The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

The plight of a college introvert

graphic+by+Krista+Jaworski+17
graphic by Krista Jaworski ’17

 

To stall or socialize?

I spent what I was told would be my first real taste of college life sitting alone in an empty bathroom stall.

It was a peaceful retreat I’d allowed myself after giving up on the blaring, wild, and questionably damp conference room-turned club that was the orientation Black Light Dance (BLD). This night was the final celebration capping off a weekend of introductions, fun facts, and icebreakers—and I was completely drained.

Tugging at my neon shirt and fixing my hair for the fourth time in the mirror, I wondered how long I could get away with lingering here before I’d have to put on my game face and step back into a scene that left me feeling completely out of place.

As an introvert, this feeling is something I was used to. And it’s one that I would experience plenty more times throughout my college career in plenty of different ways.

For those who consider themselves to be introverted, it can be difficult to feel comfortable in, let alone thrive in, environments that demand constant social interaction or that treat outspokenness as a measure of worth.   

Social aspects aside, being outgoing seems to play a significant part in finding success in college. Seminar courses require that students take active and vocal roles in classroom discussion, and participation grades further enforce the connection between speaking up and making the mark.

Even outside the classroom, networking and career opportunities rest on levels of extraversion, poise, and confidence that don’t come easily to some. And what is the Career Fair if not an introvert’s nightmare—a wall-to-wall enclosure of bustling business professionals all waiting to be dazzled by your personality and winning small talk.

It’s not practical to expect the world to change around me to make these challenges easier. Ultimately, I know that putting my shyness to the test is part of the learning experience and is one of the reasons why I came to college. But feeling like you must change yourself or push back against who you are in order to keep up and get ahead can be defeating. It means that these hiding-in-the-bathroom, praying-for-composure moments are not too uncommon, even now.

But luckily, while being at college has put me in a position of continually confronting my own introversion—in classes, social situations, and career events—it’s also given me the most understanding people who I could ever ask for.

Through all the struggles, I’ve been lucky to discover “my people”—even some who share my aversion to team building exercises and dancing with strangers. When talking to my roommates, I discovered that all three of us were guilty of hiding away during the BLD to collect ourselves in the quiet safety of that second floor Campion bathroom. That’s one unbreakable bond.

With each other, and in our time here, we’ve found assurance that while introverts are often pushed into situations or environments we don’t necessarily feel cut out for, the fears that we experience are nothing compared to the strength in realizing we aren’t alone.

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