I am happy to admit that I am most certainly an introvert. Put me anywhere with "chatting" is the main activity and my soul shrivels a little on the inside. Even if I don't have to talk to anyone, sitting in a crowd of people I don't know is enough to exhaust me. These past few days have challenged me more than I ever thought they could. You see, college orientation was not built for introverts.
First, they stick you in a theater with 200 of your new classmates and best friends. Then, the overly peppy orientation leaders welcome you and lead cheers- "I'll give you one more chance... how are you really doing today??!?!?!?!!!" (insert cheering... half hearted from me).
Though I actually made a few friends from my small orientation group and from girls I forced myself to ask to sit by at breakfast in the dining hall, I still spent most of orientation feeling alone. I was surrounded by a sea of people who were (or pretended to be) extroverts. They sat at tables with people they just met, laughing away as if they had always been BFFs. They danced at the dance. They volunteered to participate in the improv show. I sat quietly with my new shy friend as we discussed the lights in the theater (she is a fellow stage manager and lover of all things tech theater).
I felt out of place. Things like this are always led by the most spirited and extroverted students and they feel the best way to make everyone feel welcome and included is to stick them in the extrovert's paradise... and the introvert's living hell. By the end of day one I felt exhausted. After going to a club fair where I was surrounded by people I didn't know, I cried. Sometimes it feels as though the world was not built for shy people, that I do not fit.
I am so happy to be home. Though actually being at college, going to classes, and making friends doesn't scare me, the four day orientation after move in day sure does. But after that, I can stop having to be who the orientation leaders and advisers insist every college student wants to be. I don't have to go to football or basketball games. I don't have to be proud to associate myself with my college mascot, I can just be proud to be a college student, a privilege few in this world get.
If only they would take everyone into consideration, make it a little more introvert-friendly, maybe I wouldn't feel so left out. I can't wait to go back and see the friends I made during preview orientation and make even more new buddies. But, I also plan on trying to leave the orientation festivities and just wander around on my own, just how I like it. Because I like being an introvert, it's how I am.
P.S. One of my favorite bloggers, Susannah Conway, is a self proclaimed introvert. She has been part of my inspiration to be happy with my hermit self. Read her take on introversion here.