Many students have long envisioned and dreamt of the day that the world is opened up to us again where we can once again explore and socialise just like in the good old days. Even though we were only locked up at the start of last year, it has still felt like an eternity. However, because of the longevity of lockdown, there are many people who have been able to create a comfortable and enjoyable routine during all of the time that they have spent indoors. And now that everything starts to open up and become ‘normal’ again, some of these routines must be broken and we once more have to adapt to change, even if it is for the better. The term ‘normal’ though, can be extremely subjective. For some, ‘normal’ is working through the day and relaxing at home through the evening. For others, normal consists of constantly socialising, meeting new people and travelling to new places. If you haven’t distinguished the difference yet, then it’s that there is an introvert’s version of normal and then there’s the extrovert’s. Now for the extroverts, coming out of lockdown is the perfect scenario for them as they can visit the pubs and shops again with all of their friends. On the other hand, for the introvert, coming out of lockdown means that their routines that were just beginning to form are broken and that they are forced to go out and be amongst people again, which isn’t ideal for them.
If you’re already at university, then you’ll understand how difficult it can be for an introvert to enter an environment where you have to be outgoing and confident in order to have fun and make friends. This can be especially challenging, as for them, being around too many people drains energy and as in many halls of residences, there are lots of other students condensed into one small space. But then there’s the problem that if you don’t go out in this intimidating setting, then you’ll be confined into your university dorm for the whole day. But at the same time, you need exercise because getting physical exercise outdoors is essential towards maintaining mental and social wellbeing. Also, even if you were to try and step outside of your comfort zone and socialise, then you’d be forced into environments where you feel uncomfortable and you have a sensory overload. As a result of this, people may struggle to get to you know and won’t approach you because you’re too shy. As described, there can very clearly be many issues that arise. However, this doesn’t mean that being an introvert is a bad thing. Being an introvert means that you’re very self-aware as you mainly prioritise making yourself happy rather than trying to impress others and this means that your happiness is maintained as you’re doing what you enjoy. Furthermore, it is more possible to gain a small amount of very close friends as opposed to lots of rather distant friends. It is important to form these closer relationships when at university as more meaningful interactions can strongly contribute towards boosting your morale and self-confidence.
Therefore, due to these valuable qualities that introverts possess, it is definitely possible for you to be able to not only cope with the swift changes made to society, but also thrive in it. It’s important to acknowledge that feelings of anxiety are natural for everyone and that it is ok to expect them. It’s only by building up tolerance gently that we can move through these fears. If possible, try to do things at your own pace. This means that you won’t get intimidated or worked up through forcing yourself from doing everything too quickly. Instead, attempt to challenge yourself to try something different each day or every couple of days. It’s very easy to allow the seclusion that was necessary in lockdown to become deliberate isolation as lockdown ends. Begin with celebrating small wins and then try to build your confidence through gradually getting more involved step by step. It is also worth keeping a note of what you are achieving so that you can feel proud of your accomplishments. However, it is extremely crucial that you don’t judge yourself too harshly based on what other people are doing. In short, don’t compare yourself to others. Everybody is facing uncertainty and challenge and we have no choice but to move through it as best we can with our own coping mechanisms. Don’t let people judge you for your actions as this is a common cause for people judging themselves. Luckily though, many people recognise that people are vastly different to one another and respect the fact that some people cope better than others.
Cardiff, in particular, is a place of strong diversity and difference. Therefore, there’s no need to worry about failing to fit in because everyone takes pride in their eccentricities and prefers to stand out rather than blend in with the crowd. So there is every reason to be excited about coming out of lockdown! But ensure that you do things at your own pace and fully focus on yourself and do what makes you happy.