This content mentions anxiety, which some people may find triggering.
Whilst it is easy to stick with our best friends, and comforting to be around the people that know us best, there is an incredible value in making connections with people that we may not typically surround ourselves with.
During my main school years, I had a lot of anxiety, particularly in social situations. After the COVID-19 lockdowns, the anxiety was definitely heightened. This made it incredibly hard to get to know others outside of my ‘comfort circle,’ but I knew it was something I needed to do. I understood that creating relationships with other people would challenge my own worries but also allow me to extend my network of friends. Eventually, I was able to broaden my horizons and start speaking to others by trying to be kind and trustworthy as often as possible. I began to understand that there are loads of advantages to meeting new people and creating healthy relationships with your peers at school.
At first, it was quite challenging to communicate with new people. One way I did it was by sitting next to new people in lessons. I found it too much to expose myself to new people at break and lunch as it was too overwhelming, but in lessons, it was a smaller group. As well as this in the lesson, I feel that you have more common ground and more stuff to talk about: homework or tests are all common connections between people in your class.
I am so happy that I have gained these confidence skills, especially within myself and what I have to offer others. Some of the most interesting political discussions I’ve had were with people that weren’t necessarily my best friends. I’ve also found that the people who have supported me most through lessons and schoolwork are those I don’t necessarily chat with daily. I actually find that I can find something in common with everyone I speak to; it may not always be much, but it’s enough to make a connection. By being open to new relationships, I was able to have these experiences.
Everyone has incredible attributes that they can bring to your life, whether it's humour, kindness (you can never have enough kindness in your life!), loyalty, or even just a new perspective and way of looking at things.
Of course, it can be challenging to put yourself out there; these listening and communication skills take time to develop. They took plenty of time for me, but I got there! It's worth it to increase your support system and find new collaboration opportunities that you may have missed. Remember - you are with your peers for 5 or so years at secondary school, so these relationships are incredibly important!
If you feel affected by the content you have read, please see our get help page for support.
Read stories about people like you
Read the stories you've shared about your lived experiences of mental health.