College is often associated with raucous parties, large friend groups, fun, and new experiences. At Arcadia, social gatherings can be found anywhere, whether it be a party or a group of friends lazing on the green. Students flow in and out of the Commons all day and, even late at night, the laughter of students on a midnight stroll reverberates throughout campus. Bingo nights, club events, fairs, and more are commonplace, allowing students to mingle nearly every day of the week.
There’s always something exciting and socially stimulating to do. But what about the introverts, the wallflowers who are uncomfortable in social scenes or get drained around others?
I came to Arcadia having been in online school since seventh grade. I suffer from severe anxiety and depression, making social situations draining and difficult, which made entering college exciting, yet daunting. I wanted to put myself out there, but my introversion made me feel like I’d miss out on all the “typical” college experiences.
Now, as a sophomore, I’ve discovered that my time in college can be just as fulfilling without partaking in weekly parties and gatherings. If you’re shy like me, here are a few tips for low-stress socializing.
1. Be open to new things, but find what you really love to do.
I’m not saying to never get out of your comfort zone. I pushed myself to go to a few parties, and they were definitely interesting. But you don’t have to party to have the “true college experience.” The small, intimate gatherings in a friend’s suite with music and snacks or having an intense session of Dungeons and Dragons were way more fun than being packed into a suite common room with a bunch of people shouting over music. Everyone has a different definition of what they find fun, and college is a great time to discover that. There’s no need to feel bad about it, or feel like you’re missing out by not partying.
2. Take part in campus events, especially during the first week of either semester.
The events I had to attend during the first week of Orientation were my saving grace. Despite experiencing crippling anxiety that makes me freeze up in front of people, everyone at these events had something in common: We were freshmen who had no idea what we were doing. At an event in the gym, we were forced to line dance and participate in group bonding activities, all of which made the introverts uncomfortable. I clung to the same three people who seemed just as confused as I was, and we embraced it and danced together. While I usually don’t know what to say to people, we were able to talk about how weird the experience was and build a friendship off of that. Then I made friends with their friends, and so on. One year later, we’re all still friends, stemming from that time we bonded over being scared freshmen at an event.
Basically, chances are, when you go to a campus event, someone else will be just as into it (or put off by it) as you are. Introverts attract one another—bond over that!
3. Check out some introvert-approved spots on campus.
As much as I enjoyed my new friends, I love being alone. So, I figured out the best spots on campus to unwind and be by myself. While the Easton Cafe is bustling with activity during lunchtime, it winds down in the evening, and the pond is a perfect place to sit by and relax without worrying about human interaction. The Knight Hall lounges are often unoccupied, too, and make for a perfect study spot. One of my favorite places on campus and a haven for introverts is the Pit, an affectionate term for the wooded area behind Taylor Hall, past the parking lot. The shade of the trees and various benches make it a perfect, idyllic place to be. Plus, you might see some deer, too!
Realizing I wasn’t alone and utilizing these tips helped me a lot, and they can be applied online! That is even important online, where you can engage without pressure. I applied for GoodKnights and the LOVE Pilot Program this semester, as well as Society for Castle Restoration (SCR). In my class Zoom chats, I comment on what my classmates are saying and compliment them if they have a cool background. And I try to attend any events that I can. I have the best of both worlds. Since I live close to campus, I sometimes drive over and enjoy the solace it provides.
Being an introvert is often looked down upon. But fear not. You might be shy or prefer your own company, but a rewarding college experience awaits you.