Your friends are not your friends if they don’t like you. That seems redundant, but I feel the need to say it anyway. I learned this lesson the hard way before coming to college, and it has reshaped the way I view my relationships with other people.
In middle school, I hung out with the nerdier kids. I longed to be the best friend of the smartest girl in our class, and, honestly, I regret that. Looking back, it is clear to see how poorly she was treating me, but my rose-colored glasses were glued on.
When we entered high school, I began to see how truly mean my “friends” were. I distinctly recall attending one of their birthday celebrations sophomore year. I had biked downtown to make it, and we were enjoying cupcakes in the park. Chatting away, the birthday girl herself said, “You know, I was only going to bring one cupcake for everyone, but then I remembered Elizabeth was coming.”
Everyone laughed it off in the moment, but that statement rocked me. It was not until I biked the five miles home that it hit me: my friend had just called me fat and laughed in my face. Someone I had invited into my circle had just insulted me in the worst way. It hit me so hard that I can remember it word for word four years later. I struggled with my weight as a child. She knew that and said what she said anyway, and she would go on to do so again.
Those girls were not my friends back then and are not now. If you are hanging around people who treat you like a punch line, you are with the wrong people. You should not stick with people who make you feel less than because I can guarantee there are hundreds of better people out there.
After I left the friend group of people who made fun of my appearance, I made one of my closest high school friends. She is the only person I still actively try to see from my hometown, and for good reason. In college, I found my group through trial and error, but the people who stick around are the ones I want there. They support my endeavors and hype up my involvement.
On April Fool’s Day, I joked in our group chat that I had changed my major to biology. Without hesitating, my friend offered to arrange her schedule so we could take classes together. They did not question it, which while being super funny was really sweet and supportive.
As we are entering the fifth week of classes, it can seem intimidating to leave your grouping. However, it is never too late to change who you associate with. It is better to make the change now than to keep on going and being treated poorly.
Trust me, going years on years of hanging out with mean people will leave you super drained. College is stressful enough without having to handle people who don’t respect you.
Your people are out there, and they are not going to make you feel bad for being you. Go to events that interest you, join clubs and talk to people in classes. With over five thousand students at Shippensburg University, you are bound to have at least one person in your corner. Put yourself out there, and don’t settle for less than you deserve.