We’ve all been there; facing the moral dilemma of climbing into the sheep’s woolly coat or wearing the tiger’s vibrant stripes. This dilemma is commonly found in a teen-sprawled environment – much like the one we find ourselves in at university.When first arriving at university, students undergo self-interrogation in terms of: Do I retain the self, or just become part of the whole? Many have chosen the latter. As students, we have been faced with the concept of ‘cliques’, from when we started primary school – a concept that should never have taken off in the first place. Since then, it has shaped the way we select friends, how we behave and dress, and even the goals and aspirations we set.

Students were interviewed to find out if they had any concerns when starting university, in terms of making friends. Many responded by stating that, when they started university, it was easier to be themselves and to attempt making true friends – because pretending to be something you do not attract those that are two-faced.

However, they were also asked if they ever had to alter an aspect of their identity, to fit into a certain crowd. From smoking cigarettes and marijuana to tattoos, expensive clothes and ridiculous amounts of makeup – interviewees admitted that some of these trends did emerge. Furthermore, most of the interviewees decided to follow the route of joining the ‘popular crowd’, and ended up bunking classes and lounging in the ‘kraal’ all day. All of this was undertaken in the hope to ‘blend into’ the university populace.

Lastly, the students interviewed were asked to offer fellow students a piece of advice when entering this new environment. Here is what they offered – at the end of the day, no matter how cliché this might sound, it’s always best to be yourself. Focus on what you came here for. If you know where you are going with your studies and your career, you end up attracting people who bring vibrancy and good-heartedness to your life. Ultimately, students strongly suggest that if you’re trying to fit in – don’t!

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