Ask Abby: how to make the most of college as an introvert

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ABIGAIL PLUFF | OPINION COLUMNIST | apluff@butler.edu

Full disclosure: I am not a licensed therapist. Honestly, I am not licensed in anything whatsoever. I’m just a gal with lots of opinions who enjoys giving unsolicited advice to almost anyone around me. So, if this is adverse advice, you can’t sue me or my place of work. Sorry!

‘I don’t know how to balance my tendency towards being an introvert with what college should be. How do I reconcile the two?’ -Loyal Reader

To me, this question is concerning in a very specific way: it uses the word should. The misconception that a right and a wrong way to experience college exists is utter hogwash. And the concept that your tendency towards being an introvert impacts that in any way? Outlandish! Absolutely not!

Don’t ‘should’ all over yourself. The only thing college ‘should’ be is whatever you want; nothing more, nothing less.

The best way to have a positive college experience as an introvert is to be in touch with yourself and acknowledge that your most fulfilling moments may not come from what seems to fulfill college students in the movies.

Don’t fall into the trap that is doing what others expect from you. Do what you want, when you want, with who you want and forget what anyone else has to say.

For example, I, your resident Queen of Introverts, love to do things by myself. I love to go to the farmers market by myself, museums, restaurants; you name it, I probably prefer to do it on my own 70% of the time.

People are often a bit upset by this. They say things like ‘that seems lonely!’ or ‘don’t you want some company?’ And honestly, the answer is often no. Not always — I’m not a hermit — but often.

Things that may seem lonely for others to do alone help me recharge. They allow me to be the best, most patient and most self-aware version of myself.

I acknowledge that sometimes being an introvert in college is not the picturesque thing I paint it to be. It can feel a bit lonely sometimes watching everyone be social all the time but knowing that it’s not what you really want to do.

Because FOMO? It’s a very real thing. I’ve spent many days and nights knowing that I need alone time for my mental health, but feeling a bit down when I see my friends hanging out without me. Even when I know I’m in desperate need of caring for my innermost self, sometimes I still get nervous that I could be missing out on something.

But when you feel a bit left out, know that you can be social whenever you’re ready. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you always have to be reflecting on your innermost thoughts in a corner. Go out, but only when it feels right to you.

Try to remember, however, that you are perfectly you the way that you are, and honoring the most honest version of what you want is the best way to feel fulfilled in college. Don’t change yourself to fit into a mold of what someone else imagines you should be.

It’s okay to be an introvert, and it’s okay to be an extrovert. It’s absolutely okay to be a mix of the two. It’s okay to be anything, as long as it is an honest version of yourself.

Your college experience is yours and yours alone, and if it works for you, that’s all that matters. If you feel good, you’re doing it right.

You, my sweet little introverts, are valuable, valid and loved,

Abby

If you have a question that you’d like to see discussed in Ask Abby, feel free to contact me via email, carrier pigeon or telepathy. 

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