Inside the Introvert’s Mind


My normal Thursday afternoon is every introvert’s nightmare. In the next four hours, I will have to recite a poem in front of my English class, pick up my PSAT scores and attend a meeting about classes and summer programs that will impress one of the many coveted Ivy League colleges.

At Hockaday, we are bred to be leaders. We are pushed to take the hardest classes, stand up for ourselves and use our resources to create success. Our mission statement emphasizes leadership, but this competitive environment can create many problems for introverts. But who exactly are the introverts?

Anyone can be an introvert. Whether they are the life of the party or take the life out of a party, introverts are not defined by how they spend their Saturday nights; introverts are self-proclaimed because introversion is simply a mind game. Introverts can do anything that an extrovert can.

The difference is what’s going on behind the scenes. At a glance, I probably look exactly the same as my extroverted friend at a party, but that’s because no one can see the second party going in my head with millions of thoughts. Unlike my spontaneous extroverted friend who is probably going to go to another party now, I am constantly wondering if I look okay and thinking about how I’m acting. I have officially mastered the subtle head bop to music because I’m too self-conscious to dance and I am the queen of excuses of why I can’t come to the next party full of strangers. I enjoyed myself that night with a small circle of friends, but now I’m tired and I need to recharge on my own at home, preferably with a box set of Gilmore Girls.

Although I have the quirks of an introvert, I don’t have to “break out of my shell” as many Hockaday English teachers have commented in my essays in order to be happy or successful. In fact, contrary to popular belief, introverts can be the professional, confident Daisies that are portrayed in our school catalogues. It just takes a little bit of inside knowledge.

After 12 years at this school, I have learned that the key to surviving Hockaday as a person who can even get nervous texting in a group chat is to take your time and change anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Being social, outgoing and using your extroverted side is entirely possible for an introvert but only in relatively short bursts, so take your time in between your moments of glamour. Leave the party early. Ask for an extension on that spoken poetry assignment. Anytime you feel stressed, take your time to think through the anxiety. Remember that no grade, person or college is worth harm to your mental health.

Changing anything that makes you uncomfortable includes friendships. As an introvert, it’s hard for me to make close friends that I really trust, but I do know who to stay away from. Most introverts aren’t known for exuding self-confidence and it can be overwhelming to live in a world where every test grade, extracurricular activity and homecoming after party is scrutinized and compared. With this already immense pressure in mind, anyone who adds to my insecurities, has an unhealthy competitive streak or creates drama is not my type of person.

In addition to changing your friendships, you can also change the curriculum. Introversion is not the new “my dog ate my homework.” You can’t use it to get out of assignments or classwork, but I think it’s okay to find a way to restructure something that was created for the extrovert. Maybe you could smuggle in a visual aid into a seven minute verbal speech to support your argument or ask a teacher to balance group work with individual work.

However, the biggest piece of advice I can offer to an introvert who roams these college-driven hallways is: feel free to be both a leader and a follower in school and everywhere else. While entirely possible, being a leader can be extremely hard for an introvert. Hockaday has a tendency to over-promote starting our own path in life. We are encouraged to start our own clubs, non-profits and award-winning independent studies.

Too often in this frantic race to found businesses and choose internships that will surely impress the top colleges of the country, the introverts are left behind because we are content with following people who can speak on our behalf and joining pre-existing clubs that still cater to our passions. I argue that the decision to follow leaders is equally important to being one.

At Hockaday, we are always taught to stand up for what we think is right, but standing can be a little challenging for introverts; we also need to embrace sitting down and thinking about a solution to the problem before our extroverted friends go running to fight for their rights.