What's an Extroverted Introvert to do?
January 4, 2015 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Yes, I'm literally asking for basic social tips and tricks.

I've come to consider myself as something of an extroverted introvert. In the past three months or so, I've decided to transfer universities mid-sophomore year, successfully completed the fall semester, and severed ties with a handful of toxic people who served no purpose other than to stunt my overall ~*life potential*~ and whatnot.

I've always been good at socializing... on the surface. I can verbal volley, engage, at least *pretend* to care and listen, respond thoughtfully when I so choose, etc etc. But I have next no to interest in making meaningful relationships with most people.

Ironically enough, I've been dating the same boy for 4+ years, something I partially accredit to our sharing a lot of the same social inclinations, thank god.

So now, I'm moving away from George Washington University (in Washington, DC) and a social environment where everybody and their mother (both literally and figuratively) was highly self-absorbed, self-important, and just disgustingly neurotic and semi-sociopoathic. I'll instead be moving to Temple University (in Philly), a place where I have neither a clue as to what what the social/academic/general environment looks like, nor a reasonable amount of interest in/hope of making meaningful friendships.

What can I do to combat this? I'm semi-intelligent when I apply myself, but I'm lazy and have been working through some Psychological Shit, so I'm pretty tired and confused a lot of the time. Should I just stick to my guns and keep to myself, or should I just throw myself into different things?

Mind you, this is all haphazardly written as I simultaneously attempt to communicate with my new roommate and not hyperventilate to death.
posted by ourt to Human Relations (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I have next no to interest in making meaningful relationships with most people.
That is pretty much universal. Almost no one wants meaningful relationships with most people. Most of us want a few meaningful relationships, with a very small number of people. And to get those, we have to find the people that we have that rare, precious 'click' with, and in order to do so, we need to get to know a bunch of people.
Because it's a numbers game. If you meet hardly anyone, the chance of getting a 'click' gets vanishingly small.

You say that you don't have interest in/hope of making meaningful friendships. Those are very different things. Which is it?
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:33 PM on January 4, 2015 [6 favorites]

Stop typing and look at your new roommate. This is the person who can tell you where the best coffee is and where to go and not go after dark. Don't worry about finding a soul mate right away, that takes time. Right now, focus on finding the things that will make your new place feel like home, like a favorite restaurant or bookstore. There will be people there. Go to the new place at roughly the same time every day for two weeks. Become a regular. Social interactions will follow.
posted by myselfasme at 2:44 PM on January 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

So, I was in a similar mental state in college/law school -- I wanted to be an outgoing person, but had basically no idea how to socialize; I was also in a serious relationship for college years 1-3 and then again for all of law school. I knew I'd avoid pretty much everything unless I was actually obligated to go to it. In college, I joined a sorority (it was The Thing To Do at my school; your school might have student government, a philanthropy group, or another club that is more social-based rather than interest-based). Then, I ran for (and was elected) one of the recruitment officers of my sorority -- this meant I'd be obligated to go to (and organize) a ton of events. Not only that, but people would know who I was and have something to talk to me about -- it would seem like I was outgoing to everyone, despite by inner introvert. In law school, I did essentially the same thing -- I joined a journal my second year and then ran for the social coordinator position my third year, which meant I was in charge of organizing happy hours. Again, I'd be forced to attend the events (I wouldn't have gone otherwise), have to encourage others to go, I'd have name recognition and seem "social," and would have a conversation topic to fall back on at these events.

I was always worried about attending socializing events because what if I was too early? or I didn't know anyone? or everyone was already in groups? or no one was there other than the other two weirdos? Being forced to go because I was the event organizer made all of these concerns disappear. I made a ton of acquaintances/contacts in both cases, and some deeper friendships (that are still strong today) from my sorority. I am also waaaay more comfortable in social situations now (though this is due to a variety of things).

Basically ---> commit yourself to a situation where you have to fake it til you make it.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:44 PM on January 4, 2015 [9 favorites]

You identified what makes your old school toxic for you....and have transferred to a school you don't seem to know anything about. Why? I mean, not why would you leave the old school, but why transfer to a place you don't seem to know anything about?

I'm a socially adept introvert, and I survived and even thrived in college by throwing myself into a small number of time-consuming and socially tight activities (glee club and saving the world via political activism).

Talk to your roommate. When you are home and not cramming for something (which you should do elsewhere anyway), leave your room door open and say hey when people go by. Investigate student health services for depression/anxiety screening and treatment, because oh boy you wouldn't be the only one and why keep yourself more miserable than necessary?
posted by rtha at 2:47 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Some clarifications:

First and foremost, I'm definitely seeking treatment both now and have plans to arrange for them at this school, as well.

As for the transfer, it makes a lot more financial and academic sense - mostly academic. I'm a Journalism major and GW didn't have much of the editorial/feature news aspect I so greatly gravitate toward. Plus, Temple has Tyler, and I'm looking to minor in Art.

Also, it's so close to home for me (I live about 1.5 hours out of Philly) that I'll be able to go home more, see more of my friends and family who are in the tristate area.
posted by ourt at 2:55 PM on January 4, 2015

You're really down on yourself and down on others. I bet treatment for depression and anxiety will help with both. In the meantime, try to be mindful and patient with yourself and others. Look for the interesting thing about everyone.

At the same time, give yourself permission to avoid/ignore/get out of things you don't enjoy. You don't have to keep talking to people if you're bored and just nodding along, you can excuse yourself. You don't have to spend time socializing with people you don't respect or like.

If you go home frequently, you probably won't make many good friends at college, and that's okay. Just be aware that it's a choice you're making.
posted by momus_window at 5:01 PM on January 4, 2015

If you've previously been around self absorbed people then I can see how you'd develop outgoing-but-shallow social skills.

Now that you're in a new environment, try lowering your guard. Let people be nice to you and believe they are sincere. Soon enough your heart will kick in and you will care back & be reciprocating. For the rest just be yourself. Good luck.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:45 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

You'll get through this but only if you change your mindset. You seem very angry and down on other people. I know a few kids your age at GW and can 100% guarantee you GWU actually isn't a place where everybody and their mother (both literally and figuratively) was highly self-absorbed, self-important, and just disgustingly neurotic and semi-sociopoathic.

That's more on you than them, you realize. And that's fine. Switching schools will work but you really need to switch your mindset. Short term, it's easier to dislike everyone because then you don't get hurt by people but in the long run, you can see it doesn't really work out.

There are going to be a lot of great people anywhere, but you need to talk to them. People like making friends. Hang out with classmates. Go to shows.

Go out for a drink with your roommate. Things will get better, I promise.
posted by kinetic at 3:02 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

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