September 5, 2017, by Andrew

Overcoming anxiety and peer pressure during Freshers week

If you’re anything like me, then the excitement of going to Uni might currently be battling (and maybe even losing) against fear, anxiety and nervousness. I was super worried about peer pressure when I was about to begin my undergrad, but I soon realised that few things are ever as scary or imposing in real life as we imagine them from midst of REM sleep.

I was socially anxious, wasn’t much into drinking, and night clubs gave me panic attacks. Suffice to say, I was not overly enthusiastic about freshers’ week. But I made, as I would urge you to make if you can relate, a promise to myself to be open minded and not to let anxiety hold me back. The wonderful thing about university these days is the volume of young people going means you can’t fail to find people to assimilate yourself with. But, crucially, you must seek out these people (friendships are rarely forged from the comfort of your duvet-pizza entrenchment. No matter how you feel on move-in day, get out and meet people. Knock on your flat-mates doors and introduce yourself; wonder around the block and see what’s going on. In short, get yourself out there. Of course, some people will only want to stay in on their own, others will be their binary opposite, but by introducing yourself to enough people, you WILL find people who want to do the things you want to do – whatever they are. You don’t have to follow a set group of people and only do what they want just because they’re there.

The vast majority of people you meet will be fundamentally similar to yourself, we just all have our own small differences. It might sometimes feel like you have to go along with whatever the group you’ve attached yourself to wants to do (herd mentality and all that), but from my experience most people I’ve met were incredibly respectful of the fact that I didn’t enjoy everything they did and were perfectly willing to make compromises that we could all enjoy once I told them. The key detail here, however, is that I told them. Overcoming nervousness or anxieties requires confidence. I met a fantastic bunch of friends from many different courses in my first month at uni, and four years later we’re still going strong.

It’s okay to be scared, to want to hide and to want to run away. What matters is that you find your own way of meeting the kind of people you want to hang out with, and that requires you to take the first step out your own room. So sign up to whatever daft or fantastical societies take your interest, try a new sport, get yourself an obscure fancy dress costume and go and enjoy yourself.

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