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Fitting in at university and the wider world can be hard

From someone who feels like they don’t fit in

We've all been there – where we think we should change ourselves to become someone else in order to gain social acceptance and gain more friends. Some of it is down to our colleagues, our friends and other wider influences such as social media.

Social Media

Social media is everywhere nowadays and most people feel pressured to conform, act, talk or dress a certain way.

We are bombarded daily with influences, whether those come from our friends, people we see, things we do or social media.

An example where people went to extreme lengths to be like someone else was the infamous 'Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge'.

Stigmas and influences are massive trends right now.

The biggest one that I’ve had in my experience is – “You don’t look like someone who does Computing because you don’t look like a nerd”. It looks like we’re in a time where – based on what you do – you feel conformed to act and dress a certain way.

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It's so common for students to drink just like all their peers

University itself can be seen as a place where everyone is categorised into different social groups and labelled in different ways depending on what they do or how they dress.

This in turn can cause people to change themselves to fit in better.

Examples of social acceptance

There are numerous stories out there. People I know have copied piercings, tattoos and outfits from friends and others that they associate themselves with to gain social acceptance and befriend them.

Most people seemingly do this as a way of finding common ground.

There are others who take this further by getting involved in drugs and drinking because they're doing what might be considered cool.

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People at uni might think they need to get smashed like everyone else

I’ve heard multiple conversations about people who have done drugs just to gain social acceptance (with a larger group of people).

The reason for this is usually because they find it difficult to make friends by just being themselves.

There comes a point where people must think,“Is it really worth doing this to myself just to gain a few friends that I might not be friends with in the future?”

It’s a difficult question to answer, especially with all the influences we see which leads to us acting in a certain way.

People shouldn’t have to change or damage themselves just to become more accepted (or more popular) within a group of people – especially when it does more harm than good.

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You don't have to drink too much to have a good time

Be yourself

The advice I would give is that you should be yourself.

If people can't accept you or like you for who you are, that problem lies with them, and definitely not you.

If we all just accepted that we should conform in a certain way, there would be no individuality on campus or anywhere that we go.