Exactly one week before I was set to leave for my college orientation, I broke down crying in the middle of a Pizza Hut. Half a slice in one hand and a bread stick in the other, I let the tears fall unapologetically. My mom sat in shock. After a few minutes, and perplexed glances from several other diners, she leaned in. “Why are you crying?”
When I didn’t respond, my mother’s intuition took the lead. She consoled me with reassurances: getting a higher education was a great opportunity; my family would always be there for me; and I’d be home in two months for break anyway.
But the distance didn’t really bother me. In fact, I was desperate for a change of scenery. Also, at a mere two hours away from my home in Long Island, Vassar was closer than most of the packages I order on Amazon. Of course, I’d miss my family, but in the age of smartphones and facetime, I didn’t feel nearly sad enough at the prospect to outcry the toddler sitting two booths behind me. So why was I crying?
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Offhandedly, my mom mentioned that everyone else would be in the same boat–that I wouldn’t be alone. Then it clicked. I’d never be alone. The words sunk in as a chill ran down my spine. Was I an introvert?
Thinking about it, I never quite liked the idea of always being surrounded by people. My favorite part of the day was having a morning bus to myself and using the quiet to get completely wrapped up in a book. Not to mention, my idea of a fun night was a three-hour date with Shonda Rhimes dramas on ABC. Well, the signs point to introvert.
By the time move-in day arrived, I was still sweatin’. I remained positive even when my parents left, and I could sense my beloved solitude slipping away with them. However, after three days of group-oriented events, meetings with advisors and too many meals surrounded by one-too-many people, I was ready to throw in the towel. Even though I was meeting great people, and there were always enjoyable presentations or welcoming activities to go to, I wanted nothing more than to climb into bed with my copy of The Coldest Winter Ever and reconnect with the Santiaga family–real life be damned. I was plagued with an unexpected sense of disappointment. College was laden with peak social opportunities–one big party rolling into the next, but what was I supposed to do when I didn’t even like parties? Yep, most obvious sign of an introvert.
My answer came unexpectedly one Friday night. After wrestling with the idea all day, I decided to tag along with a few friends to a party. By the time we were ready to head out, I had prepped myself with an abundance of positive vibes; this was going to be fun. My outfit was cute. There was going to be free food. What was the worst that could happen? I was a confident introvert stepping into the world of extroverts.
Flash forward one hour later, and I was standing in someone’s vomit. Another hour later, I was showered and back in my favorite plaid pajama pants and oversized sweatshirt. As I wondered whether or not to end my sad night with an even sadder microwaveable dinner (given the night’s unfortunate circumstances, I didn’t even gotten a chance to touch the food), I noticed I wasn’t the only one home. My also introvert roommates were home on a Friday night too.
We all got together, ordered food and watched whatever reality shows we happened to stumble upon. After hours spent eating, watching and talking, we realized that we all shared the feeling of being overwhelmed and appreciated the chance to have a relaxing night in. That’s when it occurred to me–I wasn’t alone, and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I wasn’t the only introvert around. There were definitely other people who enjoyed a chill night just as much as I did.
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Since then, my friends and I, a proud introvert, have made a routine out of our weekly nights in. And while I still love to lose myself in a good book or my favorite shows, I’m learning to appreciate my time with others as much as my time with myself. Good food and bad TV turns out to make very happy introverts.