The first couple of weeks of Uni were incredibly isolating for me. I was spending more time alone than I ever had done before and I didn’t feel like I was making the great friendships I’d been promised.
I’d been told to expect so much from Freshers – that everyone would want to be my friend, I’d go out every night and overall have the time of my life. In reality, I only regularly see one person out of all the people I met in freshers now I’m in my third year. I met all of my other friends over a much longer period – in fact, some of my best friends now are people I only met in second year. I felt isolated and scared and like I wasn’t having the freshers everyone else was having. It only dawned on me that we were all feeling the same way when a girl I’d become close to told me she was going to drop out. I was amazed – up until this point I’d thought she was having the best time – she always seemed really happy and like she was making friends really easily, but looking back on it, I guess anyone else would have said the same about me.
When she dropped out I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to make any new friends – I’d kind of wiggled my way into her friendship groups and was relying on her to make friends for me. Yet, within a week or two I’d found myself a group of course-mates, creating a friendship group that is still going strong today.
I still feel lonely sometimes now, but it’s much more manageable. When you’re feeling isolated, it’s really easy to feel like you’re the only person who’s having a bad time – but the truth is feeling lonely at Uni is completely normal and happens to everyone. You’re completely independent for what is probably the first time and you have to learn to enjoy your own company, cook alone, maybe eat alone sometimes, organise yourself, walk to lectures alone, and that can be overwhelming at times no matter how long you’ve been a student.
Here are some bits of advice that I’ve learnt over theyears:
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to be sociable all the time.
Sometimes your flatmates are going to go out and you’re going to be the only one at home for the evening. Remember: that is okay. Staying at home when everyone else is out is NOT the end of the world. You don’t need to go to every club event or hit the pub every night; there’s no quota of nights out that you need to fill every week. Go at your own pace and don’t base how much you should be hanging out with people on others.
- Talk to people about it.
If you’re feeling isolated and you don’t feel like your friends are reaching out to you enough, tell them. If you have the right friends, they will try their best to include you more in their plans and spend more time with you. Organise stuff with them that you can look forward to! Sometimes it can be really disheartening trying to organise stuff with someone who seems to be never around, so try a different friend who you might not have chatted to as much – they might end up having way more in common with you.
- Join societies.
If you didn’t make friendships that lasted in first year, join a few societies and put yourself out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re no longer a fresher, you can still join new societies! People in societies are there for a reason, they want to meet people who have the same interests as them. It’s as simple as that. Pick a few societies you’re interested in, go along and chat to a few people. If you go to UOB like me then head to something like Bad Film Society – everyone there is lovely and it’s a dumb society where they just watch films and have fun!
Remember that feeling lonely isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Talk to someone about it – they will have undoubtedly felt the same atsome point. If you need someone new to talk to you can always send me a DM.