How many times have you looked around a room and felt like the odd one out? You scope the place and it seems like everybody knows each other, everybody is part of the “group” and you’re just chilling on the side. I’m going to assume we’ve all been there, and if that is the case, this applies to you.
As youth, we’re constantly being told, “These are the best years of your life!” And so far it’s probably proving to be pretty accurate. We’re stepping out into the world, discovering our independence, our freedom . . . and at the same time we’re bumping into a whole lot of stress, responsibility and “grown-up” stuff that we’ve only seen in movies. We’re having the time of our lives, while secretly flailing around like fish on land wondering how everybody else seems to have it all together.
What I love the most about this situation is that most of the time, we’re all feeling the same. We all want to be accepted, to be part of the “in crowd”, yet we often see ourselves as the only one who isn’t! How come? Well to be honest, when we’re overloaded with Instagram photos, Facebook tags and huge friend counts, how can we not feel inadequate? At the same time as being happy for our friends and their adventure-filled lives, human nature kicks in and we start to compare ourselves, often leaving us feeling restless and disconnected.
When we focus on what other people have, or how other people live, we can become dissatisfied with the way our own lives are going and we begin to withdraw. A life lesson we all figure out pretty quickly is that nothing worth having in life comes free. We have to work for our money, save for our toys and clean up our own mess. In exactly the same way, we have to work for our connectedness. For example, the friend-making process doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just pick a human, decide you want to be friends and wake up the next day with an unbreakable bond. It needs to be worked for! And as a self-confessed introvert, I can safely say that this can be hard.
Tips: How To Connect
Spend time with people
Do the scary thing and put yourself out there. Be open, honest and meet new people whenever you have the opportunity. You’ll be surprised at how many people feel just as terrified as you
and how quickly friendships can form.
Keep the focus off yourself
Even though we love to do it, constantly talking about ourselves can be shockingly boring to others. Listening and taking a genuine interest in somebody else’s life can show that you’re interested in them, and more often than not they will return the favour.
Try to stay positive
It is healthy to share your worries and concerns with people close to you. However, when meeting new people, try to keep the mood light. Positive attitudes attract positive people and showing your happy side will help others feel comfortable.
Getting active with new friends is a great way to avoid awkward silences, make good memories and gives you something to talk about next time you meet up. Go bowling, surfing, throw a LAN party. Do whatever makes you happy.
Never compare yourself
This is our forte, what we’re good at. But keep in mind that Facebook posts and Insta-stuff isn’t all there is to a person. Get to know the heart behind the writing and be content with your own story.
To be happy for others, we need to be happy with ourselves.
Ellesha Knight lives in Melbourne, Victoria, and is studying a Masters of Occupational Therapy at La Trobe University.