By Noor Adilah (17S06B), Featured image credits here.
If you’ve gone on the Internet at all over the past few years, you’ve probably stumbled upon way too many quizzes and listicles that describe or categorise your behaviour as characteristic of an introvert or an extrovert. After reading and answering a few of those soul-sucking pages, I’ve concluded that I am somehow an introvert, extrovert, and an ambivert, the latter describing the state in which you’re (for some reason) both an introvert and extrovert.
These horrible click-baity webpages are maddening, but strangely gratifying. There’s nothing like misjudging your own character (turns out, I’m not timid — I just like to keep to myself and process my surroundings), answering questions about your favourite topic (yourself) and then feeling satisfied about your newfound identity (the Intellectual Introvert, or the Entrepreneuring Extrovert you always knew you were).
Taking enough of those quizzes may not give an accurate answer about who exactly you are, but they may nonetheless allow for a rare moment of introspection about your behaviour around others. One question that applies greatly to one’s first few moments in JC would be this: “Do you gain energy from being around and interacting with other people?” Understanding how you interact with the people around you is very important in navigating your way through your first few months in RI – a confident yes! or a grumbly no, not really, can determine the tenor of your orientation experience.
During orientation, one is put through a series of Social Challenges, which include constantly introducing yourself to strangers, shouting a lot, dancing, and spending more than 12 hours interacting with people non-stop over the course of the week. While I consider myself a generally outgoing person who enjoys listening and talking to people, I have to admit – I almost without any capacity to continue the dinners outside school after orientation with my OG mates (who are, in their own right, wonderful people). By the time I got home, I would be so completely spent that I didn’t have enough energy to talk to my own family before going to sleep. This continued for the entire length of orientation. By the last day, I was willing for it to be over, not because of the programme (which was wonderfully planned and executed), or because of the people, and much less because of the activities: I was simply way too tired of social interaction all the time.
During the course of this year, I learned many lessons about how I could have navigated Orientation better, and how we can all learn different ways to treat each other better to make Orientation an experience everyone can enjoy fully.
Personal Interaction > Group Interaction
One thing that most people can agree on is that one-on-one interaction is often much less intimidating and more personal than speaking to a large group at once. That’s why we don’t usually begin acquainting ourselves with each other until the first face-to-face conversation. Icebreakers, when executed well, are great for building team dynamics, but personal interaction ensures you become closer to your OG mates and nail your introductions the first time around.
Try to find pockets of time during the first day of orientation to personally acquaint yourself with every single person in your OG (including your OGLs!). Once you gain a more personal understanding of them as individuals, spending long periods of time with them becomes much less laborious, and more enjoyable.
While orientation is all about getting out of your comfort zone, we all have certain basic boundaries that would just make us more comfortable and less tired in the long run. Sometimes, everyone needs to take the time to think about the behaviours that might drain each other, and ourselves. I know for a fact that I definitely pushed myself too much to attend every single OG dinner, even when I was dragging myself to them by the third day onwards.
There’s really nothing wrong with going home after a whole day’s worth of interaction. The way I see it, it’s better to have fewer enjoyable dinners where you have enough energy to have fun with your friends than moping around for every. single. dinner. And if your OG is bonded enough, you’ll definitely have enough time after Orientation to spend with them in and out of school.
Having more sleep is great too.
Taking Breaks, and Learning to Give Your OG Mates Time to Rest
In line with the spirit of taking breaks from dinner every once in a while, taking breaks during orientation can also be a saving grace for the easily drained. And if you see that your friend needs some alone time as well, sometimes the best thing you can do is give them space to have a breather.
Not every activity, especially the fun little games during lunch breaks, needs the full participation of everyone. I once saw an OGL encourage an unwilling OGling to participate in an informal game of truth or dare with more force than was necessary.
Given the nature of teenage truth or dare, and his apparent fatigue, it was understandable why he didn’t want to play it. I maintain that the best games of truth and dare happen when all participants are willing. There’s a difference between a shy group member who needs encouraging, and a tired friend who needs to recharge with a box of KFC on the roof of Nex at 11pm.
Of course, orientation is meant to take you out of your depth, to socially stretch you, to get you out of your comfort zone. But even rubber bands can break, and we don’t want to be the reason our friends snap. Take time to understand each other well, respect each other, and keep the camaraderie alive with bantz — and your OG mates might just be your friends for a long, long time.