By a second year NTU student, BA (Hons)Fashion Knitwear Design and Knitted Textiles
University can be a huge social challenge for many people who go there each year and it affects different people in different ways.
When we are thrown into such an intense environment after leaving home for the first time, it is only natural for us to want to be liked in order to regain that stability and comfort that we left behind at home. Initially, our nerves are overpowered by our excitement and desire to be independent however after that has worn off, dealing with our emotions can also be a challenge and a struggle; especially when confronted with peer pressure and anxiety.
The fear of being rejected paired with the desire to be accepted within social groups was definitely a struggle for me. I was used to having a solid, compassionate and carefree group of friends who always had my back. We had similar views and were comfortable around each other’s quirks and craziness. Suddenly, I was surrounded by the kinds of people I’d never encountered before. I didn’t feel like being myself was enough and tried too hard to be the confident, outgoing person I thought they would want to be friends with.
I have always struggled to admit when something is wrong and I have never been good at confrontation, so the fact that I tried to hide certain insecurities was just a natural reaction to living with people I didn’t know. I was so intent on making sure other people were happy that I allowed myself to be peer pressured into going on nights out, drinking alcohol and even dismissing my university work some evenings because I didn’t want to be considered ‘boring’.
However, during the second term of university, I started to get to know people properly and make really good friends. This encouraged me to open up to people and gave me the confidence to be myself, even if that meant sometimes feeling selfish because I was doing things for me and what I wanted to do rather than what other people wanted.
It is always scary letting your guard down and opening up to strangers as you don’t know how they’ll react or what they’ll think of you. However, what I realised was that everyone is insecure about something and talking about it can only make your situation better. Opening up to my friends and being able to be myself gave me the security that I’d been missing since being at home as I knew that I had the support and the trust and I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.
Transitioning into university and settling in can be hard. However don’t worry, help is at hand! Take a look at www.ntu.ac.uk/wellbeing for sources of support. You might also want to visit www.studentminds.org.uk/transitions for some helpful tips on navigating university life.