.When I graduated high school, everyone around me constantly told me to prepare for the best four years of my life—college. Seriously, sometimes it sounded like college was just one big, stress-free party.
But as an introvert, college would also consist of some of the most difficult years I had ever faced.
Heading into my freshman year, I moved into an apartment off-campus. All my old friends moved out of town to attend other schools. This left me with no other choice than to live with randomly selected roommates. I remember trying to convince myself that “everyone does it” and wondering, “how bad can it really be?” I found out that living on my own presented challenges galore. However, living with people I had nothing in common with provided an even worse headache. As a neat and quiet person, peace and cleanliness were a must. My roommates, however, partied every night and never cleaned. Any time I attempted to discuss the dirty dishes piled in the sink or the bags of trash cluttering the kitchen floor, they all denied it and blamed each other. This left me to deal with cleaning the entire apartment so it didn’t turn into a pigsty.
Outside of my apartment, things weren’t much better.
Going to parties as an introvert always felt uncomfortable to me. I never felt the need or desire to go crazy or get wasted (like many other freshmen I knew). On the rare occasion when I did go to a party, I matched the wall-flower stereotype. I stood in the corner trying to make small talk and driving everyone home at the end of the night. I knew how to socialize and make friends. And somehow, I never felt the urge to dance on a table or drink until I reached unconsciousness. Because of this, many of my peers labeled me “unsocial,” which resulted in several lost friendships.
And when it came time for class, I realized I had a hard time making my voice heard among so many other talented students.
I’ll never forget the exciting, yet overwhelming feeling of stepping onto campus and watching thousands of students rushing in different directions. My self-conscious levels skyrocketed because everyone around me seemed to tell I was a freshman, but I just wanted to blend in. I had chosen English as my major because I knew I loved reading and writing. However, all the English classes consisted heavily of discussion. My English classmates and I spent most of our classes talking about various topics. Each semester we wrote one or two essays. The introvert in me decided to sit in the back of the classrooms and refuse to speak up. Needless to say, I did not get A’s in those classes.
Despite the miserable hardships I faced during my freshman year, I learned many lessons and took classes that will impact me for years.
I also had the opportunity to join a variety of clubs and meet fascinating people. The expectations for what my first year in college would look like ended up resulting in feeling like I failed to get the true “college experience”. Looking back now, I know that every single person will have a different experience in college. That is perfectly acceptable. To the incoming freshman, introverted or not: college offers a great environment to have fun, but also to learn responsibility. Go to your classes and speak up, make some solid friendships (quality over quantity) and don’t be afraid to dance on a table every once in a while. You won’t regret it, I promise.