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Prior bullying has affected my socialising at university

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    I want to make it clear that I am not trying to get attention or act like a victim in writing this post, my main intention is to get some advice.

    Anyway, I was bullied throughout secondary school right from 1st year to sixth form, the bullying was awful; in 1st year it was everything from taunting me (they used to say 'everyone hates you' or they would make fun of my voice), to hitting and stealing etc, by sixth form it become more silent and sneaky e.g. excluding me from things or ignoring me. When people felt sorry for me and tried to befriend me these people would say 'why are you hanging out with him?' like i'm some sort of degenerate. Anyway, these people did not like me and made it aware from the start.

    When I see these people down the street I am still intimidated and try and avoid them. It gets on my nerves how they act like nothing happened and attempt to make conversation with me. I feel awkward even being in the vicinity of these people nevermind having a conservation with them.

    Anyway, this has impacted me in unversity, I haven't made a single friend, I have such a low self-esteem. I don't really speak to people because I feel like they will judge me in the same way or won't want to become friends with me. I have noticed (and I am somewhat surprised by this) that alot of people at university still have the same kind of high school mentality; this puts me off approaching them. I know that my lack of friendships this year is probably 70% my fault. I just need the confidence to approach people.

    I have been going to a few clubs but nothing has happened. Alot of the clubs that I go to have slightly older people who aren't interested in forming friendships. In some of the clubs the older students talk to each other about people they know and by doing them i'm excluded from the conversation.

    I'm not quite sure how to approach this issue because it's been going on for so long. I know that people are going to tell me that this is all in the past and that I should get over it, I have been trying to get over it but it still affects me. My confidence is so low. I don't know what I can do to get the negative thoughts from the bullying out of my head and realise that most people aren't judging me like they did.

    The nice thing about going somewhere new is that nobody knows you and you start with a clean slate.
    That means all your baggage has a chance of being left behind.

    You need some self esteem or confidence training. Sometimes charities like Mind run things or maybe you cna see your GP to get refered toa therpaist for CBT.
    Alternatively do voluntray work, join societies and get involves so you are mixing with people. Its hard, but you need to keep going so you get over the first few months of awkwardness. they have no idea you have veen bullied , so dont wear it like a badge if possible, they would just be interested in getting to know you.

    At some stage you are going to have to get used to just being friendly over fearful and not mind what people think or care too much. If you start to relax and join in it will improve your chances of making friends. there will be plenty of other people like you, who havent hit it off as they would have liked and seem a bit invisible, but they are there. Why not make a society for it and get some free beer money from the SU?

    I suffered bad at school and those wounds do run very deep. It took me years to find myself, several of which were wasted on behaviour that only furthered the damage such as heavily drinking and drug abuse. I still guard myself to some extent around people but I found my confidence(although I still have shaky self esteem) and now I am very social, I can talk to almost any one. You will find there will always be judgemental people regardless of age, but their will be many more who will happy to have more friends. If it is something you don't feel you are ready to tackle alone reach out to student services,GP or charities don't let it consume you otherwise you could end up in a very dark place, and from experience it will take every thing you have to climb back out that and leave you with worse mental scars. I went to counselling and eventually I spent a couple of years doing volunteering to supporting other young students who needed help. It is hard to get over worrying what others think of you but being genuinely friendly, supportive/kind, honest and not being afraid to speak my mind have created in my mind the best version of me. I offer a metaphorical hand of friendship to every one, I don't compete/try to out do others, I don't boast/knock others down, I try not to let the past hold me back or cloud my judgement and I don't throw my past misery at others as a way of earning sympathy. I have made a lot of friends since returning to education and most of them are a decade younger than me, I admit that I do get a little lost with how different 18-20's are now.

    Here's a short metaphor I think you may like-
    When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or a chain every night. Because it is the nature of elephants to roam free, the baby elephant instinctively tries with all its might to break the rope. But it isn't yet strong enough to do so. Realizing its efforts are of no use, it finally gives up and stops struggling. The baby elephant tries and fails many times, it will never try again for the rest of its life.Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn't make the slightest attempt to break free. The powerfully gigantic elephant has limited its present abilities by the limitations of the past—-hence, the Baby Elephant Syndrome.

    Human beings are exactly like the elephant except for one thing—We can CHOOSE not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by the past…

    I wish you all the best,

    Being bullied at school often leaves deep scars that cannot be seen and can take many years to recover from.
    You have done well. You have made it to University. It is easy for me or another to say yesterday or yesteryear is in the past but that probably won't make you feel any better or think more positively.
    Take your time. Be patient with yourself. You will find friends, true friends and you will create great bonds with others. They will value and care for you as you will them.
    Be brave matey, be patient and be kind to yourself. Most of all never give up hope or give up on yourself. You sound a great guy.
    Take care.
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