Recovering from a disastrous first 3 years of uni/Making a success of my final year

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Rationally93
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First time poster,

I'm a 3rd year student at UCL and have just returned from a year abroad. I went into my first year of uni full of optimism and hope that I could finally make a success of myself socially. My school days were me basically floating about at the lower fringes of the social spectrum, and I didn't realise until too late that having as many friends as possible was very important in life. Since 16 I've suffered with social anxiety and it's made social occasions very challenging for me, socialising without alcohol is extremely uncomfortable, more of which to come...

I went off to halls and I have to say the the first 3 months were fantastic, on the first night I ended up going out in a group of people very much at the top of the social spectrum and these people became my friends. I didn't realise at the time but I was struggling with the move away from home as I'd never been independent back home. I felt out of my depth compared to these super people, totally inferior. My social life with them became solely alcohol based and I started to get into fights on nights out, I would see my friends getting laid on a regular basis but nothing ever happened for me. I'd say maybe half of the nights out ended up with me getting into a fight/disagreement with someone... One night I took things too far, I ended up drinking a 15x crate of beer in about 3 hours and got violent and abusive towards them, next morning with no memory of the night before I went down to breakfast to join them and everything had changed, they were finished with me. Due to the nature of halls pretty soon everyone knew about it and I became tarnished goods, I was soon eating with the uncool Asian kids. My neighbour's social group took me under its wing and for the next 3 months my social life was poor but just about surviving.

By the time it was March there was a big boat party organised for everyone at halls and up until then me and my former friends had had no contact whatsoever apart from the occasional courteous nod in passing, but that was about it. The boat party was a disaster, I drank too much again and had an argument with one of them on the boat, which we were all stuck on for 2 hours... Back at halls me and one of the ex-friends came to blows (two doors down from me), and the warden was called. All of them backed his word against mine and I was kicked out from halls (no complaints from me, completely my fault). The rest of the 1st year was my revising for my exams, no social life.

The 2nd year came around and by then I was living in my parents' house in London (they rent it out, we used to live in London), I really struggled to make new friends, my social life consisted of one social group (a UCL society) and I had maybe one night out every 2 weeks. I'd stopped getting into fights by then until one night where the old problems resurfaced. Probably not the time to say this but I need to keep you reading this essay so... The night in question I do not remember a lot, I woke up at 10am in Gatwick airport, no hangover and very confused. I remember being on the dancefloor, convinced that I was an 18th century diplomat, everyone else on the dancefloor represented a diplomat from another nation. (No idea what drug it was, would be nice to be enlightened by someone. I'm hoping I was roofied as I don't actively seek to do drugs) After this episode I was too embarrassed to hang out with this group again, no idea if they were fine with me or not. From November to the end of the academic year I didn't have another social occasion at all, I had been reduced to no uni friends. I became heavily depressed and set my mind on the 3rd year, and the hope associated with my year abroad.

September arrived and I set off on my year abroad in Sarajevo, moved into halls and again things were disastrous. There isn't a drinking culture in Bosnia so I had to socialise without alcohol, I was nervous, I would struggle to speak sometimes, I would go red, I would sweat, socialising in a foreign language also made things 10x harder than it already was. The fact I was English made me something of a novelty, I suddenly became someone everyone wanted to know, I struggled with this and shut myself away in my room, getting more and more depressed. After about 3 weeks I decided to leave halls and go and live with family nearby, yet again I'd failed at halls and failed to make new friends. Living with family was comforting but my social life totally died, I was completely isolated. I would go in for lectures and come home, watch tv and hang out with my grandparents and uncle. Sometimes I would go out for a coffee with my cousin. 4 months of this totally killed my spirit. I was about to fly home to the UK in March when I was stopped at the airport in Sarajevo and detained, I didn't have a residence permit and had exceeded my allotted time (no idea it was needed as there was no need for a visa). After a day of police interviews and a fine I was deported from Bosnia and banned from the country for a year. I got back to England and immediately turned my mind to what I would tell UCL, and more importantly how I would recover from 2 and a half years of social isolation. I've had 3 months of time to reflect and plan my final year and I need some advice. The last 3 months have again been poor socially, most of my friends from school have been away at uni but I have socialised sporadically (2/3 times a month), but not enough to my liking, I still feel isolated.

I need a strategy for my final year, I can't afford another year of halls so will be living in a house/flat with other students. Freshers week is a massive week for me and I need to make sure that I have opportunities to make friends in that crucial week, if I am unable to make friends in freshers week then it becomes that little bit harder to recover based on my past..

Advice would also be welcome on overcoming social anxiety as it has held me back for so long, I'm not the type of person to fall for self-help books etc as I'm conscious of the fact I'm trying to be tricked/coaxed into thinking in a different way, I'd like advice from real people on here who have similar experiences. Some people reading this will think I'm an alcoholic but I don't drink unless I'm socialising, it is my way of getting through it without feeling nervous or anxious, as a result I only end up drinking 2/3 times a month. I've overcome getting into fights on nights out, it hasn't happened for about a year and a half, so I think I'm past that stage thankfully. People will probably think I'm not a nice guy after reading all of this but I am, good people make bad choices. I really want to redeem myself for all of these mistakes, and make my family proud of me. Thanks.
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ChelseaYvonne
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I think you just need to learn moderation.
Your problems seem to come from drinking way too much and you probably wouldn't get into these situations if you knew your limit and stuck to it.
With regards to a strategy for your final year, maybe you should seek to make some new friends in a society or sports club or something. Warn them that you have issues if you drink too much and then try to stick to just a couple of drink when socialising- enough to relax you but not enough to make your evil alter ego come out to play.

(Original post by Rationally93)
First time poster,

I'm a 3rd year student at UCL and have just returned from a year abroad. I went into my first year of uni full of optimism and hope that I could finally make a success of myself socially. My school days were me basically floating about at the lower fringes of the social spectrum, and I didn't realise until too late that having as many friends as possible was very important in life. Since 16 I've suffered with social anxiety and it's made social occasions very challenging for me, socialising without alcohol is extremely uncomfortable, more of which to come...

I went off to halls and I have to say the the first 3 months were fantastic, on the first night I ended up going out in a group of people very much at the top of the social spectrum and these people became my friends. I didn't realise at the time but I was struggling with the move away from home as I'd never been independent back home. I felt out of my depth compared to these super people, totally inferior. My social life with them became solely alcohol based and I started to get into fights on nights out, I would see my friends getting laid on a regular basis but nothing ever happened for me. I'd say maybe half of the nights out ended up with me getting into a fight/disagreement with someone... One night I took things too far, I ended up drinking a 15x crate of beer in about 3 hours and got violent and abusive towards them, next morning with no memory of the night before I went down to breakfast to join them and everything had changed, they were finished with me. Due to the nature of halls pretty soon everyone knew about it and I became tarnished goods, I was soon eating with the uncool Asian kids. My neighbour's social group took me under its wing and for the next 3 months my social life was poor but just about surviving.

By the time it was March there was a big boat party organised for everyone at halls and up until then me and my former friends had had no contact whatsoever apart from the occasional courteous nod in passing, but that was about it. The boat party was a disaster, I drank too much again and had an argument with one of them on the boat, which we were all stuck on for 2 hours... Back at halls me and one of the ex-friends came to blows (two doors down from me), and the warden was called. All of them backed his word against mine and I was kicked out from halls (no complaints from me, completely my fault). The rest of the 1st year was my revising for my exams, no social life.

The 2nd year came around and by then I was living in my parents' house in London (they rent it out, we used to live in London), I really struggled to make new friends, my social life consisted of one social group (a UCL society) and I had maybe one night out every 2 weeks. I'd stopped getting into fights by then until one night where the old problems resurfaced. Probably not the time to say this but I need to keep you reading this essay so... The night in question I do not remember a lot, I woke up at 10am in Gatwick airport, no hangover and very confused. I remember being on the dancefloor, convinced that I was an 18th century diplomat, everyone else on the dancefloor represented a diplomat from another nation. (No idea what drug it was, would be nice to be enlightened by someone. I'm hoping I was roofied as I don't actively seek to do drugs) After this episode I was too embarrassed to hang out with this group again, no idea if they were fine with me or not. From November to the end of the academic year I didn't have another social occasion at all, I had been reduced to no uni friends. I became heavily depressed and set my mind on the 3rd year, and the hope associated with my year abroad.

September arrived and I set off on my year abroad in Sarajevo, moved into halls and again things were disastrous. There isn't a drinking culture in Bosnia so I had to socialise without alcohol, I was nervous, I would struggle to speak sometimes, I would go red, I would sweat, socialising in a foreign language also made things 10x harder than it already was. The fact I was English made me something of a novelty, I suddenly became someone everyone wanted to know, I struggled with this and shut myself away in my room, getting more and more depressed. After about 3 weeks I decided to leave halls and go and live with family nearby, yet again I'd failed at halls and failed to make new friends. Living with family was comforting but my social life totally died, I was completely isolated. I would go in for lectures and come home, watch tv and hang out with my grandparents and uncle. Sometimes I would go out for a coffee with my cousin. 4 months of this totally killed my spirit. I was about to fly home to the UK in March when I was stopped at the airport in Sarajevo and detained, I didn't have a residence permit and had exceeded my allotted time (no idea it was needed as there was no need for a visa). After a day of police interviews and a fine I was deported from Bosnia and banned from the country for a year. I got back to England and immediately turned my mind to what I would tell UCL, and more importantly how I would recover from 2 and a half years of social isolation. I've had 3 months of time to reflect and plan my final year and I need some advice. The last 3 months have again been poor socially, most of my friends from school have been away at uni but I have socialised sporadically (2/3 times a month), but not enough to my liking, I still feel isolated.

I need a strategy for my final year, I can't afford another year of halls so will be living in a house/flat with other students. Freshers week is a massive week for me and I need to make sure that I have opportunities to make friends in that crucial week, if I am unable to make friends in freshers week then it becomes that little bit harder to recover based on my past..

Advice would also be welcome on overcoming social anxiety as it has held me back for so long, I'm not the type of person to fall for self-help books etc as I'm conscious of the fact I'm trying to be tricked/coaxed into thinking in a different way, I'd like advice from real people on here who have similar experiences. Some people reading this will think I'm an alcoholic but I don't drink unless I'm socialising, it is my way of getting through it without feeling nervous or anxious, as a result I only end up drinking 2/3 times a month. I've overcome getting into fights on nights out, it hasn't happened for about a year and a half, so I think I'm past that stage thankfully. People will probably think I'm not a nice guy after reading all of this but I am, good people make bad choices. I really want to redeem myself for all of these mistakes, and make my family proud of me. Thanks.
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