Surviving Rowan as an Extroverted Introvert

Two friends riding bikes.

Laney McNelia, a junior advertising major from Mickleton, NJ (Gloucester County) shares this first-person perspective on their experience being an extroverted-introvert, and how college helped them defeat their fears.

By definition, an “extroverted-introvert” lies more on the introverted personality spectrum while simultaneously possessing the traits of an extrovert. Personally, I have always felt that being an “outgoing introvert” is the best way to describe myself. As long as I have known it, I’ve always had the biggest personality, but only around those I’m comfortable showing that side of me to. Although I consider myself outgoing, my social anxiety turns me into the opposite once I am in any sort of social setting. Due to this, college was the one thing my whole life I dreaded. When it came to thinking of college, most people my age were so thrilled for the new life experience. Like meeting new people, going to events, going to parties, etc. Me on the other hand, I was petrified and delayed my process in going to college as much as I could.

Geese in a line in front of a red gazebo.

Being raised in a Catholic education where my classes really never had more than 40 students, my smallest being 13, going to college was a huge step for me. My whole life I had been new to situations that seemed normal to some people, like simply being friends with boys because I had been to an all-girls high school and had previously been bullied by boys in middle school. All those past situations just led to me to become fearful of things I had yet to even get the chance to experience, which in the long run had stunted my “social growth” in many ways.

Due to my fears of new environments, I chose Rowan University as it was only 15 minutes away from my home and I had been around campus my whole life. Choosing to live on campus was also something I was terrified of, as being around people my age caused me debilitating anxiety. Luckily, after a simple introduction post on the Rowan 2025 Facebook page, so many girls started to reach out to me. I also started to go through the page and found people just like me. And soon, follows on my social media platforms turned into small conversations, which then led to being added to multiple group chats. I had started to become genuine friends with the girls I had been connecting with, all of us anticipating the upcoming school year. That anxiety started to simmer and I started to become so excited to meet my new friends.

Group of friends sitting outside Bunce Hall.

Fast forward to move in day, anxiety still prevalent, I meet my roommate who I immediately attach myself at the hip to. When you are a freshman, it is easy to be nervous because everyone else is in the same predicament, new environment and new people. We then started to meet all of the people we had been speaking to for months online, all of us automatically getting along. I remember feeling so happy that I had gotten through the first difficult step in college, making friends.

Then it was time to defeat my next obstacle, going out. Before college, I was known as the friend to silently leave when the room got too crowded and loud. And going out for me didn’t simply mean parties, this also meant leaving my dorm room to go explore what was on campus. And although the anxiety was still there, with the support of my new found friends on campus, I slowly became more and more comfortable with the uncomfortable. I learned to force myself through the difficult situations, even if that meant pushing myself out the door to go to the class I was nervous about simply walking into. I learned that through Rowan’s multiple programs, I always had a support system and someone to talk to. Along with my professors, help was always available to me.

4 friends walking, smiling and talking to each other.

Flash forward to present day, reaching the end of my sophomore year, I would still consider myself an “extroverted-introvert.” Still I find myself being amazed at those on campus who are so easily able to do things that never fail to give me crippling anxiety. But, with the help of my friends and Rowan’s programs, I have been able to turn into a completely new human. With help from the Office of Accessibility Services on campus, I was able to get my own emotional support animal, which made the anxiety I had while living here almost completely disappear. I definitely won’t claim that I am no longer introverted, but will say that it is something I have found comfort and courage in. I have discovered so many ways to support and protect myself while also doing the best I can in my courses and college life. I have learned that it’s okay to keep to myself but it is also okay to just be myself, because it’s normal to be normal, and that no matter what I will be accepted.

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Written by: Laney McNelia, Junior advertising major

Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major