Why you shouldn’t worry if you haven’t made friends during Freshers’
When I moved to uni, I was fresh out of my gap year. I had just formed deep friendships with like-minded people whom I’d met on the first day of my travels and connected with instantly. Although I was a Highly Sensitive Person who’d always been shy and had social anxiety, I had gained so much confidence just before I began university that I thought I’d find making friends in Freshers’ Week a breeze.
I was wrong. For whatever reason, despite meeting tonnes of fellow first-years and chatting to a dozen new people a day, throughout the entirety of Welcome Week and Week 1, I never felt that I clicked with any of the people I talked to, or that they were even interested in talking to me.
Eventually, after the first few weeks I found amazing friends, and I have compiled a list of Dos and Don’ts to show you how I got there.
Be honest with people you speak to. I remember feeling embarrassed that I hadn’t got anyone to call my best buddies after one week. This is not something that reflects on you as a person at all! Chat to others about how you’re struggling. Everyone asks how you’re finding uni so far, so you can easily weave this into a conversation. One girl I mentioned my situation to immediately added me on Facebook and told me I could hang out with her whenever I wanted. Two years later, I still cherish her friendship.
Seek out others who are going through the same thing. Leading on from my previous point, if you let others know that you’re finding it difficult to make friends, they might just pipe up and admit that they’re in the same position. I one day noticed a random girl’s message in my course group chat asking if anyone else was finding it hard to fit in. Replying to this with a simple “me too!” led to hanging out with her, and ended up facilitating a deep and fun-filled friendship.
Keep trying. This applies especially to people with whom you’re going to have to see continuously (flatmates, we’re looking at you). Even if they don’t seem like your exact type of people at first, or are distant or reserved, there are always new questions you can ask about their home lives or their course. People open up when they get talking about themselves. Chances are, they like you and are grateful you’re speaking to them, but are too shy to say it!
Research your options. Many forget this, but if you are in university accommodation it is possible to change flats. This can be done by visiting the Accommodation desk on the ground floor of the Carrington building. It may seem like an extreme action to take, but if after a few weeks you are seriously unhappy with the people you are living with, it is worth considering.
Let anxiety hold you back. Please remember that everyone is in the same boat as you and will be happy to have someone approach them with a friendly face.
Overthink. As much as we all like to see the best in others, there will be times when people you try to chat to will seem to have no interest in you. This can be discouraging, but remember that firstly, this is not always the case, and secondly, even if it is, having one person who doesn’t click with you does not mean everyone else is going to dislike you as well. Different people see different things in each person they meet. For more likeminded people, go to society socials and sign up to the Buddy Scheme on RUSU’s website to find a friend to go along with.
If anyone reading this is struggling to find friends, I get you. I get the awkwardness you feel as you walk through campus alone and the loneliness that plagues you. But I encourage you not to give up reaching out to new people or remaining open to new conversations. You never know which person who next walks through the door will become your best friend for the next three years and beyond.
Written by Sabita Burke