Growing up I was incredibly shy. I can’t tell you how many times I got the “quiet girl” label put on me (that was me in basically all of those tagging pictures that everyone posted on facebook in year 9) and it was really difficult to escape that. I was surprised when one of my course friends said to me the other day that she couldn’t imagine me ever being shy. It was quite a relief really because I’d assumed that people still perceived me that way today.
When you’re doing a subject with a lot of contact hours you end up spending a lot of time with the same people and it can be very draining and tiring – for me it is anyway as a very introverted person. I can’t handle being the centre of attention or being in big groups of people and I like to contribute to a conversation only when I feel I have something of real substance to add. I like to do things by myself and have nobody bother me, but when you’re doing lab experiments in a group you kind of have to talk to the other people.
Before going to university I didn’t find GCSEs or A levels so hard. I could avoid asking for help for most of the times that I needed it because I could just look up the answer in a revision guide or online and teach myself where something wasn’t very clear. When it comes to university level education it’s not always possible to do that. It’s so important to ask for help when you need it, whether in labs, workshops, tutorials or finding a member of staff in their office. Sometimes things are thrown at you that you just can’t make sense of and asking for help is an essential part of the learning process, not something to be ashamed of. It’s not fun but now I can ask for help whenever I need it. I’m very glad that we get to discuss problems in smaller groups a lot at Leicester because if all our contact time was lectures I don’t think I’d ever talk to the staff.
I will always be introverted and there’s nothing wrong with that, the difference now is that I have a lot more confidence. Over the past two years I have volunteered in a charity shop, worked behind the bar and as a barista. I would recommend these things to anyone who needs to overcome shyness because you find that you literally have no choice but pretend that you are confident and talk to every type of person. My confidence continues to grow as I go through university. I still have days where I really really don’t want to go to a lecture and want to avoid people altogether, though I try my best to get out of the flat and attend everything on my timetable.
I can’t hide the fact that I’m quite glad that it’s the end of term tomorrow and I’m looking forward to lots of alone time when I go home for the Christmas holidays but I’m not sure my family will allow that!