In September, I decided to follow my dream of helping people and began a course in Counselling Skills. One of the requirements of the course was to attend a compulsory two-day residential weekend. As an introvert with an added dollop of social anxiety, I dreaded it!
I put on the usual brave face and tried to get on with it. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well. The day started at 8 a.m., and I became engulfed in a sea of bubbly conversations. At 9 a.m., I threw myself into the first group activity, followed by group coffee breaks, group skills practice, and group lunch break. Finally at 9 p.m., after 13 hours of being with people (and yes, I was counting), I could either socialise at the bar or go to my room. I went to my room as I had a major tension headache and went to bed. The next morning, I was still totally overwhelmed by the previous day’s activities and broke down in tears, which was genuinely out of character for me.
After insisting that I needed to go back to my room for a couple of hours, I realised that I had been put in an unfair position—the schedule was ideal for extroverts but nearly impossible for introverts. I went on to communicate this during the group feedback session afterwards.
I’m pleased to announce that this led to a breakthrough. In response to the feedback I offered, the Residential Weekend schedule was subsequently changed to include a new activity, in which students returned to their rooms to write a letter of advice to their younger selves. This provided the introverts of the group with some crucial quiet time.
This may only be a small change, but I’m proud of myself for speaking out and making an improvement for the introverts of the world.