“Join or die” always seemed to be the theme media and friends threw at me as the ideal “college experience.”

If you can’t balance frat parties, charity work, student government clubs, befriending everyone on your floor, all-nighters (both of the studying and partying variety), all while warding off the freshman fifteen… then hah! You might as well curl up at home with a laptop and some online college.

Or so it would seem, at least. To an introvert like me, college looked like a minefield. When I started, I was sincerely afraid I’d be miserable the entire time.

Read: I Had No Idea What to Expect After Transferring Colleges

But, TA DA! Here I am, living proof that introverts have just as much fun in college. I won’t lie, it was rough getting here. But I hope my experience can make it easier for someone else.

Here I am, living proof that introverts have just as much fun in college.

I made the choice to finish my last two years of high school as a dual-credit student at the Spokane Community Colleges (with American Honors!), in no small part because I couldn’t handle high school politics.

I didn’t fit in with my peers. The gossip, football games, and ever shifting alliances were not my cup of tea. In fact, a literal cup of tea and a book have always been my idea of a good time.

But back then, I considered this a personal failure. It felt like I wasn’t good enough for everyone else, that I was weird and awkward for having different tastes, and I told myself college would be a fresh start.

“I told myself college would be a fresh start.”

My awkward childhood a secret, I could finally blossom into a sparkling debutante of social politics in a big city. I transferred to American University in Washington, DC, ready to finish my bachelor's degree.

Suddenly it was week one and I couldn’t remember the name of anyone on my floor! Or whether they’re from Philly or Boston! Or their majors! Everyone introduced themselves this way, and I already felt myself falling behind.

At Welcome Week, nearly every icebreaker asked you to give a fact about yourself that “sets you apart.” Amidst the declarations of impressive volunteer regimens, athletic achievements, and third or fourth languages learned, my weak answers made me withdraw further.

Everyone seemed to be pairing up and strolling around in groups, laughter ringing over campus like a warning bell.

At my first class, we were told to mingle.

My worst nightmare: a huge group of people and nothing but the vague order to “mingle.” What is mingling anyway?

“What is mingling anyway?”

I stood in the corner nibbling a pastry anxiously, watching everyone else pull off their interpretations of the word without a second thought.

I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting out of the corner.

I was feeling as though I had made a big mistake until it sunk in: I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting out of the corner. I walked up to the first person I clapped eyes on. She happened to be from my floor and we hit it off right away over the diceyness of forced mingling, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Later that day, I walked past a girl with the coolest style, monochrome, modern. I paused a beat, turned around and threw over the courtyard “I love your outfit!”

To my surprise, she changed directions, walked over and started chatting.

She was from New Zealand, and didn’t really know anyone, would it be weird if we exchanged numbers?

Now she is my best friend. She visited for Christmas last year so I could educate her on the supremacy of the Inland Northwest.

Moral of my first week: Don’t stress out over not clicking with everyone.

If you’re like me, you would rather have fewer friends with stronger bonds than run with a big crowd anyway.

Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed to the point of withdrawing, remember you do have something in common with these people, you all fell in love with the same school and you know no one! There are people out there that will change your life and stay with you forever, but you have to earn these special friendships, go out and find them!

Read: How to Make Friends at College

Authored by Jessica McQuarrie

Jessica studied as an American Honors student at Community Colleges of Spokane before transferring to American University. She writes about self discovery and the effect honors programs have on students.