Welcome, all my little bundles of social anxiety! If you are struggling with coming out of your introverted shell and seeking help, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s clarify a few things before we get to the good stuff:
What is an “introvert”?
Merriam-Webster defines an introvert as “a reserved or shy person who enjoys spending time alone.” To put it simply, if you’ve ever fantasized about becoming fatally ill so you’d be excused from social obligations, you’re probably an introvert.
Why should you care?
The Huffington Post reports that “one-third to one-half of Americans are introverts.” This means even if you don’t identify as an introvert, your buddy watching Netflix every Saturday night probably is.
Having a go-getter mentality might be more beneficial than being reserved. At least, in certain situations, like trying to get that job promotion, or running for a leadership role in a club you enjoy.
Shonna Provoncha is a recent college graduate who works too much. She identifies as a former introvert, turned extrovert. In her interview she explains how college parties helped her come out of her shyness.
Shonna Provoncha posing in front of Hawkins Pond on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus. Photo taken by Janelle Brassard.
Q: How would you define an introvert?
Shonna: People that are shy and don’t really like social interactions.
Q: You said on the phone that do were one [an introvert] at one point … do you not identify as one anymore?
Shonna: I do sometimes, I think it depends on the situation. I have a lot of friend that are extroverts that are crazy, and I kind of adopted their “let’s just go out and do things” attitude.
Q: Would you say that surrounding yourself with extroverts will help fellow introverts get out of their shell?
Shonna: Yeah! I mean, that’s what worked for me.
Q: What was/is it like to party as an introvert?
Shonna: Well, when I first went to college, I didn’t talk to anybody and my roommate was a crazy partier who always went out and had fun. I always envied her for that. She used to drag me out, and I would just stand in the corner and watch people. I kind of liked that part, the people-watching part, but I was a little jealous because she was able to walk out in the middle of the floor and start dancing.
Q: So would you say you’re more like your roommate now when you go to parties?
Shonna: Oh, yeah! Now I don’t care.
Q: Aside from being surrounded with your extroverted friends, what were some steps you took to get to this point?
Shonna: I just kept going out. Even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to, I pushed through it because I knew I’d get more used to those kinds of situations. It took my roommate four years to get me to dance at a party! But now I can’t stop. Now I try to get other people to dance. I guess you just need time.
Q: Can you tell me about a bad experience you’ve had at a party?
Shonna: One of the first parties I went to was at a frat house. We were shuffled into the basement. Everyone was on top of everybody and I was instantly like, “I can’t breathe.” Everyone is sweating on you and shoving drinks at you and I was just like, “I don’t know you, I don’t know you.” And then I saw my RA making out with some random guy! We left after, like, five minutes there. It was very uncomfortable.
Q: OK, so what about a good experience? What’s the first memory you have of when you started to enjoy yourself at a party?
Shonna: I went with my roommate and her friends to an afterparty one year. I think this was junior year. My roommate’s friends were all dancing with her, but then they all came over to me and grabbed me and were dancing with me. I guess being in a group, instead of just two people really helped me. I felt more comfortable and I liked that they included me even though they didn’t know me. They were like, “Oh, you’re her roommate? Come here, come join us.”
Q: Lastly, is there any advice that you’d want to give to somebody who is struggling with going to parties?
Shonna: Don’t be afraid to get out there. It’s one of those things where you have to push yourself through the anxiety. I know it’s hard, I have anxiety too, but if you just work your way through a little at a time, it’s a lot easier. Eventually you’ll get there.
Shonna with friends at Peabody’s in Plattsburgh, NY.
From left to right; Ashley Magoon, Shonna Provoncha. Photo by Ashley Magoon.