Until I came to college, you would never hear me describe myself as an introvert. I loved being around people and was usually lonely without anyone around. I was constantly being introduced as someone who was outgoing, personable, and upbeat. I joined a sorority and tried to constantly fill my days with activities and feel like I wasn’t alone.
I began to feel so run down. I lost interest and felt tired and didn’t have the same energy I started college with, and I was concerned. I was starting to realize college wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but I had been playing the ‘ignorance is bliss’ card, working as hard as I could to ignore it.
My second time around, I came with a new attitude and game plan, and much less useless junk (i.e. my collection of ceramics from kindergarten). I learned to appreciate my space and my time to sit down and take a breather. Being constantly surrounded by people gets overwhelming and tiresome and I realized how important it was to my mental state to be able to be alone at least once a day.
My advice for anyone starting school, or any new venture in a brand new environment, is to be open and honest about what you need. No one excepts you to be ‘on’ all the time, no matter how high the stakes might seem. If you need to take a long shower to regroup, do it. If you need to journal or read or watch TV, find a quiet place.
Once I came to terms with this, I felt so much better about my entire experience. Being an introvert doesn’t mean I can’t converse with a wide range of people, and it doesn’t mean I’m not approachable. It does mean that I get overwhelmed and exhausted though.
A routine for self-care is non-negotiable.