Monday 17 July 2023

Friendships, University and Vulnerability

Alex shares his experiences of making friends whilst at university and what lies at the heart of these friendships

- Alex

The below illustrates some of the different thoughts and emotions I felt meeting my friends for the first time at the University CafĂ© before our first lecture. We’d all technically met on a Teams call hosted by our lecturers, and sporadically chatted on a WhatsApp group, but still … here they were, here I was, in the flesh! I can’t under or overstate what the conflicting feelings of excitement and anxiety meeting new people can stir with me, and I’m guessing all, some, or more of the below may have stirred within anyone entering university and new friendships for the first time.

Two years later I’ve come to realize that everything I was thinking and feeling was, for lack of a better word, “normal”. Entering new relationships, specifically friendships, is a weird mix of excitement, fear, compatibility, risk, sensing, and fun! They’re completely voluntary, shared, and built by connection. 

It wasn’t until after pulling together through our first year that a truly deep bond was made with three of my fellow peers, who I’m happy to say are three of my closest friends. We’ve sat together through tears and frustrations at assignments together. Laughed at both successes and tribulations together. We’ve fallen out over miscommunication yet reconnected through compassion. Perhaps the most poignant feeling that pulled, and continues to pull us together was our capacity to be vulnerable with each other. 
Vulnerability is again an aspect which I cannot over or understate as an integral part of friendships. To share some of the deepest and most secret parts of yourself with someone new is tough, and takes patience, and a degree of risk. However, the rewarding connections made by vulnerability make the first step even more worth it. I’d encourage anyone entering any sort of higher or further education, and the fellow students you meet, to be brave and share in the wonderful vulnerability friendship is built upon, even just a little.

The bonds of friendships can be made through the simplest and smallest of vulnerabilities and bravery. 

Explore tips and resources to help you navigate university life in Student Minds’ Transitions guide.

Hi, I'm Alex. I'm a mature student studying counselling and psychotherapy. I'm sharing this mix of essay and balloon art to encourage anyone struggling or anxious about making friendships at university.

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