Have you just started uni? Are you worried about finding people who share your interests? Is everyone going out when you'd far rather sit at home watching a Hugh Grant movie? Or Die Hard? Or avant-garde French films? The start of uni can be nerve-wrecking, but when your university has upwards of 9, 000 students, no matter how lonely you feel, I guarantee there will be at least one other person who likes that obscure punk-metal band that you love; you just need to look for them. Emily Stamp gives us some consoling and calming words as we head into the new semester.
Some people will do anything to fit in; which normally includes going out and drinking because sometimes it seems like the only way to make friends (and if you enjoy it then go for it!) But that does not mean it is the only way to meet great people and not staying true to yourself can be more draining than people are willing to admit. Gaining a reputation for going out, especially if you don’t enjoy it, can mean feeling obliged to continue to do so and this only creates future stress.
As a self-proclaimed ‘grandma’ in a friendship group of 'mums’ I have faced these pressures before and it took me a while to stop listening to them and instead focus on my own wishes. One of the great things about a digital society is that ‘your people’ can be around the corner on a blog, in a Tumblr tag or on Youtube. They can also be at the most random of university societies, workplace events or your local community centre; and, even better, there are a wealth of online links to courses that you may enjoy. If you do not like drinking but love making coffee, sign up to a barista course. If you hate coffee but like flowers, then there will be a weekly flower-arranging course somewhere, where you can meet people.
When the world may seem narrowed into your immediate, obvious social circles, don’t forget that we now have the social mobility to try different things. Whether or not High School Musical was your thing, sticking to the ‘status quo’ no longer applies and if I learnt anything from that series it was that Zeke could play basketball and be a great baker. Maybe if he had also been in a baking club he would have found friends who accepted him for his hobby instantly.
We can contact millions of people instantly online so why restrict yourself to the obvious and if your ‘friends,’ or the people you just met, are not doing things you like then there is no need to be ashamed. I met more people by not going out on my corridor in my first year of university than by going out. I got to know a future housemate after she had returned from a night out, while I was baking at 1am (where she subtly ‘stole’ baking on multiple occasions) and, despite our different ideal evenings, we have stayed pretty good friends.
In a world full of labels don’t box people up based on one thing and, more importantly, don’t box yourself into a false label. Ignore labels completely or just use multiple different ones. It’s okay to belong to many groups. No one is insisting you only stick to one friendship group and if they are then find people who let you be yourself. Don’t feel a need to conform to other people’s stereotypes, do what you feel is right and enjoy meeting people with similar interests to you because forcing yourself to fit others’ ideals is painful in the long run. In risk of this article becoming even more clichéd, just be yourself and you will naturally find ‘your’ people (and if they don’t appear the internet can work wonders!)