Illustration/Ellie Wilson - @elliecat_art

How do I navigate Cambridge as an introvert? I have been here a long time and I still don’t understand how people can go from society, to work, to socials without stopping for days - even weeks - at a time.


The most important thing to remember when worrying about navigating Cambridge as an introvert is that you are not alone. Nobody can be an extrovert 100% of the time. We all have a threshold at which constant socialising becomes too much, and once you’ve learnt and accepted what yours is — and that it may vary — then life becomes a whole lot easier.

The great thing about moments of introversion being a universal experience is that all the people in your life should be able to understand when you need a break, whether their own socialising threshold is high or low. The idea that nobody constantly requires you to be the super-fun, sociable side of yourself might come as a surprise, but it is certainly true. We all need to take a break sometimes — even those who seem to be unstoppable socialising machines — and people are generally willing to wait for you to be in the right mindset.

“Try not to compare yourself to others, your idea of fun is personal to you, and just as valid as anyone else’s.”

Keep in mind that your goal is to enjoy your university experience, not merely to appear as though that is the case. Try not to compare yourself to others, your idea of fun is personal to you, and just as valid as anyone else’s. One useful thing to do might be to rethink the way that you socialise; experiment and figure out what works best for you. Why not try hanging out in smaller groups? You could invite two or three friends over for the evening, or meet in the day for coffee. You could also try combining studying and socialising in order to avoid rushing from one to the other. Do some work with a friend in a library or café, then when you’re done you can go home for a well-earned break from it all.

Bizarrely, I think that navigating Cambridge as an introvert can be dealt with both by clever scheduling, and by a total absence of planning. If you choose the former, then what you need to remember is to allocate time for yourself. Setting blocks of time aside for not doing things is just as important as putting dates and deadlines into your social and academic calendars.

However, not overplanning your life allows you a sense of spontaneity. If you’re not having to dash from one activity to the next then you’re keeping your options open; you can choose either to hang around and chat, or to go off and do your own thing. It’s a matter of allowing yourself freedom and space. Be honest with yourself and others about how you are feeling, that way, when you do want to be out and about you’ll be refreshed and able to have the best time possible.



Mountain View

Fabulous Freshers – An ex-fresher’s guide to making Cambridge socially simple

Navigating the busy lifestyle which comes with studying at Cambridge is difficult for everyone, especially if you’re an introverted person who finds it exhausting constantly socialising and being around people. First of all, I would say that it is vital not to compare yourself to those around you. It is so important not to change who you are just because other people are living their lives differently. No two people are the same and what some may find too little social interaction may seem overwhelming to others. As long as you feel satisfied in how you are spending your time, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Also, although it may seem like they aren’t ever taking a break, you are probably just not seeing the moments in which they stop. No one can go on forever without taking time for themselves.

“It is vital not to compare yourself to those around you.”

If you aren’t happy, though, then potentially something needs to change. As an introvert it is necessary to carve out time for yourself and you shouldn’t just go to everything you can because you think that everyone else is. Perhaps try to go to just one or two more events each week and see how you feel. You may find that, actually, you don’t enjoy yourself - then you know that you are not missing out on anything. Alternatively, you might really enjoy yourself and find a group of people who you feel comfortable being around. There are plenty of societies and events in Cambridge that don’t involve excessive socialising or expect you to go to something every night of the week. If you can find something that interests you, then I am sure that there will also be similar people there who understand that you might not always want to go out with them. Just make sure that you are content with the way you are spending your time at Cambridge - ultimately, that is all that matters.