My first couple of weeks at QMUL have been, well, not quite a disaster. Sure, I haven’t starved (yet) and my laundry is even the same size and colour as it was before I washed it. But set foot in Drapers and I become more akin to reclusive “freak” Allison from The Breakfast Club, than the witty and charming student writer you see on the page.
My abominable dancing is enough to disqualify me from at least half the SU’s events, and with conversational skills perhaps rivalling those of a mackerel, I’m a fish out of water in social situations. But when partying is not a priority, and socialising leaves you (slightly) sweaty, what is there left for a poor Fresher to do? It takes a lot to lure me out of my room (note. Nachos), and I have to confess- in spite of myself, I had a good time at the Ministry of Sound Icebreaker. Perhaps it was the choice of music in different rooms, or the presence of an outside area to visit when the club became overwhelming- most likely it was the presence of a group of pals who didn’t take it all too seriously.
Some may attribute characteristics like these as being part of the fashionable ‘introversion’ craze, where a night in with Jon Snow and Domino’s is a common pastime; but I don’t think that quite says it all. Can people ever be as simple as to fall into categories as distinct as “introvert” and “extrovert”? While Buzzfeed would love to convince us otherwise, with its tempting clickbait quizzes (Do you have more common with Princess Aurora or a wooden spoon?), it’s easy to argue that society’s love of labels overblows it, amplifying the stereotypes to unhealthy levels.
For those of you who may not know, an introvert is defined as “a withdrawn or reserved person” by the Oxford English Dictionary, and an extrovert is considered the opposite: “a sociable or unreserved person”. Other definitions include the amount of time spent around other people before “recharging”- introverts needing more time than most.
So what’s the problem here? More recently, the unassuming definitions of these descriptors have been distorted by the “images” of intro/extroverts painted over them. “Indoorsy” people are not always the romanticised, sensitive loners we’re led to believe lurk behind closed doors. Neither is the world as stacked against them as the bloggers report. Likewise, people need not be wild party animals to go outside and speak to others. Pre-made “boxed” personalities can encourage those who self-identify not to think outside of them- and these limits can be detrimental in the long term.
There’s nothing wrong with the act of identifying with something; it’s one of the more appealing elements of pop-culture. But retaining self-awareness can sometimes be a challenge. No matter if you identify as an introvert or an extrovert, there are still some things everyone can enjoy. You can pick up a cup of coffee in no fewer than four locations on campus, and the Library is a prime spot for those of you keen to keep ahead of reading, or borrow a DVD for movie night. Whatever you like to do, a party of two can be just as much fun as a party of twenty.