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Topic: I'm the weird one out there

3 posts, 0 answered
  1. yuki_imafuyu
    yuki_imafuyu avatar
    2 posts
    21 October 2020

    anyone can relate them being the left-out one/ background friend in a group? I'm a new immigrant from Asia and have been in Australia for nearly a year. Because in my homeland we don't speak English frequently, or maybe it's just my English level is below average, i often can't express what i truly want to say. when my classmates are starting interesting conversations, i tried to engage in it by speaking a few words or giving some reactions. but it turns out i'm the one ruining the vibe. it becomes awkward whenever i speak and people will look at me with a face that says 'i don't understand what you're saying/ what are you doing here?'. even some international students have done a better job than me. they have the good social skills that i don't have and manage to fuse into a friend group within a week or 2. this doesn't work for me. it has almost been a year, and it seems that i don't have someone i could call as a 'true friend'.

    from the next week onwards i will be going back to school, and struggling during every lesson, recess and lunchtime to find someone to talk to. some classmates, who are so kind-hearted, will try to talk to me and ask me to be groupmate during group project. i'm so thankful for them for not letting me feel left-out, but at the same i feel extremely guilty, because they could have partnered their close friends. they could have spent their time happily with friends joking around, but instead, they choose me. i feel i have to at least not being that boring, but my mind goes blank every time. the conversation turns out to be dull and didn't last for long. when i realize that i could have made a joke afterwards, it's always too late.

  2. james1
    Community Champion
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    james1 avatar
    2945 posts
    21 October 2020 in reply to yuki_imafuyu

    Hello yuki_imafuyu,

    Welcome to the BeyondBlue forums, and a one-year late welcome to Australia as well!

    I am sorry to hear that you feel like you can't express what you truly want to say. My family is from China and my Cantonese and Mandarin are both quite bad, so I can never really express what I want to say when I go back to visit. I also feel really awkward and I feel like the weird one, even among my own family. I know it is not the same since you now live here, but I understand how it can be a very bad feeling.

    So I am really sad to hear that you do not feel like you have any true friends here, and I understand you are concerned about going back to school again next week. You also mentioned feeling extremely guilty because some of those kind classmates could have partnered with their close friends, but they chose you instead. May I suggest that sometimes it can be helpful to simply express what you feel to people. I understand that expressing feelings is difficult in some cultures, but if these classmates are kind and understanding, explaining how you feel and the challenges you have with English may help them understand that you appreciate their company, even if you don't know how to make easy conversation yet.

    Thank you for posting here. It is nice to speak with you.

    James

  3. Emmen
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    Emmen avatar
    388 posts
    21 October 2020 in reply to yuki_imafuyu

    Hello yuki_imafuyu,

    Hello from another immigrant from Asia!

    I'm sorry school has been tough on you. Like you, I am not comfortable in social situations and I usually don't know what to do to join a group or make friends (I usually wait for others to make the first move). We speak English as our primary language in my homeland and I still found socializing here hard. I can't even imagine how it is for you when you have to socialize in a language you're not as comfortable in. I'm glad you've reached out today.

    Yuki, this may sound like scary advice, but the best thing for you to do is to actually keep speaking in English even if you feel self-conscious. The more you speak, the more you practice the language. Conversely if you stay quiet because you feel you're ruining the vibe, you're denying yourself the opportunity to learn how to fit in.

    Start talking more to the people who ask you to be their groupmate. They're not just asking you out of kindness, they do like you enough to want you to be on their group. Put yourself in their shoes - if you met an international student in your homeland, you'd ask them to be in your group because you wanted to know them, right? Not because you disliked them.

    You're putting a lot of pressure on yourself to be perfect in English when you're still getting used to speaking it as a primary language here. Because of that, you're very self-conscious. The result is that your mind goes blank when you feel called on to respond or socialize (which themselves are stressful situations for you). So be kind to yourself and give yourself time to adjust. Practice speaking to yourself in English in front of a mirror and trust in your speaking abilities because a lot of your hesitation probably comes from a lack of confidence. One more thing I've found useful when getting used to speaking another language is to try and think in that language instead of translating from your main language into the other language. It takes more time and effort (and it's more difficult), but you'll see the difference because you start responding more quickly.

    It'll get better soon. Don't lost hope.

    Feel free to reach out if you want to.

    Kindly,
    M

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