“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” – Stephen Hawking
For as long as I can remember, I have been an introvert. I am not shy, in fact, I have a lot to say. My mind is wildly imaginative, but I somehow always found it hard to speak out loud. It takes a long time for me to make connections with people. Small talk is a nightmare, but I will happily chat about the meaning of life for hours.
Hi, I am Diparati, from India. Currently, I am pursuing my MSc. In Human Computer Interaction from the University of Bath, maybe because I find it easier to interact with computers compared to other human beings!
You can imagine, for a girl like me, uprooting my existing life from my home country and starting a new life in an alien country has been a whole new level of difficult. If you’re an introvert yourself, you know that this world is not always an introvert friendly one. People are always talking about everything and nothing, they are going out clubbing with people they just met and you’re sitting there like '________'.
It hasn’t been easy. But, in the past semester, I have realised a few things which have helped me navigate through this change and today I thought of sharing those things with you. If you consider yourself an introvert and you’re about to take a big leap of faith to change your life like I have done – this is for you.
Do it. Take that leap. The best things in life are not the best because they are easy, they are the best because they are worth it. Congratulate yourself on taking this decision to challenge yourself and to get out of your comfort zone and take that leap.
In the beginning, it will be a lot. Everybody will be in a rush to make friends, going out together, you’ll be seeing a lot of people quickly forming groups, exchanging social media handles, going out, putting up stories on Instagram about how awesome their new life suddenly is. Breathe. It’s okay. You know this is how the world functions in today’s day and age, this is nothing new.
What you should remind yourself time and again, is that not everything is real. The pictures they put up where they look like they are having the time of their lives, do not portray their true happiness. Everyone you see in those pictures is just as confused and unsure of their new lives, they are just trying their best to make sense of it the best way they can. So, you must to start trying to make sense of your new life the best way you can too.
You don’t need a lot of friends. In fact, you might function better if you find just one or two quality friends who you can actually make meaningful connections with instead of hanging out with a large group where you don’t really know anyone as well as you would like to. So do not waste your time and energy (and in some cases, money) on experiences you know you won't end up liking, just because others are doing it or they are telling you to. I have been there and regretted it. Never again.
The one thing that you might have to do is take initiative. The University of Bath provides an opportunity to sign up on the Umii app which matches people with similar interests – maybe try finding people there who you can vibe with. I for one am more comfortable texting over talking, so chatting on the app is one of the most perfect ways to get a conversation going for me.
The university and the various groups and societies here host regular events. Sign up for the ones aligning with your interest – for me, art and craft is the way to go. Even if you don’t find anyone to go to those with, go by yourself, and you might find someone like you who’s there on their own and you might end up making a connection.
The university provides a lot of opportunities to expose yourself to the outside world, grab onto the ones that you like. Your first instinct might be doubtfulness but get over that initial barrier and get yourself signed up. People signing up for similar opportunities are likely to have similar priorities as you and you might end up making connections there.
Take up a part time job if your studying allows time. It doesn’t have to be one where you deal with lots of people every day, like a barista, if you don’t want. It can be as simple as a Student Ambassador or an Administrative Assistant where most of the work happens via your laptop. This will keep you busy, gives you opportunities to interact with people one-on-one and of course, earn you some extra money.
In your lectures, speak up. You have a question, raise your hand, and ask. Your introvert self might try to convince you that it is a stupid question and you’ll get laughed at, but don’t listen. If I am being honest, the blunt and simple truth is – nobody cares. Everybody is too busy handling their own problems right now to judge you based on your actions, so why not?
Take one small step, every day. It is difficult, believe me, I know. But it gets easier. With time, you will find one or two friends who will make your new life better. And until then, thank God you love your own company, right?