Making friends is hard, especially for those who are introverted. Over the last 2 years at university, I have struggled to make those ‘friends for life’ that everyone claims to have found. At times, I have felt that those closest to me are so only out of convenience. Whether it’s driving them to and from campus, helping them with academic work, or sharing advice, I can’t help but feel as though I am being used by these people.
For the industry that I want to go into, the competition is fierce. I was taught that when a woman shares the same ambitions as you, it is important not to see them as competition, but rather as someone to support, to encourage and to believe in. At university, I have experienced the opposite effect. These ‘friends’ are not interested in supporting me, encouraging me, believing in me. They are ruthless, and will go to any lengths to prove themselves more successful. Their lies and dirty tactics have had a profound impact on my mental health. How can I trust these people when all I have seen them do is undercut my own ambitions? I am not a selfish person, and I do not intend to get ahead in this world by bringing down other women, especially those I consider to be my friends. I have realised that these people are not my real friends, and that I am worthy of so much more.
I was made to feel as though I could only be friends with certain people if I was happy living in their shadow
For a long time, I felt worthless. I was made to feel as though I could only be friends with certain people if I was happy living in their shadow. These people are happy to entertain any conversation that revolves around them, but the moment that I try to talk about my own future, I am immediately shut down or ignored. As an introvert, I find it very difficult to talk through my emotions with others. I am easily manipulated into thinking that I am overreacting in a situation, and that my feelings aren’t valid. This has allowed these ‘friends’ to control how I act, and what I can and cannot say. I don’t often get invited to parties, but when I do, they act as if I’m hardly there. I thought I had escaped the ridiculous notion of ‘popularity’ when I left high-school. But, even now, if a guy or a girl is considered ‘more popular’ than me, it’s not long before I am ditched by my ‘friends’ and end up going home alone.
One day, you will find a group of people who accept you for exactly who you are
I wanted to write this article for anyone who has ever been made to feel as though they weren’t pretty enough, or popular enough or successful enough to make ‘friends for life’ at university. One day, you will find a group of people who accept you for exactly who you are. Those are the people that will stay in your life forever. It might feel at times as though success is the only marker of social acceptance. But in reality, it’s not! Spreading love and kindness is far more important than maintaining any status or occupation. In such a male-dominated society, women should be supporting women, not tearing them down. In my opinion, anyone who is willing to sacrifice friendships to be successful needs to quickly rearrange their priorities, because if they continue to act this way, there will be no-one left to celebrate with.