Check on your introverted friends every once in a while

By Clay Thompson | Intern

Being a college student, one of my main concerns isn’t tests, exams, papers or projects. Although those are all still concerning to me, what has bothered and perplexed me most about my college experience is social interaction.

Now, those who know me well will attest that I am not a “social butterfly.” Since starting college, though, I have made attempts to reach out and meet new people and go to events. Freshman year at Baylor, however — due to COVID-19 — made it to where events were difficult to attend.

My family recently moved back to Texas, but when I started college here, I was from California. I was an out-of-state student attending a college over 1,000 miles away from my home. Combine that with my inherent introverted, bookish, academically-inclined personality, and it was a perfect mixture for loneliness, isolation and depression. Those feelings still persist to this day, despite vast improvements to socialization on campus.

Workloads and jobs don’t help to add free time to students’ schedules, but in my life specifically, they can be a huge obstacle when it comes to going out or hanging out with friends. However, I have gotten better at making time — or, rather, “forcing myself” out of my shell — to try and be a more outgoing person. I’m doing this because it’s important to work hard and have fun. College is supposed to be a time when we find out who we are, and if we are just indulging one side of ourselves, how can we ever discover our complete self?

However, it’s not just the responsibility of the introverts to make an effort socially. In these changing times, one person cannot be making all the effort to be social. Socializing, in and of itself, is a component made up of multiple people.

For those who are more outgoing, be sure to try and at least be kind to students who are not outgoing. For those with friends who are introverted, be sure to reach out when you can, make sure they are OK and ask them to hang out. Believe me, they will often say yes, even if that is not true. Without being too forceful, try to get them to go out when it seems they have minimal risk to what they consider “essential work.” Be sure to not give up on them if they push back. I cannot speak for everyone, but I’m personally a very stubborn person when it comes to prioritizing my work; however, I’m also always appreciative of the effort my friends make to reach out. It makes me feel seen and not so alone, so even the effort can be important too.

I am not saying all of this to accuse everyone of lack of practice. Rather, I am saying this as a reminder to both introverted students and extroverted students: remember to make the effort, because when socializing becomes more complicated like it is now, it requires effort on both sides to make a social life work.

Speaking from experience, I know what it’s like to feel like you are alone, but I keep pressing on to reach out to friends and meet new people. Even if people think it makes me look “weird” or “desperate,” I will keep doing so, because it is what is best for my social, mental and emotional health. It is always important to remember to balance work and fun, and for college students, it’s crucial.