As the end of August approached, students of all personalities were putting on their figurative armor and preparing to dive into a social breeding-ground: the first week of college.
As they settled into their new home, they were approached with endless social opportunities: block parties, game nights, and even floor meetings. At each of these events, the expectation was to introduce yourself and perhaps tell one or two things about yourself. Although the majority of these events are optional, students of all personalities most likely felt the pull to participate in order to make friends and not be considered “anti-social.”
Unfortunately, after a week of “summer-camp,” as Welcome Week is often called, many students find themselves over-stimulated or overwhelmed. This incredible amount of socialization tends to highlight the differences between personality types, especially introverts and extroverts, who are famous for their social differences. However, when both groups learn to harmonize with each other, especially in the first week of college, the benefits can be extraordinary.
Let’s begin by looking at the first week of college through the eyes of an extrovert. Since extroverted people know the positive effects socializing has on their mood, they may try to make an appearance at every social event that happens around campus in the first week of school. However, as we all know, this is not possible – unless you have a teleportation device or do not require sleep. This type of behavior can and will take a toll on the human body. Even if you feel mentally energized by social situations, your physical body can only handle so much running around.
Introverts, too, often try their best to socialize in order to make friends and establish a social position among friends, but become burnt out from too much social interaction. Introverts have a much lower need for social contact, and become satisfied more quickly. As a result of socializing beyond that limit, they can become tired or disconnected and require regrouping. However, in an effort to avoid the “anti-social” label, introverts may try to go against their natural tendencies and be as extroverted as they can, wearing them out further.
Many times, introverts find themselves wishing they were more extroverted, especially during the first week of college, because it seems like an “easier way to make friends and get others to like you,” according to the National Association for Campus Activities.
Due to the contrast between extroverts and introverts, it may seem impossible to reconcile the two into successful friendship or general cooperation, but people of each category actually have the ability to complement and better each other.One vital tip for accomplishing this harmony is not to think of your personality as better or worse than another. Susan Cain, Author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, dedicated her entire book to fighting the “extrovert ideal,” a theory which notes our society’s inclination toward people with extroverted personalities. It is important to realize that all personalities have strengths and weaknesses. They are certainly different, but one is no better than another.
The second tip is to know the social interests of other personalities. When asked in a survey which personality type they identify with and what their favorite part of college has been, first-year Messiah students of each type answered clearly within the typical tendencies. Extroverts noted that their favorite part was “meeting new people” and participating in “activities on campus, like a movie or a game.” On the other hand, the introvert identifiers leaned heavily toward independence-type values like the “freedom to do what you want” and “managing my own schedule.” This may be a challenging obstacle for people of opposite personality types when attempting to find an activity they both enjoy. However, mixing all types of activities, whether social or independent, makes for an extremely healthy friendship, as both begin to engage in an activity they may not have chosen on their own.
Finally, understand the way each personality makes friends. Because they complement each other extremely well, it is pretty easy for extroverts and introverts to form potentially long-lasting and healthy relationships. Extroverts, on one hand, are great at getting to know many people very quickly, granting them the common title of “social butterfly.” This is because extroverts enjoy establishing a broad social pool. Introverts, on the other hand, are often mistaken as unsocial or unfriendly because they are much more choosey about the people they invest time in. Of course, neither strategy is a fool-proof way of making friends. In fact, the best way may be to put the two together. The extrovert would most easily initiate conversation and get to know the introvert, and if the introvert is further interested, his or her strength will lie in keeping the relationship close for the long-term.
Ultimately, with the right attitude, relationships between differing personalities can have an extremely positive outcome. It is almost important to remember that not everyone exists in polarities, but many lie somewhere throughout the spectrum. In fact, there are many in-between personalities, like ambiverts, introverts with extrovert tendencies, and vice versa. As a result, there is no perfect plan for making friends or knowing someone else’s personality type. However, these basic tips can help you understand people who are clearly different than yourself – an important skill to have, in the first week of college life and beyond.
Never fear getting to know someone of a different personality type than yourself, and certainly do not neglect your own needs – whether you identify as an extrovert, introvert, ambivert, or otherwise. As Susan Cain advises, “Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”