When I moved to Dundee, like many people, it was the first time I’d been truly alone in my entire life. I was used to having my family there, and I’d been in the same friendship group since nursery. But did the thought of being alone scare me? Nope. I was excited.
I’ve always been quite shy, often struggling to make friends. Back home a lot of my peers thought I was weird, so I learnt to be quiet so they had no ammunition for picking on me. It was Mark Twain who said, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.” This was how I lived my life for many years, scared to speak to new people in case they thought I was odd too. But as I grew into a young adult, I saw that weirdness wasn’t mocked as it had been when I was younger. I couldn’t quite manage to open up to those around me at that time, but I thought that maybe I’d manage in a new place.
That’s why I was so excited. I was excited to start a new life and to magically have a new, confident personality to help me make friends and to get on better with those around me. But the truth is, that didn’t happen. If you want to change who you are, changing your surroundings won’t help with that. The change has to come from within.
The disappointment of not being able to be the confident person I wanted to be had many effects on my mental health. I was sad and alone, and although I had a few good people in my life over that first year, I was on my own for the majority of it. I put myself in dangerous situations and did things I’m not proud of, just because I didn’t care about my wellbeing. It took me a long time to admit that what I was feeling wasn’t normal, and to seek help. And I’m so glad I did.
Thanks to counselling, I now have a better understanding of why I am the way I am, and what I can do to help get on with my life. I’m still not popular, I doubt I ever will be, but I’ve come to accept the fact that your self-worth doesn’t come from having lots of friends. Sometimes a few good ones are all you need.
Over two years later, and I still have bad days. But the majority of the time I’m happy, and I’m so thankful nothing awful happened to me in that first year, although it easily could have. We all go through periods in our lives that are hard, and loneliness is something that can affect you even when you’re surrounded by others. But never give up, because I promise you, you will find your people, and, more importantly, you will find yourself.