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A treasure hunt for introvert space

A student shows how Taylor is geared for extroverts

Sonya Downing | Contributor

Dorms. The student center. Euler’s seating areas. The couch clusters in Zondervan, Nussbaum and Rupp. Extrovert space overflows from Taylor like gold and jewels from a treasure chest, but where is the introvert space? Is there any?

“It seems true that introverts often need to be alone to recharge, if I could say it that way,” Professor of Psychology Mark Cosgrove said. “They need more quiet to feel the rewards of Dopamine.  Extroverts recharge in social settings,”

I, an introvert, embarked on a treasure hunt for introvert space. Before I could start, though, I needed a definition — a map — of what I was looking for.

Introvert expert and bestselling author Susan Cain collaborated with Steelcase Office Furniture Solutions to design introvert-friendly rooms. In Steelcase’s article “The Quiet Ones,” Cain stated introvert space must provide permission to be alone, user control over the environment, sensory balance and a sense of being protected from the world.

First, I explored English Hall. Dorm rooms seem like the obvious place to look, but closed doors don’t provide permission to be alone. Even during the day, your roommate or friends can pop in whenever they’re feeling chatty.

Junior Deborah Settles spends reads in a rare quiet spot

Junior Deborah Settles spends reads in a rare quiet spot.

Senior Hope Bolinger, former English resident, tried to avoid this problem by choosing a dorm known for being quiet. Instead, her floor was so loud she couldn’t think. English drained Bolinger because the constant noise intruded on the four of the needs Cain described.

My travels brought me to Nussbaum and Euler next. They’re fairly empty during school hours, and the quiet is appealing, but these areas aren’t tucked out of sight. This lures introverts into exposed places where that one friend who thinks headphones mean “come talk to me!” can spot them.

The student center is fool’s gold, too, but it doesn’t fool anyone because it’s crowded. If introverts can’t find a table, let alone a couch in a quiet corner, they feel like they don’t have control over their space.

The crowd also makes the student center loud. Since introverts can’t request people to pipe down the way they can in dorms, students in need of quiet time definitely can’t find it there.

The two prayer chapels shine like diamonds to introverts; they’re empty all day and all night. The Sickler chapel’s seclusion, adjustable lighting and comfortable pews are every introvert’s dream come true. The Memorial Prayer Chapel’s rooms are great, too, but said rooms get hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

Another impurity in these gems is that occasionally, a couple may walk in on you, or vice versa. Depending how drained introverts are that day, they may or may not want to risk the ensuing awkwardness to attain their bounty.

The library, though less private, still twinkles with peace and quiet. Bolinger often seeks its refuge. Not only does the first floor feature desks hidden far in the back, but the upstairs study rooms give introverts the motherlode: a force field against the world, overstimulation and talkative friends.

For all their beauty, these priceless jewels have one fatal flaw: they’re popular. Bolinger can seldom find an empty one to recharge in.

Taylor may be a treasure trove of space, but introverts can only enjoy a few measly pieces of the booty. The popularity of the prayer chapels and study rooms shows that Taylor students value quiet places, but there simply aren’t enough to go around.

Until Taylor finds a cost-effective way to change that, Bolinger advises introverts to crash a friend’s apartment and make introverted friends. From there, they can do what college students do best: make the best of what they have.

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