You’ve just arrived in class and you sit down. You start looking around and realise that everyone already seems to have built solid friendships. You look around at all the unfamiliar faces. It quickly dawns on you that everyone is talking to someone.You feel incredibly alone.
But you’re not alone. And certainly not the only one feeling this way.
Every student starting in a new school or university worries about making friends. No matter how cool or well put together one’s appearance may be, that worry niggles inside us all.
Next time you are in class or a lecture, if you look around enough, you will also see another face possibly in the same predicament. You are not alone. Most people experience this. No matter how solid some groups may seem, it doesn’t mean that they are impenetrable or that no one wants to become friends with you.
Making friends takes different amounts of time for different people. Some people find a circle immediately, and for some (including me!), it takes a little while longer. So don’t fret if you find yourself in this predicament a few months in!
It’s also very easy to to think that your old school friends are enough and you don’t need new ones. However, you never know when you may need someone to talk to who is actually from your current school. Plus, talking to new people will broaden your view of the world, experiences and personal growth as an individual.
I was one of those people who had a core group of friends from my previous school, and thus I became very lazy with starting and maintain new friendships in my new university which was to my own detriment. During exam or coursework season, I would battle through the stress alone and lament about how having a friend in the same class would have helped me get through difficult workloads.
Here is some advice on how to make new friends
How you perceive and treat yourself will help you to understand who you are. Understanding and loving yourself will allow you to know what type of friendships you are looking for and the type of people you want to surround yourself around. Knowing and loving yourself will allow you to gravitate towards people who are like you, thereby allowing you to make meaningful, long term bonds with them.
By being a friend to yourself first, you can appreciate all your beautiful qualities while also stopping those little voices that compare you to others.
Look, I get it! Being in a different environment and trying to make friends can be really hard. Some of the ways we try to cope is to quickly adapt to the surroundings by moulding ourselves to the type of people around us. Sometimes we change ourselves in clear ways, but quite often, changes are more subtle.
In my first year of university, I had not realised the ways in which I subtly changed to fit into my new environment. Naturally, I’m a homebody and enjoy quiet nights in. But in my first few months of university, I went out nearly every weekend, forcing myself to be extroverted and chatty (far from my usual self). I was left exhausted, drained and with few strong friendships to show for it all. If I had been more honest with myself, stayed in more often and interacted with those who stayed behind, I probably would have found deeper friendships sooner.
Emulating the actions and behaviours of others that are not true to your own character becomes a slippery slope to unfulfillment and alienation.
Staying true to your character will allow you to build strong friendships that are based on ‘realness’ and mutual compatibility. Popularity fades but who you are remains the same, so it’s better to stay true to yourself and have friendships for life.
During those lonely first few minutes of a class or a lecture, resist the urge to look at your phone or go on your laptop as a coping mechanism to fight away the awkwardness. By seeming preoccupied in other things, we shut ourselves off from everyone around us thus creating a condition that makes it seem that we do not want to talk to anyone.
So trust me, put the phone down and look around! You’ll see a number of faces willing to engage with you or who look just as nervous as you. Introducing yourself to new people whenever possible will break the ice and make the person next to you more comfortable talking to you. A simple smile or hello to the stranger next to you, will help to show your neighbour that you are friendly and open to talk. It may not open up a dialogue immediately, but chances are the next time you run into that person, they will smile back and be more likely to make some small chitchat in the future. You can also take it further by complimenting them, asking how they are or where they are from. And do not forget, body language can speak louder than words! Making sure you don’t cross your arms or legs and keeping your head up can help you seem more approachable to others.
You may meet someone who invites you to do things that are not 100% your cup of tea, but if you do get along with them, take the opportunity to try something you wouldn’t necessarily do. Going with the flow can sometimes allow you to connect to people on a deeper level, and you never know if you may end up enjoying yourself. Being open to other people and their interests may help you discover many things about yourself and others. Better to have tried than not at all but keep in mind the second tip and only continue doing new things that are fulfilling to you.
Social media is a great way to cultivate friendships with new people beyond class time. If you feel good vibes from someone you’ve just introduced yourself to, asking for their socials is a great way to continue the connection outside of class. Sometimes waiting a week or until the next day to talk to them again can prolong the start of a budding friendship. Sharing social media will make it easier to contact them outside of class, and you can talk to them without the added face to face awkwardness that we all sometimes feel. Also, social media will allow you to get a better glimpse into their personality, interests and experiences. PLUS who doesn’t love checking out people’s social media!
Sometimes the people in your immediate vicinity or in your classes or lectures may not be the people you connect with. Class or lectures are not the only opportunities for you to make friends. Extracurricular activities, such as clubs or societies, are one of the best ways to find like-minded people. These are spaces where you at least know that you have something in common. Yes, it is probably a tip you have heard before to tell you to join societies to make friends, but it genuinely it is one of the easier ways to make friends that is why so many people stress it. Challenge yourself to join a society of an activity in which you are not very skilled such as a Running Club or a language society such as Japanese. Joining clubs outside of your comfort zone may be daunting, but putting yourself in these situations will allow you to grow and form friendships in unlikely scenarios.
If societies aren’t really your thing, you can instead explore clubs and events within your town or city to meet new people.
Just putting yourself out there can bring about unexpected opportunities. You may not necessarily be best friends with the first person you meet in a club or society, but they may introduce you to someone you could have a bond with.
Making friends is neither always easy or quick, it takes effort and time. And most importantly, loving and staying true to yourself will eventually attract genuine, strong friendships with others. Friends are hard to make, and lamenting on your lack of friends will not make you feel any better. Instead, spend that lamenting time going out and trying to meet new people. It may seem hard now, but remember friendships will be made, and one day you will look back on this period grateful for how it helped you grow!
If making friends is taking longer than you would like, REMEMBER you will always have friends and a community in the #SundayIvySquad
The Sunday Ivy Squad will always have your back! Whether it is through makeup tips, memes, sharing looks and experiences or just through connecting with the wider community on our social media.
P.S. Check out some of the amazing people from our squad on our Sundays With Series and read about some of the amazing people in the Sunday Ivy Squad