FITTING IN ON YOUR OWN TERMS
Going to university, moving away from home is a part of life that most people will encounter. Some students see the transition as an exciting fresh start, whereas others may consider the experience a terrifying challenge. It can be overwhelming to think about creating a bunch of new connections and forming a new group of friends. We all want to feel accepted, so it’s natural to be a little bit anxious or self-conscious when you’re trying to forge new relationships.
Friends are a huge part of what makes your university journey fun. Some of your favorite memories in university will probably involve the friends you’ve made there. After all, university is about so much more than just going to class and doing well on exams. Friendship is rewarding and enriching, but it is not always easy to make friends and fit into the circle. Socializing and making friends come easily to some people, but for others, it can be anxiety-inducing. If the idea of meeting new people at university is scary to you, don’t worry — it’s totally normal! Not everyone is born confident, and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you; there are undoubtedly others who feel the same way. It’s all part of making new friendships, and you’ll soon feel more relaxed as you get to know who you’re dealing with and understand more about each other.
In this article, Swinburne Vietnam offers some tips and tricks on how to cope with social anxiety and fit in the community on your own terms!
Be yourself and keep it real! (Don’t be too stressed about fitting in)
This is one of the simplest pieces of advice in theory, but it can be hard for some people. Your friendships won’t be genuine if you aren’t your genuine self. Thus, before you try to make new friends, it is more important to spend some time working on yourself. The more well-rounded a person you are, the easier it will be to talk to others, and you will feel more confident. When you’re meeting new people, it can be tempting to try to be someone you’re not to impress them, or tell white lies to portray yourself a little “cooler” …but don’t give in to temptation! Stay true to yourself and your interests.
Take care of yourself, take up a new hobby, learn to play an instrument, join a club … anything that you can do to become more comfortable with who you are. Find out what you’re passionate about will make it easier to find like-minded people and make friends. But also, be yourself, never compromise your beliefs, values, or morals because of a friendship. If you suffer from social anxiety, remember, you’re not alone. You can use your anxiety to connect and empathize with others who also share the feeling. Don’t be afraid to admit your nervousness either – it can put others at ease and they may well make an extra effort to help you feel comfortable.
Leave your comfort zone
You’re probably already a little out of your comfort zone at university, so why not take a step even further out of it? Scrolling through Instagram or watch Netflix, you’re not going to make new connections. You’ve got to put yourself out there! There are plenty of ways to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
You don’t need to be friends with everybody (Again, fitting in with your preferred circles)
While it’s great to have lots of friends, ultimately you should focus on quality over quantity. You don’t have to worry about making as many friends as possible. The reality is, you won’t be friends with everyone, and you don’t have to be!
Before engaging people, you can look for potential friends. While doing so, the best places to start are also the easiest – your interests. Do you join any student clubs? Do you know someone who has a large circle of friends? It’s important not to be too picky in the beginning. Anyone can potentially be your friend, first impressions are not necessarily the best indicators of who could become a long-term friend.
However, you don’t have to please everyone! If you try to make everyone happy, it’s probably going to backfire on you. You also don’t have to say “yes” to every hangout or party you get invited to. Just like you can get burned out from studying and working too much, you can also get social burnout from socializing non-stop, especially if you’re naturally introverted. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone but don’t push yourself too hard!
Get their contacts and keep in touch
Make sure to get contact information from the people that you meet. Whether it’s their mobile numbers or a link to their social media pages, find a way to reach out to them. The most critical step in making friends is both accepting invitations and making plans with others. Do your best not to turn down any invitations. If you turn people down often enough they will stop asking you to do things. Be patient as your friendship grows. Once you have begun to form friendships, it is important to stay connected. Over time you will come to learn how often certain people stay in touch. Be sure to do your part to contact your new friends and make plans. With modern means of communication, it’s much more convenient to keep in touch with those that you meet.
Alone time is essential, too!
All of this being said, it’s super important to spend some time by yourself once in a while, in order to recharge, reflect, and take care of yourself. Especially if you’ve been really busy and feel exhausted, it’s time to take a break! One of the most important relationships you’ll ever have is the relationship you have with yourself. Do what feels right for you.
Don’t expect instant results (It’s OK if you’re not fitting in as quickly as you thought)
Last but not least, don’t be disappointed if you don’t make any friends on your first day. That’s okay! Don’t let it get you down or make you feel discouraged. You’ll find your people with time. Building friendships takes time and mutual effort. Once you have made new friends, be careful not to take them for granted.
University is a whole new chapter that should be seen with bright eyes. You can’t think negatively about the what-ifs. This is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and start afresh. You are who you want to be. Our social anxieties will always be in the back of our heads but remember that you are in control of your body and mind. Make that a motto and accomplish what you set out to do.
Making friends takes time, but if you feel that you cannot meet new people or the idea of trying to meet new people is too frightening or overwhelming, find the Student HQ team.
Follow Swinburne Vietnam’s fanpage and join us to celebrate the Wellbeing Week and create a safe, loving community!
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