I’m a secret introvert. There are a lot of us secret introverts out there. We’re the girls who have to really make ourselves go out and interact with other people, the girls who need alone time to recharge, and the girls who need time to think before we speak. College can be a difficult time for introverts, especially for those of us who choose to join a sorority. Imagine wanting and fearing something equally. Wanting to be a part of a sisterhood, of something bigger than yourself, but also being deeply apprehensive of the social aspects. That may sound crazy, as most everyone cites making friends and social events as the main reasons for joining a sorority. And we want that, too. We just want it on our own terms. People don’t often talk about the introverts of the sorority world. We’re all supposed to be bubbly, extroverted, chatty, and easygoing. We’re supposed to love mixers and mountain weekends, be friends with every girl in our chapter, and put ourselves out there on campus. But there are many of us who occasionally hide in bathrooms at house parties, who find bars less than thrilling, and who are absolutely petrified at the idea of joining a huge group of new girls. We don’t let that stop us from living the sorority life–we just have to approach it differently.
Here’s a breakdown of the major aspects of sorority social life, and how to deal with them as an introvert.
No matter which side of rush you’re on, PNM or active member, just remember that the girl you’re talking to is just as nervous as you are. The PNM desperately wants to be liked, and she’s aware that she’s basically being interviewed. The active member wants the PNM to have the very best impression of her chapter; she knows that she is the face of the chapter for that 10-minute conversation. As long as you remember that each of you is mutually seeking the approval of the other, and that each of you is prepared with topics to talk about, you will be fine. As a PNM, I literally wrote down questions to ask the night before each round. As an active member, I took notes in recruitment workshops that I read before each round. Be prepared!
The crazy sensory overload, the lack of sleep, and the intense sense of relief after surviving a week of recruitment is enough to make any introvert want to withdraw into her bedroom with enough Netflix and Nutella to last until midterms. But no, you’ve got to put on the shirt, paint your face, jump around, and scream as loud as the extrovert girl next to you, who appears to be literally seizing with excitement. This is a day of first impressions, and the most important day to push yourself beyond your social anxiety. Introverts are often mistaken as snobs, when in reality we’re just observing and trying to make sense of how we fit into a situation. If you don’t feel comfortable striking up conversations, just smile and sing along.
In the hunt for the perfect big or little, the key is to be yourself. If you pretend to like Merlot and Johnny Depp movies just because your potential big or little likes Merlot and Johnny Depp movies, then it’s going to be a long three years of enduring Merlot and Johnny Depp movies. Don’t fake it. There is a girl who will understand your need for alone time, who won’t pressure you to go out when you just want to stay home and watch a whole season of “Scandal,” and who will happily drink wine, cook a Whole Foods pizza, and watch a movie on a Saturday night with you. Find her. You need each other. I found her, and it’s amazing (hi Little, I love you).
I’ve never been a guys’ girl. I’ve always been envious of the girls who can easily become really good friends with boys and not once feel awkward in their interactions. That said, where there are sorority girls, there are fraternity boys. They are loud, they are drunk, they are in your face, and they are constantly trying to get you to do a keg stand. My general reaction used to be the wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights look, coupled with a faint “no thanks.” But then I did the introvert unthinkable: I accepted an invitation to a mountain weekend. I felt so unprepared that when I returned, I wrote “A Guide to Mountain Weekend” so that no TSM-reading girl will ever have to blindly enter into the experience again. Like I’ve said before, it helps to be prepared. You’re welcome. That, and finding a girl who is also internally freaking out as much as you are, will make it a totally tolerable experience. Trust me, there is another girl there who is just as uncomfortable as you are. Find her, talk to her, and remind each other that boys are just people. Well, kind of. This aversion therapy experience can be good for you. Once you’ve done a full weekend with a few hundred peers in one massive house, you’ll feel like you can take on anything.
Bars And Parties
It’s very easy to rely too heavily on alcohol when you’re uncomfortable in a social situation. It’s normal to want a glass of pre-date wine to calm your nerves, but multiple shots because you feel awkward isn’t going to end well–it’ll end in the hospital or in a standards meeting. Don’t overdo it in an attempt to loosen up. Freshman year, I pushed myself to go to all the parties my friends were going to, even though I hated the actual parties. Don’t do that. You’ll meet people like you when you do things you like to do. There’s no reason to force yourself to do something you hate just because everyone else is doing it. Life, and college, is too short to waste time hiding in a bathroom. Big college bars give me anxiety. I prefer smaller cocktail bars with live music and a place to sit so you can have conversations. Going to places where you feel comfortable regularly means that on a special occasion, like a friend’s birthday, you can handle an occasional night of typical debauchery at the biggest, nosiest, most crowded bar in town. Then go home, close the door, and recharge your social batteries in glorious solitude.
GO. Just swallow your fear of standing alone and go. These events are literally planned for the sake of giving girls the chance to get to know each other. Don’t stare at your phone the whole time. Check with your closest friends to see who is going, arrange to go with one of them, and remind yourself that these girls are your sisters. The most important thing to remind yourself is that no one is thinking about you as much as you are. Everyone else is busy thinking about herself, so show up, smile, and talk to people. If you don’t have friends in your sorority, it’s no one’s fault but your own.
If none of these golden, wisdom nuggets seem helpful, my dear, introverted reader, then I have one word for you: Xanax.