Introverts aren’t ‘second best’ personalities

Carley Thieret | Student Columnist

Somer Gaines, left, a first generation college student, puts the finishing touches on her dorm room at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by hanging up a Marilyn Monroe poster in Smith Hall Dormitory on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015 in Lincoln, Neb. Somer participated in a new orientation program for first generation student prior to the star of school. (Jenna Vonhofe/Lincoln Journal Star via AP)

Somer Gaines, left, a first generation college student, puts the finishing touches on her dorm room at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by hanging up a Marilyn Monroe poster in Smith Hall Dormitory on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015 in Lincoln, Neb. Somer participated in a new orientation program for first generation student prior to the star of school. (Jenna Vonhofe/Lincoln Journal Star via AP)

I’ll never forget my first week of college. People talk about it being one of the greatest weeks of their four years. The parties, the drinking – all without the worry of class. Who needs class anyways? I mean, that is the reason we are in college right? Before coming to Duquesne, I spent my first semester of college at Kent State University, where a giant banner hung across the library that said, “You Belong Here!” Well in my first week at Kent State, it sure didn’t seem that way and for an introvert like me, it was terrifying.

The week before classes started felt like it was never ending. I spent the days brainstorming excuses on why I wouldn’t be heading to the bars or hanging out at house parties. I didn’t feel well; I was tired, but in reality it just wasn’t for me.

I am an introvert. But I am living in a college culture that makes being that way feel almost unaccepted or wrong.

I am the person who would rather stay in on a Friday night and watch Netflix or work at my job as a waitress. And I’m not just talking about every once and a while – this is an every week thing. As a freshman and sophomore, I constantly worried how I could stay in without looking like a loser or being considered lame. I constantly wrestled with the argument that if I don’t go, will I be friendless? It seemed like everyone around me was looking forward to going out, whereas I had no desire to.

According to an article published by “Psychology Today,” people classified as introverts and extroverts often share qualities possessed by the other classification. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that a person is a shy freak, or a loser, it just means that they prefer alone time. “Introverts get their energy from alone time, and enjoy spending their time either alone or in small groups of people. They prefer to focus on one task at a time and observe a situation before jumping in,” the article reads.

Experiencing a big change for the first time, you can see why the environment of college scared me so much as a freshman. College is a world in which students are encouraged to branch out of their comfort zone, work in groups, collaborate and meet friends. I have learned through my four years that despite my initial doubts from the first week of school, college can be introvert-friendly as well.

The book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” explores the relationship between introverts and extroverts and how being an introvert is not a bad thing. The author Susan Cain explains something she describes as “The Extrovert Ideal.” Cain explains that extroverts, for example, are rated as smarter, better looking, more interesting and more desirable as friends. Introversion, on the other hand along with its sensitivity, seriousness and shyness is now a second-class personality trait, viewed somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.

It isn’t uncommon for introverts, especially new college freshmen, to feel overwhelmed by the amount of outgoing people surrounding them. But the truth is, as Cain revealed in her novel, even most extroverts possess the qualities of an introvert, and vice versa. People shouldn’t view introverts as second best or anything less than extroverts because of their personality characteristics. There are plenty of successful introverts: Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks and J.K. Rowling, just to name a few.

This first week might have been rough as a college freshman – mine sure was. There’s more to college than going out, spending every waking moment with your roommate and floor mates and constantly having to adapt to this culture that society believes is college.

I have learned through my semester at Kent state and two and a half years at Duquesne that college is about creating your own experiences to fit your own specific personality type. For the introverts out there, Duquesne is a great campus to take walks, explore the wonderful city of Pittsburgh and sit down on a bench and crack open a good book. I’ve learned a lot in my four years of college, but one of the biggest lessons has been embracing the introvert inside of me.

 

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