Friday, September 13, 2019

Extroversion Is Not the Only Way

The first weeks of college can be very lonely for students who are shy. From Washington Square News:
No matter their school or origin, almost every college student will learn about isolation at the beginning of their college career. Starting college is hard for introverts, and extroverts can also flounder when not constantly surrounded by people. The new city screams at us to socialize at any cost. But as confusing as our first year is supposed to be, this start of a new chapter shouldn’t need to be painful. Perhaps the most important lesson a first-year can learn is to appreciate their own company, and that solitude can be valuable.

We often seek the comforting presence of a friendly face. The school I attended from seventh to ninth grade forbade students from staying indoors during recess. Sitting alone in the high school cafeteria is the textbook definition of an ostracized loner. I desperately clung to my friend group formed from the convenience of seeing each other daily, even though we all had only one thing in common. Companionship was worth more than anything else in the world. 

But constant company is not always attainable, and there will be plenty of times in our lives where we are alone. We can review our goals and aspirations, refocus in the present and breathe. Being alone can be helpful, productive and calming, and we should shake off the conditioning that constantly reminds us that we need to have a best friend right here right now, when the first week has barely passed.

Welcome Week is the perfect environment to examine the social conditioning that exclaims that a functioning human must be extroverted and sociable to survive and for some of us, it can be exhausting. I packed my schedule full, trying to squeeze in as many performances and socials as possible, then took a step back. What was I so desperate for? We meet a stranger, make small talk for five minutes, then forget all about each other. (Read more.)

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