As a confessed introvert, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to participate in my share of awkward first days of school. Let’s face it, I’ve had entire first semesters of bona fide awkwardness. It never really mattered if my experiences were good, bad or even funny; they have all been awkward and uncomfortable. My general disinterest in people has not been helpful, so I’ve had to develop techniques to navigate those first contacts.
Here are my tips for introverts facing a new school year:
- Learn to live among people with grace, humor and Jesus.
- I am not a fan of being touched by people. Handshakes, shoulder touches and hugs are always uncomfortable. I avoid uncoordinated high-fives and those weird exchanges when one person expects a hug and the other expects a hand shake by always having my hands full. Carry your books in one hand and your lunch box in the other: my favorite, a Starbucks in one hand and my phone in the other. (Bonus Technique: This tip works on Sunday mornings too. When you don’t want to be approached by the aggressively friendly church greeters.)
- Always be the one in control of the conversation.
- Yes, introverts, this requires you to initiate the conversation. By being the first to speak, you might get out of the interaction without experiencing a mental breakdown. Remember, your goal is not to control the other person, but to define your own boundaries. Leave grace for the other person so they don’t feel rushed. Say something like “Hey, friend. I am heading to class in a couple of minutes, but I wanted to make sure I saw you. How’s your day going?”
- By setting a predefined time limit (a couple of minutes) for your conversation, you set the conditions of your escape without leaving in silence while your extroverted friend wants to share every detail of her family’s summer vacation. You get to say everything you wanted at the beginning and limit the parameters of the conversation. As introverts, we tend to be curt to others without even noticing. This can be offensive or make you seem aloof and uncaring. By initiating conversation, you show intentionality and that you really do care. If the person you are talking to knows you well, they will understand how hard it is for you to mingle, making your actions more meaningful to them.
- Don’t feel guilty when you need to refuel by getting some alone time.
- The start of the school year is the most chaotic and busy time for you. There are all kinds of activities. New sports seasons, homecoming and spirit nights all sound fun in theory and worthy of participation, but after one pep rally you’re exhausted. I know the feeling. In school, I tried to cope by being the overachiever and teacher’s pet. I felt compelled to sign up for every activity or event, but I never truly enjoyed myself. I never took time to refuel.
- It’s important to check in with yourself during these school years of your life. Don’t become so busy that you cannot do your best on your actual school work, but avoid isolating yourself to the point of loneliness. You need to find the right balance for you. The special recipe is different for everyone. Even extroverts have to find time to refuel in their own way.
- Always pray first.
- The main thing to remember as the new school year begins, is to go in with prayer. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and comfort you when you feel overwhelmed.
- I have created a prayer guide that I believe would be helpful as you face the new school year. Subscribe to my e-newsletter and download the prayer guide for free.
I am praying for all of you and I know the best is yet to come.
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