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Insecurity.

Low self-esteem.

Perceived rejection.

These are the feelings that are seemingly hidden behind the mask of Freshers Week.

University can be the best time of your life. It is a chance to make long-lasting friendships, learn from professors who are experts in their subject area, and experience the big wide world outside of the family home.

But there is another side to starting university, one which isn’t glamourised in the news or spoken about at sixth-form. And that is dealing with the emotions, thoughts and feelings that arise when dealing with a new environment. This is most apparent in the first few weeks of university, when social events take place and friendships are being formed.

Amidst the haze and whirlwind of Freshers Week, it may get to the point where you start to wonder: am I fitting in? Why are those girls hanging out but haven’t invited me? Why do I feel lonely when last night I felt on top of the world? I didn’t go to clubbing last night, will I now be an outsider? Have I missed out?

Let me tell you this. How you feel is how most people feel when starting university. Seriously. It is only in hindsight and having spoken to university friends that I have learned just how terrified everyone feels during those first few weeks or months. It is amazing what persona people can put on during the quest for acceptance amongst one’s peers.

It is also important to gain some perspective about meeting new people. Sometimes you know straight away when you’ve made a potential new friend. And sometimes you realise who doesn’t quite match your personality.

But once the adrenaline subsides are you the hubbub begins to settle, doubts may start to creep into your mind. Have you ever thought: hey, they are best friends now, I don’t understand why I’m not being invited to all of the parties or telling my deepest darkest secrets with Sally from the next room in halls. They all want to sit next to each other in lectures and I’m just tagging along. No-one would notice if I sat by myself.

It is important to remember this: relationships (and this includes friendships) don’t form overnight – not those which will stand the test of time. These strong bonds develop over months; years. Just think about the friends you have from back home. Those who mean the most won’t leave your life. In fact, going to university or moving away is a real test of any friendship. Having graduated from university a couple of years ago, I can see this now. I ended up becoming good friends from people from outside of my course – those I hadn’t even met until the second term, or even the second year of uni. And my closest friends are from all across my life’s journey: former colleagues, people I’ve met through voluntary work, my best friend from childhood, a very small handful from school, a couple of friends from my university and some more from a different London university whom I met towards the end of my first year. I know that these people will be my friends even if we don’t live in the same city, or we don’t meet up as much as we’d like. Life takes over, but these friendships remain.

My final piece of advice is this: enjoy Freshers Week. It is an experience like no other. But try to remember who you are. It’s good to step outside your comfort zone, but don’t go beyond your limits – respect yourself, and others will respect you. Don’t worry about being called the “boring one” for not taking 10 shots of tequila. And don’t feel like you don’t deserve to join your flatmates on a trip to Nando’s, just because you never received that text message – it’s nothing personal. And if these doubts start to creep into your mind, don’t fret. Chances are, most people are feeling the same.

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