Being an extroverted introvert at a party school

Smiling on the outside, cringing on the inside

I’ve always been an incredibly outgoing and bubbly person, sometimes so much so that I overwhelm those around me. I’ve never been uncomfortable in front of large crowds, or people that I don’t know. Conducting myself comfortably in large social situations has always come naturally to me.

No one would ever believe me when I say that I actually am an introvert when it comes down to anything other than the basic surface interactions, but it’s the truth.

I really realized that my behavior is more like that of an introvert after my second year of college.

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Growing up, I was always one to have only a few close friends – 2 or 3. I never felt the need to become a member of large friend groups. I was happy just having a best friend to spend all my time with when I wasn’t with my family.

I’ve always been incredibly close with my family, as I have been blessed with two loving parents, and a brother who has been my best friend since we were very young. I’ve enjoyed spending time with them, even more than with my friends.

I attended private schools up until middle school, when I moved into the public school system. I immediately felt out of place my first day of seventh grade, as it seemed as though everyone had a large group of friends they’d known since they were little. Luckily, I found four girls that were willing to adopt me into their group. Those four girls ended up being my closest friends all through middle school and high school. Now, as a junior in college, I still consider two of them to be my best friends.

I had been content with the social makeup of high school – my four best friends and a handful of acquaintances I had made within the theatre department. Then college came along and I moved on to a university where I knew virtually no one. I had an incredibly difficult time making any close friends, as the process of starting over with new people seemed like an overwhelming task. I had never really partied or drank before, making it extremely difficult to get involved in the social scene at my university which revolved around large frat parties.

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Since I attend an in-state university, I went home almost every weekend. I needed to be home to feel a sense of security that I did not feel in college. I was lonely, which caused me to fall for the first guy I got to know. The relationship was draining and difficult. I found myself yearning for a female companion to talk to.

I turned to Greek life, and ended up joining a sorority the second semester of my first year. At first I loved it – always having a house full of girls to go to, social events that filled up the calendar and too many connections to know what to do with. Everyone I met first semester was incredibly surprised by my decision. “I didn’t picture you as a sorority girl,” was the most common comment I heard. I was confused by what this meant, but I really didn’t think anything of it at the time.

I lived in the sorority house my entire second year of college, and this is where I began to feel very out of place. Forced interactions became the norm as I was expected to get along with 200 girls, including many I had absolutely nothing in common with.

Every weekend brought two or three consecutive nights of partying, and my usual evenings of solitude and a good book were long gone. The only parties I truly enjoyed were those that involved dancing, so I had an activity to pass the time and avoid boring conversations with intoxicated randoms.

I felt lost, as though I was an outsider even as a member of a large organization. I craved silence and time to myself. I became good friends with a group of girls, but was never completely comfortable opening up to them on deeper levels, and was therefore considered “secretive.”

When my second year of college was over, I realized that the sorority was not the right place for me.

I felt forced to conform to the social norms of the college experience, putting myself in situations that I knew were not true to myself, but I desperately wanted to feel like I was a part of the social scene.

It is very difficult for me to trust, and therefore makes opening up a very arduous process. I prefer to have a couple close friends who I can confide in and spend time with. I have no desire to embrace a large social circle, and at first I felt wrong for feeling that way, but I have now learned to accept it and be comfortable with my decision.

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I do enjoy going out and partying, but in moderation. Some nights I would much rather relax with a good book than go out. And that is okay. I’m still the same outgoing person that I’ve always been – I can get along with anyone. But I’ve stopped forcing myself to attempt to connect with people who I don’t really like, and never will.

I may not conform to the common social behaviors of a college student, but I’m content with that. I feel as though the quality of those around you will always matter more than the quantity. The few people whom I now choose to surround myself with are those that I truly like, not just just the ones who share the superficial connection of partying. I don’t have to be the “everything girl” – the extreme extrovert. It’s completely acceptable to be just me.

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