It’s 8 p.m. on a Friday, my freshman year of college, and a text lights up my phone.
“Are you going out tonight?”
For most students this is a normal text. However, most students don’t get this weekly text from their mother who lives 800 miles away.
What’s stranger were the texts that followed. More often than not, I told my mom I was planning on just watching a movie by myself and going to bed, and she would beg me to go out. (I should clarify that my mom was not some helicopter parent trying to live vicariously through her daughter; she was just a extrovert mother concerned with the hermit-esqe tendencies of her introvert daughter).
People try to challenge me when I tell them I’m an introvert. They point out that I perform in an improv group, have an eccentric personality (to put it delicately) and that if it weren’t for people interrupting me, I could probably talk for hours. All of this is true.
I am wicked shy in unfamiliar social settings, though, take a long time to get comfortable around new people (we’re talking months) and love nothing more than spending time by myself.
It’s kind of like Jekyll and Hyde, if Jekyll and Hyde were an insecure 18-year-old girl.
During my freshman year, it was hard not to log onto social media and see all the fun my friends from home were having at their schools. Everyone seemed to have no trouble making friends, and had the time of their lives going out every weekend — everyone except me.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go out and have the all experiences my friends were having, I wanted that very badly. I just didn’t know anyone at school well enough to feel comfortable going out. When I did go out, I was afraid of going too crazy and always back in bed by midnight.
I agonized over getting that text from my mom, because I knew she’d worry when I told her I didn’t have plans, and that just made me feel worse.
On my first night back at campus after winter break of freshman year, I watched a documentary about Big Bird and bawled my eyes out. My little emotional episode was caused by the familiar pang of homesickness, plus the fear that this would be what my second semester looked like. Sitting alone, missing my family, watching some movie that made me cry harder than it should and wishing I was more comfortable than I was.
I’m writing this for all the introverts who feel like they’re doing college wrong. It’s okay to not hit the ground running, socially. There’s nothing wrong with taking time to familiarize yourself with your new environment, getting to know the people around you a little better and becoming comfortable with this whole new life you’re living.
I took my time getting to know myself and what I was like in college before I jumped into getting to know everyone else. It was a slow process, and it sucked, but now I couldn’t be happier. I have friends that I love. I go out and feel comfortable while I do. Sometimes I stay in by myself to watch movies, and no longer receive anxious texts from my mom.
There is no “right way” to do college, so you might as well do it at your own pace.