Toxic Friendships

SO I just finished binge watching the new netflix series “13 Reasons Why” (yes I should be studying for exams but this was worth it) and if you guys haven’t watched it yet, I suggest you do. It is about a girl who is bullied throughout high school to the point where she ultimately decides to commit suicide. The experiences the characters go through make this series extremely relatable. As I was watching it, I’ve connected things that have happened in my life to the show, and I think that is why I probably cried every episode (but I cry when I watch anything, it can be a comedy and I’ll cry, I’m an emotional person okay?).

I’m not going to give the show away to you guys, but I thought I would talk about an experience of mine that may help you make decisions about your friendships. Have you ever been in a toxic friendship? Or maybe you currently are in one and do not realize, or do not want to realize.

I was best friends with someone for years. Every single secret or big thing that happened in my life, this person was the first to know, before my own parents. Some things you just don’t tell your parents, even if you realize you should have. Every person needs a friend, someone they can talk to and open up to about situations you wouldn’t disclose to just anyone. Things started changing, this person began to put me down, talk behind my back, and tell some of the personal things I have told her to others. I am not a confrontational person, which sometimes SUCKS, because during this time I still remained her friend, because I did not have anyone else. We were known as a pair, everyone knew we were inseparable, so imagining us not as friends was strange.

I would ask why she did things but she would deny it all. I knew she was lying, but I did not want to be alone. I am an introvert in the sense that she introduced me to people and brought me out to parties, I never did that stuff on my own. I felt like I was walking on eggshells, I was so afraid to do something wrong because I thought she would make fun of me again, or tell other people my secrets out of spite. She would be happy and normal around me, but once I was gone she was different. She would talk about me to her other friends, and I still don’t understand why. I never did anything to hurt her or to betray her trust, but it was like a Jekyll and Hyde relationship!

The turning point was when I had a traumatic experience happen to me, and I immediately called her. I told her what happened, but she didn’t believe me. She also didn’t tell me I was on speaker phone and her other friends were there, which meant they all know what happened as well, and they didn’t believe me either. I heard the snickering in the background and that is when I realized I was already alone this whole time. I hung on to something so toxic, that I didn’t realize being alone was probably better for me anyways.

Toxic relationships are not only intimate relationships, they can be friendships too. But, they are just as bad, and just as hard to get over. I look back at what happened to me and wish I would have had the courage to stick up for myself and walk away before things got worse. A friend shouldn’t be judgemental and gossipy, they shouldn’t discredit you, make fun of you, be resentful, or be self-centred in the relationship. If you feel uneasy around a “friend” because you are afraid they will hurt you, make fun of you, or tell people your secrets, it is time to walk away. Do what I couldn’t do, and make the decision which will benefit your mental health and your life. When you are in toxic relationships like the one I experienced, you feel depressed, anxious, and nervous all the time.

When I decided to stop the friendship, it was hard. I slowly stopped messaging her and segregated myself from her friends. We went to different schools so it was a little easier for me, because I did not have to face her everyday. The friendship really took a toll on my life – it took me a very long time to have a “best friend” again, I think it was because I was weary of getting close with another person. I can promise once you leave, it will get better. The anxious feelings and the overthinking subsides, and you will find your groove again. Learn from every experience you have, and make yourself a better person from them. You will know what is right and what is wrong, and what works best for you.

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The Troubles with being a Social Introvert

Growing up, I have always loved being around people and socializing at parties. One of my favourite past times is hanging out with large groups of people because you will always find someone to talk to or something to do! Although I love to socialize, I’ve only ever had a handful of close friends, and as I’ve grown up the handful has gotten smaller as some of my friends have moved away.

Although I’m a socializer, I’m very introverted. I enjoy having time to myself, I am perfectly comfortable with watching movies alone over the weekend, and you will probably never catch me asking people to hangout after class. I feel super uncomfortable when I am faced with making the decision to try and get close with someone. My good friends have always been the more extroverted, who would plan the social gatherings and bring me along. Now that those friends have went across Canada and the US to different universities, I find myself in a rather strange predicament. I want to go out with friends, but am too shy to meet people. Peculiar dilemma, isn’t it?

The craving to socialize has always been there, but when you are placed in large classes, how do you do it? If you are going through something similar, I’ve devised a plan to help you (and I) get to know some university students without feeling awkward about it.

1 – Check out the sororities on campus! 

Looking at how close students in sororities interact with one another and really get to know each other is envious. I wish while I began attending university I looked into UOIT’s sororities just so that I could get to meet people and feel connected to others. Its a funny thing because my friends were ALL in sororities at their universities, and the amount of close friends they walked away with is amazing. You can find everlasting connections while on campus, and this is one of the ways to achieve them!

2 – Join a club or a committee that interests you!

Honestly, THERE ARE CLUBS FOR EVERYTHING! Just a quick google search of UOIT’s campus clubs makes me wish I would have looked into it earlier. Do you like gardening? There’s a club for that! Do you like art, drama, dance, or music? Clubs for that too! Are you religious and would like a place to meet others with the same religious values? There are clubs for that! What about humanitarian opportunities, board games, billiards, sports, SUPER SMASH BROS (I’m not kidding), like there is literally a club for everything. Find a hobby of yours or something that you are really interested in, and join the club to meet like minded people. You may have to pull of the bandaid of actually attending the sessions, but hey, think of all the cool stuff you’d be involved in and the amount of people you will meet who share your interests.

3 – Create a study group for your class!

This is something that not only will benefit you socially, but it can also benefit your grades (and we can all use that). Through blackboard, just message the whole class asking if people would like to get together for a study group, I GUARANTEE YOU people will respond. Even if you do not end up hanging out with the students on the weekend, it is still a way to meet people and to have that social fulfillment of being around others. You may meet your new best friend this way, you never know. Keep an open mind!

PSA to you all: Do not pull a “me” and go through your whole university career wishing you  met more people. I’m graduating in April and I regret not joining clubs or looking into ways to meet the students I’ve sat beside for the past 4 years. I seriously recommend looking into what UOIT offers, because I never did and I think it would have made my university experience THAT much better!

Tips for Friends: Self Harm

According to a google search, self harm is the “intentional, direct injury of body tissue most often done without suicidal intentions.” A person who self harms will explain their behaviour as a way of dealing with situations out of their control and feelings toward difficult or painful experiences. Most self harmers attempt to keep it hidden, and it may also become addicting as a release for some.

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Tips for Friends: Anxiety

As 1 in 4 people have an mental illness, one of the ways people attempt to deal with them, and are encouraged to do, is reach out to friends and family for support. As one of the friends being reached out to, this may be overwhelming if you aren’t informed on the illness your friend is dealing with. This blog post, and the ones that will follow it, will be written with tips and information that can help someone when they are approached by a friend reaching out for help.

To begin, I’d like to talk about anxiety disorders.

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