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Social anxiety: how to fit in at school

School is an important part of our life because it is often the place where we spend most of our time and it plays a crucial role in the formation of our individual self. Without the right people, it can be a lonely place where the school day drags and we can eventually come to dislike being there at all.

Fitting in at school

But fitting in at school, being seen as ‘normal’ and making friends in a new place is something that we all struggle with on occasion throughout our lives. With these tips, the process should become a bit easier.

You’re not the only one

If you are starting a new school, fitting in can seem like an overwhelming feat and it may feel like you’ll never make friends or find your place. In these circumstances, it’s useful to maintain perspective and remember that everyone is in the same boat as you; everyone is just as nervous and anxious as you are.

Remembering this will diminish the feeling of being overwhelmed and can also give you something to bond over with people. Everyone being in the same boat will also make others more receptive to new friendships. Remembering this will give you the confidence to be able to approach others. Try to not to worry if you’ve not really made friends after your first week. These things can take time, so be patient with yourself.

Be yourself

There is a temptation to pretend to be something we are not so that we can fit in with people we think we might want to be friends with. But this is a recipe for disaster because pretending to be something you’re not will produce friendships that are superficial and not genuine. You might even find yourself being uninterested or annoyed by your new friends because your interests and opinions are not mutual and might clash with each other.

Your new friends might also see through your act and consider you dishonest. It is important to be true to yourself so that you can have more meaningful and long-lasting relationships. With patience, you’ll find the people whose company you enjoy and who share your interests.

Be proactive

Now that you have the confidence and a positive mindset to find those friends, you need ways to find them. The most effective method is simply to identify the people that you think have similar interests to you or you’d like to be friends with and just approach them. Ask to sit with them in class or at lunch and you’ll find that in most cases people will accept your offer.

Informal settings such as school clubs or societies where you work together as a team are also great places to make friends because the activity will give you something to talk about – and help to overcome that initial burden of starting a conversation. If they are in the same club as you chances are that they have the same interests which take the guesswork out of the process. The key here is to be proactive.

Smile

Alternatively, if you tend to be a bit shy then it is more important to be approachable so that others in the same boat as you can come to you. It can be off-putting to see someone sitting with their arms crossed, with a grimace on their face. So try to smile or have a friendly demeanour and others will be more likely to approach you.

Be Consistent

Once you’ve identified the people you want to be friends with, the key is to be consistent by spending more time with them. Choose to partner up with them during class activities or greet them if you see them outside. The more time you spend with them the more you’ll find out about each other and develop a deeper friendship. The mark of a strong friendship is being at ease in each other’s company which comes as a result of spending a long time with each other. This will take time so don’t try to rush or force it and instead have patience.