So I started writing this post about two weeks ago but my sister, my toughest critic and editor (more like I force her to read it because my grammar is atrocious when I’m typing), kept telling me it wasn’t personal enough. She kept saying that I needed to give more of myself. You know what? She was 300% correct! I dislike discussing how much of a recluse I used to be, and still am, if I am being honest. I’ve always been embarrassed by it. It’s who I am though, and I’m done hiding it. I’m gonna talk about making friends, the awkwardness, the loneliness, and the awesomeness of it, and I’m also gonna talk about how important it is to stay true to yourself.
Firstly, I want to recognize that as much as I dread being in social situations I’ve also been very lucky as far as meeting people goes. Last week was the second week of the semester and I realised I had already made some new friends in my classes. In my drawing class, the girl sitting next to me started talking to me and was super nice and it blew my mind, not that she was talking to me but I realised that stuff like this happens to me all the time. I just don’t appreciate it for what it is: me making a friend. I’ve always had these opportunities to make friends but I guess in the past I was so stuck in my head that I didn’t take advantage of them. I’m not gonna do that anymore!
Making friends in university can be difficult. I think that is completely normal and okay. We all have this idea of what our life is supposed to be like. We see pictures on social media or in movies of people making friends easily, having so much fun, and going out a lot. We begin to think that that’s what life needs to be like all the time. This definitely works for some people (I think). Some people are able to make friends quick and easy in university, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But, it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to feel like you don't fit in. It's okay to be nervous about meeting people. It’s okay to be slow in forming friendships.
My issue personally was not wanting to go out with my friends all the time. Realizing who I was, and what it was I wanted was the first step towards feeling comfortable with who I am and forming real relationships.
I’m never going to be the most popular girl with plans to party every weekend, and to be honest the idea of that sounds like a special kind of hell for me. You see, I’m someone who likes spending time by myself. It’s something I need to do actually, in order to keep my anxiety in check. I used to think that made me lame, or not as cool as other people. I felt judged when I chose not be social. But the truth is I spent so much time worrying about what other people thought of me when I really needed to do was change how I thought of myself. I needed to think better of myself. I need to be me, and to do what made me happy.
By starting to be comfortable with who I truly am and not worrying about what other people think of me, I’m beginning to find the strength to put myself out there more. Once I stopped caring about judgment it became so much easier to make friends and I enjoyed being myself. I believe everyone needs to feel the joy of being their authentic selves, it liberating as hell!
When I went to university in New York I didn’t make too many friends but I did meet some wonderful people who could have been great friends if I had given it a real go. I wasn’t in the right state of mind though. I spent most of my days and nights by myself, crying in the bathroom that I shared with a roommate. I called my parents multiple times a day, and to this day I talk to my parents more than most of my friends. The RA on my floor once referred me to the counseling office because I wasn’t hiding my depression as well as I thought I was. I pretty much went from class straight to my room most days, ate by myself, and shopped by myself. I did pretty much everything on my own. I’ve got to point out though where I think all that is normal, to a certain degree, for people leaving home for the first time and living on their own, especially in a city like New York. Those experiences helped me appreciate what I have today. They also taught me a valuable lesson about being comfortable spending time by myself. When you move away from home you are bound to have more alone time than ever before. I think this is our time to fall in love with ourselves. To find our passion and to spend time working on it. Sometimes I wish I’d realised this earlier, it would have made life a lot more peaceful!
I’ve gotten wonderful people in my life today who I am so lucky to have. When I moved to Toronto I made friends pretty fast. This didn’t make me better than someone else, it just was the way it was. I think it happened cause I was more aware and present. Having friends is awesome, not gonna lie. They are my family away from home. At first though, it made me anxious cause I felt like I had to say yes to going out when I didn't want to, or I had to come up with an excuse not to. I was embarrassed that I felt this way, it felt less than “cool” and like I wasn’t normal. It used to worry me that I wouldn’t have any friends left. I’ve come to realise that it’s okay to recognize that there are things I don’t want to do and I believe it's okay to ask others to recognize it as well. It’s key when making friends, especially in university, not to forget yourself and your own needs. I used to be afraid that other people thought I was lame if I didn't want to go out, but really I thought I was lame. What I needed to do was let go of that and be proud of who I was. None of this negates the fact that I value and love my friends and our time together. I had to accept that my life wasn’t meant to look like anyone elses and that includes my social life and friends.
So I encourage everyone to let go of the illusion of what your life should be. I believe this is when things begin to fall into place. Get super comfortable with who you truly are. Be that person wholly and full heartedly. Realize that you don’t need to be the “cool” kid to have friends. Own your experiences; everything is teaching you something. Lastly, when the person next to you talks to you in class, see that for the opening that it is. You never know who could end up being your next friend. Sometimes we sit around for so long wishing for these opportunities that we don’t notice when they actually happen. Witness it, enjoy it, live it!