When you go off to university (or any new stage of your life), you have this opportunity to make the best pick n’ mix bag of your life when it comes to making your friends. More so than at any other time in your life. You have three or four years when you have full (99.9%) control over who you spend your time with. Unlike what a lot of people, including myself, think about university, the time you spend in lectures is nowhere near as much time as you spend in school (unless you’re a med student, please ignore that, it’s longer for you, in fact I'm honoured you are spending your free time reading this). So if you hate the people on your course, you have a million other opportunities to meet people to hang with. But just like the sweets you would pick, the friends you pick reflect you to a certain extent and will often start to shape who you become. I think the way friends work, is that you tend to attract people that are similar to you into your life. Well, the ‘you’ you portray to the world, you get what you give.
Coming from school where I had such a close group of friends that I very much defined myself by, I did have a moment when I thought to myself ‘what happens if I go to uni and I don’t know who I am without them?’. I was quite lucky that when it came to the first day of uni, I found people that had so much in common with me before I’d even walked through the door (shoutout to the Facebook group chat). A lot of this was down to our course being very small so we were able to mingle. Within about an hour I was on my way to lunch with my soon to be uni circle. All of us were different but we all had very similar values. The idea of similar values has been something I have found very telling in whether or not you will be good friends with someone. If you don’t have similar values, a lot of the time that will lead to the end of a friendship because you won’t understand why someone is doing something the way they think is ‘right’ whereas you will have a completely different approach to it or you will disagree on a lot of things that make the basis of a friendship.
But moving to a new place and meeting new people didn't mean I was about to drop my old friends. In fact, my relationships with some of them got even stronger because we became less friends by coincidence and more friends because of the way we were choosing to live our lives. We were each others support systems. It sounds weird but because we were all expat kids we all had very similar experiences in life, this gave us an approach that felt very different to those around us in uni. The reasons I think these friendships grew deeper instead of disappearing was because there was no competition, negativity or fakeness in the friendships, which I think we all become very accustomed to in school. People you think were your friends in school, you soon realize were merely acquaintances; the filler sweets. Your bag is probably filled with them, sweets you eat because they are there, not because they are your favourite.
My friendship group has had a lot to do with why I started this website, I had the idea ages ago but because of people from school and people who thrive off bringing down other people I was always way too scared to even try to do this. Also, I didn’t want to be wishy washy in the things I was going to write about, I wanted it to be personal and (yeah I’m about to say it, get ready for it) #real. I bought the domain name a couple of months ago and just left it sitting there because I was still too scared of what people would think and say. But now I’ve gotten to the point where I have surrounded myself with people who will only be proud of what I’ve done.
I realize I’m very lucky with the people that I have in my bag, but I don’t just consider it coincidental. Since moving, I’ve been very clear about the person I aim to be and have ultimately started to become. Something I think a lot of people are not able to do and maybe that’s down to the people I’ve met at uni being so out there that it’s inspired me to be that way. Maybe it’s because I feel genuinely happy with how I am now. Or maybe it’s just living on my own, I’ve had a lot (too much) time to think about myself and how I want to grow. But I think some people choose to just do what people around them are doing to be liked (I thought that stopped in school, I stand corrected). To me, this will always be someones downfall because they know that they are not being who they want to be, they are simply moulding themselves to those around them. No one is really happy living that way, no one. But the tricky bit about living that way is that only they can get themselves out of that mind-set. However, the possibility of ‘not being liked’ is too big of a risk so they choose to live mirroring others. These are the people that will always choose quantity over quality. The same people that lose themselves because they are too concerned of what others think.
I’ve learnt that the people who genuinely love you, will be your friends no matter what. Those who like you for their own selfish reasons, whatever those might be, will drop you as soon as you start to change. And you will attract the right sort of people for you as soon as you are honest with yourself about who you are. If you are unhappy with the friends you have, look at yourself and see if you are fully happy with who you are because more often than not, you are a reflection and combination of all of them.
Look at your pick n’ mix bag and decide what sweets are your absolute favourite, if there’s nothing in the bag you would eat even if you were on a diet, empty that bag completely or tie it up and throw it away. Start again just because you can. Find people that are your favourite sweets. Even if that means you walk around with just one sweet in your bag for a while, it will be better than hanging around people who don’t make you feel like the best version of yourself.
Fill your bag wisely.