In high school, I took AP Psychology. Today, I know nothing about psychology. Maybe that’s unfair. The class didn’t feel completely worthless. Psych gave me an excuse to finally take a Myers-Briggs test. Official, too, with scantron slips and official websites diluting all 20 of us into four cute little letters. We needed to tally how much of each letter we got to get our score. The letters making up the test results ended up neck and neck, but the first result came as clear as possible.
13-1, I (Introverted)
Not a surprise. I spent enough Friday nights alone in my room to know I’m not a people person without needing science to intervene. What Myers-Briggs did provide me? Anxiety. In months I start college. How could I deal with meeting friends, going out or any social situation? Two years into college, I finally hold the answer. You ready, introverts of the world? Get ready for the foolproof guide to navigating the collegiate world as an introvert. You can thank me later:
TIP #1 (of 1) – Accept it, you’re weird.
Yeah, that’s it. I promise, there’s an explanation. You know those Choose Your Own Adventure books? Where a choice presented itself and you needed to flip to a certain page to play out your choice? Then you find out the choice you made resulted in the “bad” ending and you go back and try again until you get the “satisfactory” ending?
Most of my high school and early college life I just tried to find that ending. I tried all the paths. I spent all my money on hockey and movie tickets, I wistfully hoped people I barely talked to would spontaneously ask me to hang out and I haggled the few clubs I participated in to keep myself busy. I did it all. Time and time again, though, I found myself back in my room each night, eternally uncomfortable in the shade of the, “What should I be doing right now?” question that loomed over me.
Swiping through my Instagram stories gave me social media’s answer to the question.
The episode of the show playing on my laptop to pass the time gave me Hollywood’s. Different answers with a key consistency. How should I spend this time? Not by what I did at that moment. Not inside. Not alone. There’s a happy ending here, though. Eventually, through the aid of friends, family and a helpful global pandemic, I realized my issue didn’t come from introversion, but the refusal of it.
It might not be that simple. However, that’s a good way to start. It feels difficult, though, to come to terms with the fact that I will probably never go out more than twice a week. My introversion borders? Simply smaller than others. And that’s ok. There’s no magic solution. No guide or tips other than admitting to yourself that you’re you for a reason. You like the things you like because your brain says so and hey, they make the rules around here.
This doesn’t mean lock yourself in your comfort zone and throw away the key.
Rather don’t be afraid to, well, be comfortable there. It’ll always be there for you, so there’s no point in fretting over an extended stay. In my time spent alone from the end of high school to now, I explored my love of movies, a hobby I always wanted to pursue yet couldn’t fully embrace due to me second guessing myself at each opportunity. I only gained the bravery to do that through acceptance.
As late as my most recent month of college, I still spend nights alone in my room as others partied and “spent their time better.” However, the regrets I still harbored did little to interfere with my enjoyment. I felt comfortable knowing that yeah, this doesn’t make too much sense for someone my age, and I felt happy to know that yeah, I really don’t care about that. I sat in that Psych class unsurprised yet still wondering and worrying how in the world I could be so aggressively introverted. I still wonder and worry about it now. However, I achieved a state of satisfaction with my introversion, and I no longer fear my brain’s innate desire to be alone.