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Social anxiety: fitting in at school

Social anxiety: fitting in at school

Fitting in at school. School is an important part of our life because it is often the place where we spend most of our time. It plays a crucial role in the formation of our individual selves. Without the right people, it can be a lonely place where the school day drags. We can eventually come to dislike being there at all.

The school environment can be an overwhelming experience, especially if grappling with social anxiety. The fear of judgment, rejection, and the pressure to fit in can make school days challenging. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone in your struggles. In this blog post, we’ll explore social anxiety and provide you with some top tips to help you navigate social situations and find your place at school.

Understanding Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is associated with an intense fear of social interactions and being negatively evaluated by others. It can manifest in various ways, such as avoiding social situations, feeling self-conscious, or experiencing physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat or sweating. Social anxiety can hinder academic performance, limit social interactions, and diminish overall well-being if left unaddressed.

Tips for Fitting in at School:

Fitting in at school

Fitting in at school, being seen as ‘normal’ and making friends in a new place is something that we all struggle with on occasion throughout our lives. With these tips, the process should become a bit easier and you can start to build the skills to make the process easier. Social skills are really important and aren’t always something that is taught to you. These social skills are key though for most situations either in social interactions or in high school or beyond.

You’re not the only one

If you are starting a new school, or experiencing a new social situation fitting in can seem like an overwhelming feat. You may fear that you’ll never make friends or find your place. In these circumstances, it’s useful to maintain perspective and remember that everyone is in the same boat as you; everyone is just as nervous and anxious feeling as you are.

Remembering this will diminish – the anxious feeling and feeling overwhelmed. It can also though give you something to bond over with people. Often everyone has anxious thoughts about a new social setting, you are not alone!

Everyone being in the same boat will also make others more receptive to new friendships. Remembering this will give you the confidence to be able to approach others. Try not to worry if you’ve not really made friends after your first week at school. These things can take time, so be patient with yourself.

Be yourself

There is a temptation to pretend to be something we are not so that we can fit in with people we think we might want to be friends with. But this is a recipe for disaster because pretending to be something you’re not will produce friendships that are superficial and not genuine. You might even find yourself uninterested or annoyed by your new school friends because your interests and opinions are not mutual and might clash.

Fitting in at school - be yourself

Your new friends might also see through your actions and consider you dishonest. It is important to be true to yourself in any situation. This will help you have more meaningful and long-lasting relationships and social interactions. With patience, you’ll find the people in school whose company you enjoy and who share your interests.

Be proactive Fitting in at school

Now that you have the confidence and a positive mindset to find those friends, you need ways to find them. The most effective method is simply to identify the people that you think have similar interests to you or you’d like to be friends with and just approach them. Ask to sit with them in class or at lunch and you’ll find that in most cases people will accept your offer. Try not to feel anxious about asking, remember they may be feeling the same way!

Informal settings or social situations such as school clubs or societies where you work together as a team are also great places to make friends. The activity will also give you something to talk about – and help to overcome that initial burden of starting a conversation. If they are in the same club as you chances are that they have the same interests and skills which takes the guesswork out of the process. The key here is to be proactive and try to banish any anxious thoughts. Whatever happens, you get to do some extracurricular activities and learn new skills you know you’ll enjoy!


Alternatively, if you tend to be a bit shy then it is more important to be approachable so that others in the same boat as you can come to you. It can be off-putting to see someone sitting with their arms crossed, with a grimace on their face. So try to smile or have a friendly demeanour and others will be more likely to approach you.

Fitting in at school - smile

When Fitting in at school – Be Consistent

Once you’ve identified the people you want to be friends with, the key is to be consistent by spending more time with them. Choose to partner up with them during school activities or greet them if you see them outside. The more time you spend with them the more you’ll find out about each other and develop a deeper friendship. The mark of a strong friendship is being at ease in each other’s company which comes as a result of spending a long time with each other. This will take time so don’t try to rush or force it and instead have patience.

Acknowledge and Accept Your Feelings

The first step in managing school anxiety is to accept your feelings. Understand that it is normal to feel nervous or self-conscious in social situations. Don’t beat yourself up for having these emotions. Instead, remind yourself that everyone has their own insecurities, and you are not alone in this struggle. Talk to a parent or teacher and tell them how you’re feeling. Talking things out loud always helps make them feel more manageable.

Practice Self-Care

Taking care of yourself is crucial when dealing with social anxiety. Prioritise self-care activities that help you relax and reduce stress. Engage in regular exercise maybe with someone new that you met at school. Make sure you get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet, and practice mindfulness or meditation skills. When you prioritise your well-being, you’ll find it easier to cope with anxiety and handle social situations more effectively. There’s a related post here that you might enjoy reading.

Fitting in at school - consistency

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Social anxiety often stems from negative thought and self-doubt. Challenge these thoughts by questioning their validity and examining the evidence. Are these negative thoughts based on facts or assumptions? Try to reframe anxious and negative thoughts into more positive and realistic ones. For example, instead of thinking, “Everyone will think I’m weird,” reframe it as “Some people might not understand me, but that’s okay. I am unique and valuable.” Remember it is so important to look after your own mental health in any situation whether it be a social event or school activity.

Start with Small Steps to help with Fitting in at school

Overcoming social anxiety doesn’t happen overnight. Start by taking small steps outside your comfort zone. Set achievable goals, such as initiating a conversation with a classmate or joining a school club or extracurricular activity that aligns with your interests. Gradually increase the difficulty level as you gain confidence. Remember, progress is a process and every small step counts.

Practice Social Skills

Yes, you heard us, practice! As a young person you spend so long focussing on academic performance sometimes you forget to put the same effort into your social skills. Improving your social skills can significantly boost your confidence and help you fit in at school. Start by observing and mimicking positive social behaviours you admire in others. Practice active listening, maintain eye contact, and engage in conversations by asking open-ended questions. Remember, social skills are learned, and with practice, you can develop them over time.

Embrace Your Unique Qualities

Instead of trying to blend in at school or in social situations, embrace your unique qualities and interests. Celebrate what makes you special and share your passions with others. Join clubs or social activities that align with your hobbies or talents. This can be a great way to connect with like-minded individuals who appreciate you for who you are.

Fitting in at school – Conclusion

Dealing with social anxiety can be challenging, but remember that it does not define you. By implementing these top tips and staying persistent, you can gradually overcome your fears and find your place at school. Be patient and kind to yourself.

Take a look at a related post here that you might enjoy, we look at the skills to turn stressed into desserts!

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