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ABIGAIL PLUFF | OPINION COLUMNIST | firstname.lastname@example.org
Full disclosure: I am not a licensed therapist. Honestly, I am not licensed in anything whatsoever. I’m just a gal with lots of opinions who enjoys giving unsolicited advice to almost anyone around me. So, if this is adverse advice, you can’t sue me or my place of work. Sorry!
“I hate making new friends, walking into classes, and meeting new professors. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s that I get nervous they won’t like me. Is there anything I can do to stop feeling this way?” -Loyal Reader
Before I begin with ways to combat new situations, I should say that I experience this as well. The start of the new school year can be tough and overwhelming for everyone!
As possibly the most anxious person in the world, walking into a room of new people with new expectations makes me super sweaty, but there are some things that I do to help myself through these feelings that you may find helpful as well.
Take a moment to step back and think about what the people or things that you are anxious about bring into your life. While everyone has value in their own way, not everyone directly contributes to your life.
If someone doesn’t add joy or value to your life, why are you so worried about what they think about you?
Along these same lines, I think it’s important to think about how much attention you’re paying to the way other people are acting. Often, you’re so worried about what people think about you that you don’t even notice the people themselves.
Even if you are noticing the way others behave, rarely do you criticize them in your head. Here’s a tip: everyone else is doing the exact same thing as you. Everyone is so focused on their own impression that no one is picking yours apart. Stop criticizing yourself before anyone else has a chance to.
Before you worry about what other people think about you, first think about this: do you love you? If not, maybe you need to do some work. If you do, then no one else’s opinion matters. You’re the only one that has to live with you one hundred percent of the time.
When you love yourself, then you can embrace the realest, most authentic version of yourself. That version of you will make real, authentic friends with whom you can build real, authentic — read: healthy — relationships.
Relationships where you don’t have to filter yourself last longer, are more fulfilling and energize rather than exhaust. In summary: fake you equals fake friendship which equals an unfulfilled, eventually more lonely and unhappy, you.
It’s natural to be nervous and worry about whether you’re likeable. It’s natural to be a little unsure and to maybe not have as much confidence as you would like. However, fostering the most authentic, confident version of you will get easier the more you practice.
Future you will thank you.
You are valuable, valid and loved,
If you have a question that you’d like to see discussed in Ask Abby, feel free to contact me via email, carrier pigeon or telepathy.