I am an introvert. From my personal experience, this is how to survive as an introvert at school…

What does it mean to be an introvert? I checked the definition. It means shy person. But what does that mean? So I dug around some more for something more practical.

Generally an introvert is someone who gets energy being alone, and expends energy being with other people.  So Introverts receive energy from reflecting on their thoughts, memories and feelings.

That is not to say that introverts cannot be sociable, or don’t enjoy being with people! They can, but they also need space and time alone to recharge their batteries. Most people believe that an extrovert is a person who is friendly and outgoing. While that is likely to be true, that is not the full meaning of extroversion. By contrast to an introvert, an extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people, but loses energy and direction being alone.

Like everything else, it is easy to over simplify, but this is not a black and white. Think of introversion/extroversion as being a scale with extremes at either end. Extreme introversion or extreme extroversion can be a curse, but it is relatively rare.

It may not be immediately obvious who is an introvert at school and who is not.

Too often we tend to define phenomena by the extremes.  Consequently we think of introverts as socially-disconnected, awkward, quiet and clumsy. Quite the opposite is true. Most introverts come across as very social, but mainly in environments where they feel safe. Introverts tend to have deep friendships, though it tends to be with relatively few people. And once introverts feel it is safe to talk it is sometimes hard to stop them….  but introverts do tend to need more time to reflect on things before they talk about them…

When is all said and done, there is no doubt that I am on the introvert side of that scale. So here is how I manage to survive as an introvert at school:

Best to start by accepting what I am….

I take the good with the bad. Sure, I may have many quiet moments, and I may not always be with friends. And I am likely to have many clumsy moments when with other people, and moments when I am not in the mood to talk… All true. But I am happy.

The first rule for me is that I am what I am. I suspect I could not change it if I wanted to. But I don’t really want to.

… but I try not to use it as an excuse

On the other hand, I don’t really want to let my introversion become a real problem, so I have to find some kind of reasonable balance. I guess introverts like me will know what I mean?

Introversion will tend to push me to spend too much inside my comfort zone. And I don’t believe this is entirely healthy either, even if it may feel more comfortable. So I push myself not to avoid uncomfortable situations.

Here are some of the things I do:

Meet new people at times, and be interested in them

My natural instinct is to keep away from new people, but I try to make sure that I also push aside my feelings sometimes and try to get to know new people. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not. But I guess that is the same for everyone…

Join in sports and music bands

As long as you pick an activity that you genuinely enjoy doing, you will meet many other kids who are the same. Any other barriers will become less of an issue as you do together what you all enjoy. All the more so if you do it as a team!

Commit to Group work at school

Group work can be one of the most difficult situations for me, but more often than not it can be a good way to meet new kids.

Learning when to say Yes, and having the confidence to say No

Sometimes new situations may not be comfortable, but still I sometimes say Yes and go for it. But at other times, when I feel like there I am being pushed, or there is too much peer pressure I can have the confidence to say No.

Parties and public speaking

There are 2 areas where I still have not developed the confidence I need, so I avoid them: Parties and public speaking. But like everything else, I will force myself out of my comfort zone here to. Just not this week….

Over time I have learnt that as long as I also make time for myself to have some alone time, and time to recharge my batteries, my introvert nature does not need to become a major problem.

So I would not change myself even if I could – I enjoy my own company too much for that – but I will keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone, some of the time….

Please share your experience. I am an introvert at school but I would also  love to hear what it is like to be an extrovert…

Further reading