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Relationships...

By Lusanda Molefe, 20, Johannesburg

I thought university would be a new start for me. A place for me to meet new people and start new friendships. Little did I know, that my experience was going to be a truckload of disappointment after disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of ‘varsity life’ is an interesting one and exciting at best. But that was the problem, I went in thinking that it was going to be fun…

See, I am an anti-social person. It was hard for me at first because I never truly understood what was wrong with me, but now that I understand myself as an individual, it’s easier to acknowledge that about myself. I remember on the first day of university, in my first year, when we were introducing ourselves in class I would say, “I don’t like people”. It would seem like a joke to most – literally, in the sense that the crowd would just burst out in laughter as if that was my attempt at an icebreaker. And I had a lot of people approach me afterwards to tell me how much they admired me for my honesty and that it seemed cool and they would like to chill with someone so straightforward. I was flattered, but also, I was overwhelmed because people were talking to me.

I went through a lot of phases in high school. Relationship problems that left me feeling grateful for my last year and a chance to start afresh in varsity. A lot of people got the wrong energy from me, from being told that I was a ‘know-it-all’ because of how much I spoke or answered questions in class to being told that I think I’m better than everyone else because of how I carry myself. Sometimes people were offended by my brutal honesty – I am never honest to hurt anyone, I’m too nice for that. My honesty is more about me standing up for myself. For example, when people went around spreading whatever it is that they felt about me, I clearly stated that their words didn’t affect me because well, they don’t know me. This bothered them, because they clearly wanted to rattle me, and it honestly didn’t. In fact, I paid them no heed, they were simply irrelevant, and they didn’t like it. The closest people to me didn’t understand me and that made me start distancing myself from society.

So, for a while I was just always by myself, getting myself together and figuring myself out. A lot of aspects and attributes have developed from that experience. My deviation from society caused a lot of social anxiety when I got to varsity. People were genuinely trying to form relationships with me, but I kept pushing them away. I was very honest, maybe sometimes too honest about my feelings – I did this because I wanted people to get a sense of the kind of person I was from the get-go, so that if they decided to stay, I would know it was genuine. I was led to believe that I shouldn’t be too smart, so I never spoke much, never interacted much. I was always closed off.

I had one very important relationship, someone who was a lover, best friend and confidant. I was comfortable with all that in one person. But then we went through a very rough patch in my first year that left me so depressed. It was bad enough that I was failing my modules and just couldn’t get a hang of the content being taught, but the one person I would have spoken to about this wasn’t there. I didn’t speak to anyone; it took me about six months and one counselling session (because I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone) – to heal.

Being anti-social means that being around people drains you and you just want to crawl into a whole and stay there. It’s the fear of letting people in, because I know I have trust issues. But it doesn’t mean you don’t want to form relationships; it just takes a lot from you and it really must be worth it. It helps having someone to talk to. Relationships can either make or break you, but I do hope to one day find a good friendship worth a lifetime. One is enough, I can’t handle any more than that…

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