When my Exec term ended in December, I moved out of the Pres Suite in the Pi Phi chapter house and in to the senior house with my best friends. Although my days of having 3 meals prepared for me a day, my dishes done for me, and my bathroom cleaned twice a week are over, it was definitely time for me to move out. I had lived in Pi Phi since my sophomore year, when my pledge class and all my best friends moved in to the long hallway of doubles upstairs. Those 2+ years were significant to say the least, and so much growth happened right there in that very house (to be cheesy – a lot of laughter and a lot of tears). While living with 42 other girls, I was forced to learn measures about myself and about others – things I never would have learned not having the experience of living in a sorority house.
Now that I’ve had enough time to adjust to a more calm (to say the least) living environment, I’m amazed at how important the environment in which we live is to our day-to-day well being. Even in a crazy town like Isla Vista, I love living in this little home with 4 of my best friends – the rainy mornings where we drink our coffee next to the cozy fireplace; the evenings where we are all getting in each others way cooking dinner in our tiny kitchen as the sun sets over the ocean just outside our window. Still, I’m grateful for all that living with 42 other girls taught me those 2 pivotal years. 2 lesson in particular:
1. How to care for myself as a true introvert.
A couple years ago I read this article explaining what it means to be a true introvert. Nothing has ever resonated with me more (I really mean that). When I moved in to the sorority house, I struggled so much with balancing alone time and friend time. I would get home from class and just want to sit in my room and do nothing for a little while, but all of my best friends lived right across the hall from me and were always ready to sit around and chat. I couldn’t figure out why just sitting there doing nothing in their presence made me so anxious. For some reason, I just wanted to be alone and I felt really bad about it.
As Jonathan Rauch explains, “for introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.” I’ve always been shy and I’ve always been more of a homebody, but once my home turned in to just another place of socialization, I really started to second guess whether I was normal or not. The recent research on introversion has really helped me understand how to balance my time, take care of myself, and even explain it to friends so they don’t get offended when I’d rather spend some extra time on my own.
For introverts, we really just need to spend time alone to re-charge, whereas extroverts re-charge by taking in the energy from the people around them, further draining the energy of the already-low-energy introvert.
This article explains it from a scientific standpoint – how receiving too much dopamine makes an introvert feel overstimulated. I found these 10 ways introverts interact differently with the world to be very spot on, and make me feel a little less alone in a world that is highly populated with extroverts.
2. Though we are different, we are very much the same.
The list of differences between any group of 42 women could go on and on, but living with 42 girls for over 2 years has forced me to see that at the end of the day, as humans, we have so much in common.
We all want the same things: to do well on our test, to be heard, to feel cared for…at the end of the day, humans really aren’t all that different.
We all hurt: from hearing someone argue with their boyfriend on the bench outside my window, to waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and finding someone crying on the staircase – it opened my eyes to the worlds that exist outside of my very own, small world.
It constantly reminded me that every single person on earth experiences things that we may never know about, and for that reason, our judgements are just not valid. Just more and more reasons to practice kindness.