Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Art of Making New Friends

Image thanks to lanuiop

Are you struggling to build a group of friends at university? Are you a fresher who suspects that you might? Do you often find it hard to relate to people, or notice your social habits amount to drunken escapades every night just because you feel it’s the only way you’ll ever bond with your peers? Well, it’s time to get a few things straight.

Whether you’re a fresher newly severed from your existing collective, or a second or third year who’s fallen by the wayside of the student social trail, there are a few important things you should remember:

• Remember what a friend is. A friend is someone who you'll want to spend time with; a person to make you giggle, cheer you up, inspire you, and generally enrich your life. A friend is not a default person to sit with at lunch so you don't look like a loner, or another number in your facebook contacts.

• Don’t aim to make friends for a potential boost in social status. If you do you will be inherently failing to make any real, lasting friendships. Look for qualities you respect in others and build friendships upon that, don't just grab and grasp at members of the 'it' group.

• Disregard any notions you may have of needing to be 'popular' as you are essentially plotting your own downfall. The people who contrive to be popular are generally the ones who are internally unsatisfied and lack any real confidence as individuals, therefore they hunt down as much exterior approval as they can get. People who find themselves popular almost by accident tend to be people with a positive self-image and a relaxed nature; they attract numerous friends without even realising it.

• Don’t be a sheep. Following the crowd, fitting in, succumbing to the ‘norm’ – it’s all a load of bull if you aren’t really happy. If everybody is going out and drinking ‘til the early hours, don’t just play along if it’s not what you’re into. Again, if you want lasting friendships, you need to be yourself. A drinking buddy is rarely someone who really presses your buttons as a long term pal, seek out the people who will with the odd, genuine, sober conversation!

• Recognise and reconsider any 'regulations' you've been subconsciously applying to potential new friends. It's that age old quote, but 'don't judge a book by its cover.' A great friend could be right under your nose and you're ignoring them because they don't tick every box in your potential best friend file. So they're a hippy, a rocker, a nerd, we've all seen The Breakfast Club (and if we haven't, we should); friends are to be found in all kinds of funny shapes and sizes, especially at university. Let down your barriers and see where it gets you because, if nothing else has worked for you, this is probably where you've been going wrong.

• Consider how valuable you are as a friend to others. If all other 'tricks' you've tried have failed, why not just relax and let good friends find you? Focus on what a great friend you can be above everything else, then simply aim to demonstrate that to any new people you meet.

• Desperation is never attractive in any sense. Above all, be a friend to yourself, respect who you are, your knowledge, your humour, your talent, your aesthetic, your triumphs and even your failings. Believe me, others will catch on.

What have your experiences been of making friends at university or college?


erica said...

I'm surprised there aren't any comments on this yet! I found this so helpful. Last year after my ex and I broke up I continued to hang out with his friends bc they were really the only people I knew at school. Soon enough, though, I found out that only a handful of them really had anything in common with ME. They were HIS friends for a reason. Anyway, thanks so much for this! <3

Anonymous said...

i really like this post! the usual article on how to make friends practically directs someone how to socialize...as if the problem is that we don't know how -_-. THANKS!

Anonymous said...

Reading this really meant allot to me. I´ve just moved from Norway to England for uni, and I find it challenging to build up the confidence to make friends without having to go out clubbing, which isn´t my thing at all. I´ve met some nice people who´s really supportive and nice. I´m worrying that we are really different, but reading that you should/can have friends in all shapes and sizes made me think. I´ve only been here for four days, and I feel that I should be making hundreds of great friends allready. But that´s not realistic, is it?

Voila Megan said...

Anon from Norway - I truly salute you for not falling into the 'going out clubbing' trap, keep it up! Never compromise yourself for the sake of 'fitting in'.

There's a difference between making 'hundreds of great friends' and just 'hundreds of friends', great friends are rare, and if it's those true, lasting relationships you're after then you're right, it's not realistic to expect them over night. Build on the friendships you've already started, stay in touch with people back home, stop over-thinking and just be yourself! Cliche but true, you attract the best of friends when you're not even trying!

Thanks for reading ♥

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