To me, the idea of social interaction is positively dreadful. While there are plenty of people I like, I would rather just spend time by myself most of the time. Seriously. If it was up to me, I would spend 99% of my life alone. Why would I want to be around others when I could sit and enjoy the quiet? Spending a Friday night watching baking competitions and reading sounds significantly more attractive than… anything. That statement says nothing about other people, it’s all me. Being alone does not make me lonely; it makes me happy. If this description pertains to you, I have a few tips that help me get through a socially-centered day at school.
1. Make up for lost social interaction with books.
Instead of actually participating in social interactions, it’s a lot easier to read about them. Not to mention, conversations that happen in books are no doubt more interesting than real ones. Ordinary discourse is terribly boring in comparison to the wide range of topics available in literature. Why talk about the test in third period when you could be reading about a serial killer talking to his next victim? Trying to stay amused in real life is a futile practice; fiction provides constant entertainment. Plus, people are less likely to bother you if they see your nose buried in a book. All-in-all, it’s a win-win for sure.
2. Get involved with clubs that encourage independence.
Team sports are not the preferable option for most standoffish students. They require teamwork, communication, and bonding; all of which may seem attractive to others, but those qualities don’t fit your personal style. If you want to get involved at school without the social aspects, fear not, for Anacortes High School offers plenty of individualistic clubs and activities. The best way to find the perfect club is through experimentation; maybe try cross country or speech and debate. While you’re at it, come to a Seahawk Journal meeting! The point is, you can always find ways to enjoy extracurriculars without spending every second in conversation. There are tons of options, and if you find you don’t like something, you don’t have to commit.
3. A little social interaction is good for you.
While it may be tempting to avoid all conversation some days, know that a little bit of communication is healthy. In fact, studies have proven that interactive people tend to be happier. That doesn’t mean antisocial people are inherently depressed; it just goes to show that complete isolation is not (always) the best option. Some people take that note to the extreme, claiming that talking with others is essential to staying alive; unfortunately, books do not count as interaction in this case. Personally, I’m not totally convinced of either of these claims. During the summer, there were plenty of days I went eight to ten hours without conversation, and I’m alright… I even developed the ability to communicate with bats through echolocation.
4. Make friends with people who share your introverted nature.
Finding someone who shares your passion for being alone while wanting to be alone yourself can pose as quite a challenge. It may also seem counterintuitive; why would you want to spend time with anyone except your new bat companions? However, there are tons of positives in having a similarly antisocial friend. One of these benefits is having access to someone who will complain about socializing with you. Extroverts just don’t get it. They’ll never completely relate to your opinions, so talking with a like minded individual can be very liberating. Plus, having a compatible friend gives you the aspects of friendship you need without becoming overwhelming. They will be able to understand your boundaries and won’t call you lame for wanting to stay in on a Friday night. Maybe they can even join you, just so long as they don’t try and start a conversation or anything.
5. Use your time off from school to recharge.
For me, following this tip involved locking myself in my room for the entire summer. I spent my time rereading the first four Harry Potter books, completing my summer assignments, and painting. Clearly, it was a blast. With my parents at work and my little brother at Boy Scout camp, I was able to construct my own schedule and regain the life sucked out of me during the school year. Not to mention, by the time school rolled around, I was emotionally ready to take on the hardships of socializing. Even a modest three-day weekend can refuel your social battery given the right circumstances. A hot cup of tea, a soft blanket, and an interesting baking program all meet the criteria for a renewing experience.
6. Always have an an enjoyable activity on you.
Being prepared to avoid conversation is an essential skill for extreme introverts. That’s why I recommend always carrying a portable task. This could include a book, a cellphone, or a sketchbook. At least when I’m at school, I keep all of these objects on hand. That way, if the teacher announces that I have time during class to socialize, I’m not forced to do so. While my peers discuss trivial matters, I have the ability to be transported to another world or distracted through music. If I’m not prepared, I might become involved in unsolicited discourse. The same goes for you, so heed my warning and take my advice.
7. Balance your deprived social life with interaction with animals.
Most everyone enjoys a good visit with a pet, whether they are extroverted or introverted. Conventionally, reserved people are known to prefer the company of cats, but that is, of course, not always the case. If you already have a pet, spend some extra time with it. If not, try to convince your parents to invest in one! Owning an animal is a truly disciplinary, unique experience. Plus, your dog will listen to you rant without interrupting you or trying to incorporate its own anecdotes into the conversation, which is great. When you need to talk to someone, but aren’t feeling necessarily social, relying on the comfort of a pet is always a good solution.
8. Make sure your relatives don’t think you are undergoing a depressive episode.
For some reason, people start to worry when you spend multiple days at a time without socializing. To prevent your parents from contacting a mental health specialist, be sure to check in with them occasionally. Just let them know that you are doing alright and laugh a little. If you take after them at all, they will understand your introverted tendencies. And, if you find yourself separating yourself because you are feeling depressed, please let them know so you can get some help. There’s no shame in needing a little assistance.
9. Spend your extra time investing in your classes.
Instead of rushing your homework every night between extracurriculars, take your time and do your best work. Not only will it make you feel super accomplished, your grades will definitely improve will the little added effort. You don’t have to kill yourself over your scores, but it always feels good to boost your grades. Chances are, you might even find interest in some of your subjects when you go slow and try to process the information rather than arbitrarily absorb it.
10. Be honest with your social friends.
This one is hard, but it is also probably the most important tip. If you have friends who love hanging out all the time and want you to join them, just be honest. You don’t have to say, “I hate hanging out.” Instead, give a reason you would prefer to be alone. Tell them that you would prefer to catch up on your favorite TV show or finish the great game you started playing . Whatever you do, don’t lie. Faking plans is never a good idea, for a multitude of reasons. First of all, you might get caught in the lie. Lying has the potential to sabotage friendships, and even though you may not want to be around them constantly, you still appreciate your pals. Secondly, it doesn’t really help you in the future. Being honest allows people to understand how you feel. If they are your true friends, they will accept you for the antisocial being you are and won’t force any unwanted social interaction on you.
A lot of people think that being antisocial is a curse; in actuality, it can be a blessing. Spending time by yourself holds tons of perks: you can invest in your classes, learn to crochet, and maybe even learn to talk with animals. Like anything, however, it does have a few negatives. If you decide to lock yourself in your room, make sure to check in with your loved ones and drink plenty of water. Whatever you do, make sure to be true to yourself and stay healthy.