I am having trouble finding my place at Gonzaga. I was really excited to experience a new start in college and make new friends, but it hasn’t been that easy for me. I have always been friendly and have made a real effort in trying to hang out with people, but they aren’t reaching out in return. The group that I have been trying to fit in with never texts me back or always say they are too busy, but I see them hanging out all the time. It is discouraging, and it hurts. What can I do and how can I find good friends?
Dear Left Out,
Feeling left out is a natural part of life from time to time, and it is tough to deal with, especially when you’re in a new place that you had high hopes for. We are social beings and when we don’t feel plugged in, it can leave us feeling anxious and down.
Research shows that our brains process the pain of rejection in the same way it processes physical, traumatic pain. Everyone feels rejected at some point, and if we aren’t aware of it, the fear of rejection can condition us to quiet our voices and hinder us from trying important new things.
Please don’t dwell on this group that you are trying to fit in with. In the words of dancer Dita Von Teese, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there is still going to be someone that hates peaches.”
I only say this because as we each try to be our best selves in every situation, there will be times that it just isn’t going to work. It is not your fault, it’s just a part of life. We can all respect each other and be kind with one another, but never take it personally if you don’t fit in with a particular group of people in the way that you would have hoped.
There is a reason for everything. You might not know what it is right now, but with time there will be something that makes you thankful for this chapter in your life. I think everyone comes to a point in life where they really come to appreciate every “no” they’ve ever been told, because it really, truly made room for something better to come along.
Be real with yourself regarding what is going on in this situation. Maybe you’re being hard and down on yourself, and the people who caused you this pain aren’t even aware of it. It’s time to find something new to get excited about.
Luckily, college is one of the best places to meet new people. There are so many clubs and events going on all the time, so sign up for a bunch of things that you’ve always been curious about and give it your best shot.
An excellent book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, is also a great resource for understanding people.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” This strategy always really helps. Instead of finding a group to fit in with, start your own by investing in someone who is looking too.
Remind yourself of all the people who value you and all of the kind things that your real friends have told you over the years. It is normal that it takes a little time to find friends you click with. The best way to make true friends is to show up and be yourself.
Nicole Duke is an advice columnist. Follow her on Twitter @nicole_duke18.