Introverts can have a hard time surviving in a world of extroverts. Mirja Michalscheck would like to see more room on the campus for people like her.
Text Juliette Berkhout
Mirja Michalscheck received her PhD on 6 March for her research on smallholder farm and farmer diversity.
Proposition: Introverts need more habitats on campus
‘In the realm of my research, we often talk about habitats, natural spaces for plants and animals. But you can also think about habitats for people. I would like to claim a little bit more space for people like me. I’m an introvert, and wish there were more quiet spaces on campus. During the summer, I found a good habitat for quiet lunch breaks in the high grass in front of Forum – that is until it got mowed. I know that mowing of grass can be delayed in order to protect birds or other species. Maybe we could also delay mowing for people?
Many parts of the campus seem to be designed for extroverts. Open office spaces, for instance. I recognize that they foster the exchange of ideas and information, but for me working in them was quite draining at times. When students and colleagues wanted to go out after office hours, I wanted to go home instead. I needed to recharge after spending my whole day in a group. Being in groups exhausts me.
However, I’m very attentive and good in one-to-one conversations. That inspired me to take a six-month coaching training at the university of Cologne while I was doing my PhD; I’m a certified coach now and work with young PhD researchers and postdocs like myself, providing space for self-reflection and support for good decision-making.
I hope that my proposition piques people’s curiosity and raises their awareness about the differences between extrovert and introvert people. I hope to encourage people who feel the same as me to take the space and the breaks that they need. Being introvert comes with a different set of valuable qualities and these can be supported by providing adequate working spaces and habitats on campus.’