I am going to start out by saying:
I do not like college. College is not for me. I love learning, and the education side is something I love. It’s the perfect opportunity to get out of my own head and the fear of judgement seems to melt away. Not to mention, being in a room full of people who share the same passion as you is so satisfying.
A lot of people understand the struggles of being an introvert at college, but I think being a student-athlete is what makes it even harder. Most of the time, when you come to a new school, and become a new member of a team, that team (or most of it) becomes your family– your best friends. But when that’s not the case, you are practically screwed.
Now I’m not saying that I don’t get along with my team, we are great teammates and everything is perfectly fine. I just find that I am not the majority when it comes to personality types– socially, outside a team environment.
And that is a problem. Especially with Division 1 schools, you spend a lot of time together practicing together, competing together, and even living together. But that’s not the problem. The problem is, because you spend all that time with them, you don’t have time– especially people who are socially inept like me– to make friends outside of the athlete world.
To put this dramatically, it is a pretty vicious cycle. It’s determined you don’t fit in with your teammates, so you begin to look elsewhere– but you don’t have the time (or the courage when you do have time) to make friends there– and you’ve been officially removed from your team when it comes to social events. Which isn’t a bad thing! They have built their connections with the people they enjoy spending time with, so why would they pay attention to anybody else, especially when they aren’t what they look for in a friend.
Let’s look at an example of the majority. One of my best friends, Andrea, did the same exact thing I did– transfer to a different college to play golf (in Ohio as well!) So she packed her things, drove across the country, and was dropped into this brand new team she had never met before. However, she got “lucky”, and I have never seen her so happy. She was “lucky” enough to be that majority and get along with this completely random set of people that she’s force to see everyday– like a house on fire.
Another example (and anomaly in my eyes): I will forever be shocked at how quickly and tightly the three sophomores on my team got along with each other. I would have bet money that they had known each other– well– before college. I could not imagine what it would be like if they didn’t either, especially since they all live together and they are such big personalities. I envy that connection, and that ability to connect with so many people so quickly.
It’s hard not being in that majority! You’re stuck in the middle, and especially if you move away from home, you can’t go back to your friends before college or your family.
I have advice for people who struggle with this like I do. While there might not be very many, this is a super super small niche. Something that I have noticed that helped is to really take advantage of that comfort zone while in your classes. I don’t know if this is the same for other majors. I am a journalism major, so we all like to talk, unless you are me and you like to hide behind a computer– everyone is pretty easy to talk to is what I mean. I have connections in each of my classes, but it always ends once those classes end.
Push yourself. Make plans with these people. I probably should not be the preacher of this, because I am not very good at it. For people like us, that takes a lot of courage and work to remove your brain out of your head to get it out of your way and be heard. To be annoying and get noticed. Yes, extroverts, it is harder for us than you think.
If you can’t be the one to make the plans, just keep talking and acknowledging people in your class and theirs a chance that they’ll say something. (That’s what happened to me!)
You probably went out of state because you got a sweet scholarship anyway– so think about the beautiful, free education you are getting! Enjoy being a part of a team and compete your butt off at whatever sport you happen to be doing. At the end of it all, it’s just college. After this, you have THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. No boundaries, and the freedom to surround yourself with people just like you. You can hand pick whoever you want to spend your life with.
This (blogging) is my version of socializing–it’s not much but it’s a start. Be better than me, introverts!!