It takes all kinds to make the world go around! St. John’s thrives on this balance in our close community and small classes. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, the college can be a paradise. An important part of the college experience is defining your own identity. No longer are you defined solely by those around you, by your family, your friendship group, your high-school clique, your grades, your hometown neighborhood. Now, you are in a new place, likely a place where no-one knows you, and you have the chance to choose how you wish to define yourself, how you wish to be seen by others. This isn’t, of course, ever an easy task. Part of young adulthood is trying on different identities for size, seeing whether they fit you, whether they make you feel comfortable, whether they match how you want others to see you. College is a wonderful place where you can be free to be wrong about who you are, especially at a small school like St. John’s. You can dress in shorts and tie-dye and ride a unicycle on campus. You can define yourself by your love of Plath or Dickinson, and you can try out ten different extracurriculars that you never would have thought of before. You can meet your new best friend in line for the dining hall, or the love of your life across the intramural field. But even more so, this is a wonderful time to experiment with your internal sense of identity.
The basic concept behind these terms is that some people – extroverts – draw their energy from spending time with others and socializing, whereas others – introverts – need to recharge their energy by being alone. Many introverts seem to think that society favors extroverts. Extroverts are often stereotyped as partiers, social butterflies, and “too loud”, whereas introverts are often stereotyped as antisocial and bookish.
It’s easy to see why St. John’s is an introvert’s perfect setting. Time spent alone with books, in beautiful old buildings, reading under trees or up in the mountains, an expansive library offering books, movies, and special collections, what more could an introvert ask for? Time spent alone in the life of the mind is golden time at St. John’s. Sitting with a book or walking and thinking to allow your ideas to percolate into a perfect brew before your next class will be invaluable to you.
But St. John’s can be a wonderful place for an extrovert, too. As I’ve hoped to emphasize in my past writings, St. John’s is above all a community. It’s easy enough to be alone at St. John’s, if you really want to there is always a quiet corner of the library or the field or an empty classroom to be had, but it is hard to be lonely. Company is just as easy to find as solitude if it’s what you’re aiming for. It can be as easy as stepping outside your dorm door, there are sure to be plenty of students studying in any common room well into the late evening. For a more structured pursuit, move to an extracurricular, an intramural club, or a study group. If there isn’t a study group for any text or subject you’d like – anything from German to Latin to the Maimonides to the Conquests of Alexander – then start one! You’re almost sure to be able to find a tutor willing to help, and fellow students who want to study the same thing that interests you.
That’s what is at the basis of what makes St. John’s so good for extroverts. St. John’s is such a mix-up of idiosyncratic types that you are sure to find someone to share your uniqueness. Whatever quirky interest, habit, or hobby you have that you think is something that only interests you, you’ll most likely to find someone to share it at St. John’s.
And being involved with the Johnnie community brings wonderful strength to that community. St. John’s is the wonderful place it is because of the balance of diverse types of students: the quiet intellectuals who offer the clearest and most unexpected takes in classes, the intramural captains, the upperclassmen who make younger students feel welcome, the artists that beautify campus with their works. Campus would be nothing without extroverts to hold our introverted students together, and introverts to provide their thoughts, art, and experience alongside their extroverted classmates.
If you find yourself wanting a bigger social group than what you think St. John’s can offer, you can always reach out into the larger community. Boosting community engagement has been a priority for St. John’s for years now. Annapolis and Santa Fe are both vibrant towns with much worth exploring.
In Annapolis, we have the Socratic Society, which encourages Johnnies to participate in seminars with students and faculty from the neighboring Naval Academy, to help form a closer and better relationship between the two schools. There are also community engagement opportunities through volunteering, such as Project Polity, a student organization which volunteers in areas like tutoring underprivileged children, or Lighthouse, a non-St. John’s based organization which helps the homeless.
In Santa Fe, students can engage with the art world around them, including the third-largest art market in the United States. Crowds from around the town often converge on campus on summer Wednesday evenings for the popular Music on the Hill. Or students may bond over outdoor activities, either through the college’s programs, or through the many opportunities the city offers to engage with the natural world. Students at Santa Fe have the option to train in Search and Rescue through a campus program. There are also rich cultural heritage engagement opportunities, such as the National Hispanic Cultural Center and Institute for American Indian Arts.
As you can see, both introverts and extroverts have plenty of chance and ways to thrive at St. John’s College, so we would encourage any student to see that they have a place here. If you’re uncertain about how you think of yourself in the world, that’s even better, as you can explore new ways to be and to see yourself, by taking part in the different activities and social groups discussed above to see what suits you the best.