The Life of an Introvert: Classrooms, awkward flashbacks and new outlooks — oh, my!

(Graphic by Adele Palmquist).

It has been a little while my fellow introverts!

I hope you are enjoying your first year at Laurier or those of you who return (like me) have also recovered from the previous week of festivities.

As I was saying in my last post, whether it is making friends or attending classes where you may never be called by the right name, your years at Laurier can be enjoyable — even as an introvert.

So, that T.A. never really got my name right, not a big deal! Obviously I overcame much embarrassment from my O-Week glory and I think when you are able to laugh at yourself and accept a challenge, you can do just about anything. Don’t be offended or embarrassed when you professor asks you to speak up because you’re so soft spoken. Every now and then I still speak too quietly and have to repeat myself, but most of the time the experience you gain through your years at Laurier (and a new found confidence) may have you speaking in front of your class or in smaller groups in no time!

I still have moments where I might hesitate to raise my hand to speak in the classroom, but  what can push me at times is how  the comments we make can actually create conversation in the classroom. I love hearing other opinions and whether I agree with you or not, I respect an opinion.

So maybe this will help my fellow introverts since we like to have conversations about our interests. If you are in a class that you like there is a chance you might surprise yourself and  feel comfortable in those classroom conversations.

I understand the classroom can be overwhelming for anyone whether introverted or extroverted, especially  in first year. There’s a chance you’re like me and not a large group of your friends from home came to the same school as you. There were a couple people here and there around campus I knew on a friendly basis, but there was absolutely no one in my program. If the case, don’t fret, you will continue to meet people throughout your university career!

What is another great way to meet people? Volunteering, going out to events, the list goes on! I am not telling you to jump on the bandwagon for just about every campus club–I certainly didn’t and I really didn’t start to get more curious until my second year and wasn’t really involved until my third year. Do things at your own pace. Don’t feel you have to join a club because it’s the Laurier way, do it because you want to — for yourself. Whether it is entirely for your own fulfillment or to meet different people, it is all about what makes you comfortable.

When I started volunteering, yeah, I was kind of scared shitless. I think I was most worried that people who did not know me might think I was snobby or that I wasn’t friendly. Some people may find this absurd, or some of you who are on the quiet side might know what I mean. It is a very common misconception that  introverts are snobby or as I mentioned in my previous post, that we don’t like people. I was actually worried about this because I had already experienced this in high school.

I took an art class where I knew absolutely no one. There were a lot of more outgoing people who would try small talk with me, usually about a piece I was working on in class. It went something like this:

“Hey, that’s a really cool painting.”

Or:  “Hey, that’s sooooo awesome.”

Or randomly one day when I got a haircut: “That haircut is sooooo cute!”

My response always began and ended with: “Thanks.”

Clearly, people had a hard time talking to me and they stopped standing by me, waiting for me to say anything else.

I told you in my last entry I was bad at small talk — now you know why. Introverts can have conversations, but to start one is either impossible or extremely challenging. I have gotten better, no doubt, but I struggle with people I don’t know regardless. I just hate small talk with a passion.

But this is what I meant when I said I was worried about this happening again. I knew that I didn’t dislike people and that I was actually just a quiet person who had difficulty with small talk. Even if you come up to me and take me off guard, introduce yourself and just start talking at me, sure I am caught off guard and may take me a moment to process what is going on, but if I get to know you more and we start to have an actual conversation you may find I can actually be quite sociable.

Now come up to me and ask: “How are you?”

And I will respond: “Good.”

Yes, I really do keep things…let’s just call it, ‘straight to the point’.

Sometimes I may catch myself and out of politeness ask how you are doing in return, but as I said I am really not a fan of small talk. But  ask me how a trip I went on was and what kind places I went to and there is more likely to be a conversation.

I have just accepted the fact that this is really something about me that I can’t really change. I can push myself to an extent, but I can only do what I know best: be myself. I use to be fearful of that, even entering university as I worried what others would think, even worrying if I could get involved in school activities. When I learned more about what it is to be introverted and being okay with that, I was able to go out and be social, active, while still being myself. I mean, you are reading this blog and it wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t accept the way I am.

I hope I have at least eased some of you into what introversion is and understand it based on my ‘random ramblings’.  For my next entry I will be going to fuller detail as to what introversion is for any of you who are less familiar with it. This blog is a way for me to learn too as I am certainly not an expert and am still learning myself.

Until next time, I hope some of you are at least finding some of this amusing if not helpful! If nothing else, I do like to entertain! I would also encourage feedback (thank you) and who knows, maybe there is more you would like to know! Stay tuned!

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