My academic advisor invited me to discuss the English Literature course in his office. What was I learning? How regular were my mental breakdowns? What was I going to do with my debt-ridden future? When he asked where I was from, I opened my mouth to say ‘Manchester’ but closed it again. I didn’t want to think about Home. I was alone; the only defendant in this magistrate’s office and the lights were laughing at me. I knew what came next: no matter how I twisted my fingers, crossed my feet and bit the inside of my cheek, the tears were already falling. ‘I-I’m sorry,’ I stuttered, blinking away from my advisor’s confusion. ‘I’m just tired’.
For an introvert, the daily obstacles of bumping into one’s flat mates, funneling down the spine in a cement mixer of other students, and meeting with one’s academic tutors, are beyond exhausting. In my diary I likened my first day on campus to an ‘out of body’ experience. That wasn’t far wrong, given that 1) I was horrendously sleep-deprived, 2) I had spent the car journey cringing away from a rogue caterpillar (which had crawled out of one of the suitcases), and 3) I had walked through every conversation I would be forced to participate in that day. How would I ask for my keys? How would I greet the student ambassadors? When would it be over? I remember my prayer that these students wouldn’t help my family to unload the car. I couldn’t understand why they were pleased to see us.
My prayer to be left alone foreshadowed the attitude I adopted for the entirety of my first year at Lancaster. Even now, as I make an effort in my second year to volunteer at the campus Eco Hub every week, and contribute more in my seminars, the amount of time I have to spend recovering in bed far outweighs my social triumphs.
I have no way of knowing how many introverts live on campus. My sister might be able to find out, given that she is doing a Psychology degree, but as an introvert herself I am not sure she would want to arrange the interviews. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one introvert happened to be reading this article. Hello. I am glad you picked up a copy of SCAN; I am proud you’re attempting to engage with university life in spite of your preference for solitude. I have not forgotten about you.
Although I have melancholic moments, when I am sat in a stranger’s office and asked about home, I will never take for granted the everyday joys that come from living and learning on campus (in spite of my less than exuberant social life). Whether it’s a feeling of tranquility collected along the university’s Woodland Walk, pride as a tutor notices my ‘conscientious attitude’ over my ‘awkwardness’ or the elation taken from a short conversation with the LICA ducks… Lancaster is an introvert friendly place to belong.