The exclamation mark in F!rosh should tell you enough – it is, by its very existence, a “hype” event. Which is all well and good… except of course, “hypeness” isn’t for all. It certainly wasn’t for me. Now, F!rosh isn’t perpetually hype: there is more to it than yelling, or chanting “this guy rocks!!” every time someone does something mildly impressive, or memorizing more chants to yell at other teams. During my week, there were “lower energy” activities, which you could access at certain intervals when F!rosh “Leedurs” asked who wanted to go to the lower energy zone. For some reason, when I raised my hand to go to the room of calmer activities, I felt like a kid in elementary school, seeking approval to go to the washroom. Somehow, it felt shameful to go to an area that wasn’t “hype”. Why did I feel this way? There is no shame in seeking a place of peace and quiet. See, the sheer amount of “hype” behaviour is more than enough to overwhelm some people: introverted individuals, who don’t exactly revel in wrecking their vocal chords or shooting their hand up when an opportunity to participate presents itself, especially not on the first week of university surrounded by 50+ strangers.
Becoming overwhelmed led me to think I had to act hype to participate. Which made me feel ashamed for not being a Hype Beast™. Yet, here I am, as introverted as ever, having survived a week of booming activities and intense socializing. So how did I survive this week without changing who I was? How can you, my fellow introvert friend, do it? Here it is. My attempt at an Introvert’s Guide to F!rosh.
Step 1: Ask yourself: Are you, in fact, an introvert?
You could take a quiz on this and let Buzzfeed decide for you, based on your Chick-fil-A order, or you can do some introspection. Do you get drained from being around others for too long? Are you normally more of a listener/observer, thus making people think you’re quiet? You might have a small group of close friends. There’s no such thing as a rigid dichotomy between extroversion and introversion. You can contradict yourself. You can contain multitudes. But if you said “yes” to the questions above, you could be at least a little introverted. Which still matters.
Step 2: Understand introversion isn’t the same as shyness.
Any respectable article on introversion will tell you that being an introvert does not mean you’re a shy recluse or an emotional wreck who can’t participate. Once again, boxing things into rigid categories is dangerous. I’ve been told that as an introverted person, I probably feel emotional effects more and am less comfortable leading. This is false; I love taking the lead. I’m comfortable doing it – this does not negate the fact that I have boundaries and require time away from screaming adolescents.
The point is that everyone is new during F!rosh, and shyness is a natural reaction to meeting new people, as is nervousness. Those feelings can subside, but introversion isn’t a simple emotion. You can be extremely sociable, lead teams and participate in environments you’re comfortable in, but need time alone to recharge your batteries before jumping in the riveting conversation of “what program are you in?” [insert response] “Oh okay I’m in EngSci”. Don’t equate two seemingly similar things, and certainly do not assume.
Step 3: Tips and Tricks
Finally, the actual “Guide” part. As someone who is quite reserved and observant when first meeting others, F!rosh was rough for me. During the first half, I’d scoff at my teammates throwing their arms in the air and screeching their vocal cords raw. I would squint in mild distress at too many stiff bodies dancing awkwardly to KC & the Sunshine Band, in a dance that looked suspiciously similar to the macarena. Until, like a magnificent butterfly emerging from its cocoon, I too was nodding my head to the “nananananana” of the song. I would chant “this guy rocks!!”, because impressive or not, they tried. Earlier, I said I survived this week. But wouldn’t you rather thrive? Here, I think, is how. 7 tips to free you from your chrysalis and let you soar!
1) No one cares about the way you act, so if it’s judgment you fear, you can take comfort in knowing not a single person will care. Or honestly, remember. Except, of course, if you behave unlawfully, in which case please do not. No maiming.
2) F!rosh is for you, so make it YOUR week. Stop focusing on how utterly immature or ridiculous things can be. Those two adjectives can become pretty fun, once you focus on the good stuff: the cool merch, the people working hard to make you happy, the freakishly cool covvies you can get after a year, the interesting people you meet, and the excitement at starting what is arguably one of the hardest programs to get into. Flex that “#1 Engineering School in Canada”.
3) Take breaks. It’s okay to walk away and have some alone time. In fact, it’s necessary for your psychological wellness. And with F!rosh being online this year, taking social breaks is easier than ever. Don’t be afraid of missing out if you leave – I assure you, 15 minutes changes extremely little in the grand scheme of things. Don’t try to do everything or be everywhere, and know it’s not necessary to be logged on 24/7 to have a good experience.
5) Find people you like, and cultivate your friendship. Even if painstaking small talk isn’t necessarily your strength – I’m terrible at it – once you get past the “where are you from”s and “why UofT”s, you can actually get to know people. If you’re usually more of an observer, use those observations to your advantage and ask insightful questions.
6) In bigger activities, it’s perfectly okay to take time to sit on the sidelines and observe, but take chances to make sure you have no regrets. Raise your hand. Be silly. Answer that trivia question, sign up for clubs.
7) Prepare yourself by reading books that’ll make you crave human connection, like The Humans by Matt Haig, or Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, or A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman.
Introversion isn’t something to be ashamed of, so it’s important to be part of the conversation that will allow others like you to shine. Be in the room where it happens. I wish I could say that being an observer is fine and works out perfectly, but as it stands, society praises people who get involved, and show that they’re involved – sometimes loudly.
This is my way of speaking out about the things that stopped me from participating in F!rosh, and how I either overcame them, or wish I did; a personal perspective on an event that wasn’t great for me. I know many people loved it, and the sheer magnitude of the event is proof enough that year after year, it is a success. My experience was riddled with circumstances, like having to commute, and thus missing out on Nightlife activities, or adjusting to a drastically different environment from my all-female high school, or being reluctant about approaching Leedurs in my group. You won’t live the same things I did, and hey, F!rosh is online this year so you don’t have to worry about the TTC or GO trains and their wonderful delays. Enjoy this week if you’re in it, as much as you can, because this is the start to a really intense year.
And if you don’t feel like being loud or dancing? F!rosh is still Frosh, even without the exclamation mark.