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Branch Out

Up till high school, for many reasons, I was a bit of a loner. Most of my friends were online, and our communication was sporadic. I ended up being very alone, but it fostered in me some things I'm grateful for (namely, good work ethic, many interests, time to develop hobbies, etc.)

Once I got to college, things took a pleasant turn. I grew comfortable in my skin around others, became less anxious around others, started making puns, and something happened: I made one friend. Then I made two. Then I made a group of friends. Soon I could hold conversations throughout the day with multiple people I knew.

When I got out of work at the tutoring center, I'd head up to the painting studio, where my sister and our group of friends were, and we'd enjoy one another's company. These people saved me in so many ways, made me learn a lot about myself, and made me learn about others. Like all groups, sometimes I learned things about myself that I did not know and was unsure how to confront: I had trouble standing up for myself, I took things personally, I didn't jump on situations that I should have.

When I got a job outside of school, it was at a place where my coworkers were a team, and I quickly became friends with many of them. With this new new introduction to another group, something new happened. I learned more things about myself. With my work friends, I was alienated from the backbone of anyone--it was just Stuti, not my sister, not people I went to class with, no one to speak for me. It was just me, representing myself, learning about others. And I grew more. I became less afraid to try new social things, and I blossomed.

One of my favorite YouTubers, The Fung Brothers, did a video about college groups and being part of one. They advised against staying with the first group who takes you in, because when you're constantly with the same people, you never grow. 

This doesn't mean letting go of old friends; it means making sure that your relationships are meaningful, and also that you can grow to meet and experience other people. It's been a journey for me, who used to be very shy, to embrace being new and putting myself in situations where I don't know anyone. I promise it can be done. Next time you're in a new place, whether a new job, a conference, a networking opportunity, or a hobby event, take your confidence in your hands. Be yourself. You'll be pleasantly surprised who you discover you are.

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