be the same pressure to attend everything and you’re much freer to decide your own social schedule.
5) Be yourself
Yes, you should try to put yourself out there during Freshers’ Week so you don’t miss out on experiences you’ll enjoy, or that will help you later down the line at university.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to transform yourself or mask your true personality when meeting flatmates, course mates or students at societies.
Feel free to just say that you’re an introvert and find big events or meeting new people challenging; you’ll be surprised at how many times you’ll hear “SAME!” exclaimed in response.
There are many positives to being an introvert, so don’t hide this side of yourself when meeting new people. Be authentic, and you’re much more likely to form meaningful friendships from the get go.
So introverts, keep these 5 things in mind during your first few weeks of university life and you'll get the hang of it in no time. There's absolutely no reason you can't enjoy being a Fresher as an introvert - just embrace the experience and stay positive! Good luck.
Keep reading: How to survive Freshers’ Week if you don’t drink