Barely a week after my last day of high school, I was signed up to attend my college orientation. As a self-proclaimed (and Myers-Briggs confirmed) introvert, I was dreading it. I knew I wanted to go to college, and I knew I wanted to go away to college, but that didn’t make boarding a plane by myself and spending my first two days ever away from anyone and anything familiar any less scary. But I survived those two days, and so will you. Here’s a short survival guide for any of my fellow introverts:
Don’t Blow Off Icebreaker Exercises
They seemed ridiculous to me at first, too. When they make you all sit in a circle and give a “fun fact” about yourselves or draw an index card and answer the question written on it? I hated those all throughout high school. But in high school, I knew everyone sitting in that circle and already had my group of friends. Those icebreaker exercises that always seemed so boring were suddenly helpful when I was playing them with a group of strangers. It encouraged (well, forced) me to say something about myself to a group and allowed me to hear something about everyone else. It opened lines of communication (however slightly) and allowed for common points of interest to be discussed.
Don’t Overexert Yourself
Maybe this goes without saying, but don’t force yourself into too much socialization. My orientation was a two-day event, and I did everything the first day and regretted it the second. If your orientation schedule allows for some flexibility, be mindful of your needs and take some time to recharge. I was overwhelmed with how much there was for me to do, so I ended up doing it all: various seminars (some on programs I wasn’t even interested in), the club and organization fair, a sightseeing excursion into the city — on top of the mandatory presentations. That might not seem like a lot to everyone, but it was enough to suck the life out of me by the end of the day and leave me seriously drained for the next.
Don’t Be Afraid of Orientation Counselors or Guides
They’re there for a reason. When they ask how you’re doing, they really want to know. If you’re having trouble reaching out to people or need somewhere to sit at lunch, let them know. They’re great at knowing how to start conversations with skittish freshmen and keep them going, so if you’re looking for someone to talk to but don’t know where to start, try your orientation leader.
Use Your Travel Time to Recharge
Obviously, this is only an option if your orientation requires a lot of travel time, but if it does, don’t underestimate the value of that time. Everyone handles traveling differently, so know your own comfort level and be aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re traveling alone. But don’t be afraid to use the time waiting for your plane or train to put your earbuds in and tune the world out for a little bit.
This list is in no way intended to be introvert-proof. Ultimately, the most important thing to do is listen to yourself, and be yourself. If you meet some people you really like being around but need some time for yourself, don’t be afraid to tell them. There’s no shame in it and there never should be.