By Hailey Collier, BlueDevilHUB.com Staff–
When Catherine de la Peña first met her best friend sophomore Sasha Ballowe, she called her “slinky.”
“Whenever we were talking, and I’d turn around to talk to someone else, I’d look back and she’d be halfway across the quad,” de la Peña said.
“I don’t like being in a big group of people,” Ballowe said. When she must be in a big group of people, usually at holiday parties, she says that these events usually consist of a lot of small talk.
Ballowe isn’t the only one who has difficulties being in large groups of people. This is a trademark characteristic of an introvert.
According to Robert Hales, a professor and psychiatrist at UC Davis, an introvert is someone who keeps to themselves and often feels uncomfortable interacting with others.
Hales offered that about half of all people are introverts, but emphasized that it isn’t a defined number.
“We’re all on [an introversion] spectrum of different traits and qualities, and we all manifest them to a certain degree,” Hales said.
And while it may seem like there are fewer introverts than extroverts, Sanna Balsari-Palsule, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, agrees with Hales.
“The difference is that we see and hear introverts less than extroverts, so we are more likely to assume that there are fewer introverts than extroverts,” Balsari-Palsule said.
Hales, an introvert himself, has three pieces of both professional and personal advice for introverts.
First, Hale suggests writing down what you want to say to specific people. “Think about who’s going to be there. If you have a grandma who makes her own sweaters, compliment her on that,” Hales said.
He also urges introverts to ask questions of others. “You’re engaged, but the burden is on the person responding, not on you,” Hales said.
Hale recommends concentrating on their answer to use follow-up questions as a response.
His final advice is to mimic those who are socially gifted. “When you see extroverts, copy their behavior […] watch them, see how they do it. Let them be role models,” Hales said.
As a long-time introvert, Ballowe’s advice to other introverts is to stick to somebody you know well and to find a legitimate opportunity to leave.
De la Peña has also known she was an introvert since she was very young. “When I was younger, I used to make my babysitters lie to other [kids] so I wouldn’t have to hang out with them,” de la Peña said.
She uses similar tactics to Ballowe’s to survive holiday parties. “I stick around my parents, and awkwardly laugh with everyone,” de la Peña said.
Sophomore Sarah Wu doesn’t consider herself an introvert but does show some of the characteristics of one.
To avoid small-talk with her relatives, none of whom are her age, and all of whom speak Chinese, Wu will go to the bathroom and wait there until the coast is clear.
Despite using similar techniques to Ballowe and de la Peña’s, Wu’s advice is different.
“Challenge yourself. Go talk to them,” Wu said. “It’s important to spend time with your family.”