Struggling to form meaningful connections
Hey everyone, I'm new here, just thought writing it here might help. I'm 19 and I've just finished my first year of uni. Throughout the year and still now, I'm struggling to connect with people. Whenever I try it just feels forced and awkward, especially during small talk. Right after exchanging greetings my head usually just goes blank and when I ask them questions and they do the same I find that either me or both of us give each other short and blunt answers. I have met some people and they seem nice, but I get bored with them right after. They talk about celebrities, shows, and sports which I don't really care much for, and so far I haven't found anything in common with them. Throughout high school I was a people pleaser and because of that I've never really gotten close to anyone to the point where I could be my authentic self, I've just sort of went along with everyone. In the majority of my friendships I was the listener and they were the talker. But now that highschool's over, I'd like to break that cycle and actually meet people who reciprocate my efforts and share the same interests as me. I guess the reason why I haven't gotten to yet is because I don't know who I am. How am I supposed to connect with others when I haven't connected with myself yet, after numbing myself for so long? When uni starts, I'm planning to join clubs, maybe in that way I'll find myself. Any tips or experiences? Would love to hear them
Thank you for being vulnerable about your experiences, I feel and relate! I think you've made a good point of not being able to connect with others because you haven't been able to connect with yourself. I think before uni starts, it might be a good idea to have a think about what it is that you like to do - what are your hobbies, how do you like to spend your free time, what are your core values, are there any hobbies/activities that you have been wanting to try out but haven't had the chance to etc. Through that, you might be able to identify any clubs or subjects (if you have electives in your course) to try out at uni. Having that immediate shared interest with other members/classmates might allow you to form less surface level connections with people as you have something to discuss.
I think it might also help to join any Facebook groups (if you have Facebook) for your university and course cohort. Through there, you might be able to find out information about any events and clubs as well as being able to connect with others.
I think I had to adjust to the fact that not everyone has the same expectations around engagement as I do. There will be some people that just want to show up for class and have no interest in forming friendships and others that love the idea of making new friends. In my experience, I had to put myself out of my comfort zone by introducing myself and initiating conversations in order to make new friends. The first couple of interactions can be so awkward and there are some people that I just did not connect with and that's okay. The great thing is you can choose who you might want to engage with.
There are so many people that I spoke to that feel the same way that you and I do about the social aspect. Hopefully with your upcoming orientation day/week you might be able to explore and introduce yourself to some of the clubs and its' members and gauge what might peak your interest too.
All the best 😀
I am sorry this has been happening! I feel like the time between high school and uni exacerbates these feelings, I know I had them - it is hard to make connections when you are not in a forced environment like school, or at least feel a part of something. Uni is a whole different world. As you said, I would DEFINITELY encourage joining a club - I met some of my closest uni friends by joining a club and getting involved in uni life - there are pub crawls, balls and other events that most clubs host, where you can meet others from your course too. In class, try to break the ice with others - everyone is thinking the same as you and it is easier to find some friends in the first year before everyone establishes their friend groups.
Hopefully, you will find uni to be different - you seem motivated to break out of your comfort zone, so I think you should be able to form some meaningful relationships! I hope it goes well.
Definitely will be introspective this month so I find what I like, who I am, and along the way hopefully meet some great people that I can genuinely connect and be myself with. Uni feels completely different and unexpectantly a lot more independent in the social aspect too, than I would have thought. Its great to know that I'm not the only one feeling this way. I feel a lot more confident about putting myself out there, and exploring what things I truly enjoy, thank you!
Thank you so much for your input! Yea! During high school specially in the junior grades the community felt stronger in a way because of the forced environment like what you said. Uni on the other hand feels a lot more isolating but this year I'll do something about it this time. I will definitely join the clubs now for sure, thank you 🙂 !
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