A whorl of chaotic colours, blacks and indigos, fluorescent yellows and oranges, pulsating at the edges of your eyes. A cacophony of shouts and honks drowning out the sound of your own breathing. The smell of greasy hotdogs, sunscreen, and cologne suffocating you. Arms and elbows and hands tangled with others as people nudge past you to get to one of the many fast food restaurants, shops, or stores stretching along either side.
Times Square, a force with which to be reckoned in all its sights, scents, sounds, and touch. While some people can handle the hustle and bustle of this chaotic mass, others are overwhelmed by the amount of people, scents, and sounds crushing them and have to leave the vicinity from time to time to catch their breath.
Similarly, after socializing with other people for a period of time, introverts need some “alone time” to recharge because they get drained from the activity. Some get drained after a couple of hours, others after several hours.
But, what is an introvert?
Well, the Oxford dictionary defines an introvert as a “a shy, reticent person.” However, many people lean towards another definition, which is documented in the ever-reliable source, Urban Dictionary. This dictionary defines an introvert as “a person who is energized by spending time alone.”
I am both: I sometimes get shy around strangers, and I like spending time alone.
At first glance, “introversion” might seem like the antonym of “getting involved.” I used to believe that. Being around people drains me mentally, and frankly, I sometimes get way too nervous around strangers. How could I ever get involved with these traits of mine?
However, I was determined to join new groups, so I targeted some that accommodated my introversion. Hopefully these tips will help you as they helped me in finding groups I’m capable of handling and currently loving:
Join a group that specializes in one of your hobbies.
You won’t have to break the ice and prod strangers to discover their interests. By joining a hobby-specific group, you’ll already know the other members have the same interest as you. And trust me, it’s much easier talking to strangers and feeling energized around them when you’re gushing about the same thing. Maybe you’re into Argentine tango, Harry Potter, choir, magic, or in my case, books.
I joined Bookends, U of T’s book club, because even though the idea of talking in a small group setting terrifies me, I know I’ll be much more at ease knowing we’re all book lovers discussing books.
Join a group that does work you consider interesting.
I joined the Hart House Literary and Library Committee because even though I know nothing about planning and executing events, the idea of doing so for literary events thrills me.
So consider joining a group that’s doing something you’re passionate about, whether it centers around academic activism, mental health, animal rights, poverty, or the environment.
Even though you may feel nervous or drained around the group during its meetings or its events, you’ll be doing something you believe in, and that will make the experience easier on you.
Join a group with a balance of interactive and independent time that suits your preferences.
I decided to join a student publication group called The Spectatorial – a group that publishes journals and blogs focusing on speculative fiction – as one of their copy-editors. As a copy-editor, I’m able to contribute to a super cool publication all from the sanctuary of my room. There are other ways to get involved without working with others in-person, such as helping out as a layout designer, artist, or writer for other publications.
Of course, you’d want to eventually push yourself out of your comfort zone and join groups that require you to engage with others in-person, since it improves your teamwork skills, but if you’d like to take baby steps forward, this is the way to go.
Our very own Life @ U of T Video Crew also documented the fair!
Being an introvert isn’t a bad thing. It’s a part of who you are, and you should embrace it. However, it shouldn’t stop you from doing what you’d like to do either. So if you’re looking to get involved, consider the tips above, and make the best of your Times Square!
What are your tips on getting involved as an introvert? Let me know in the comments below or through @lifeatuoft on Twitter!