It’s that time of year. Back to University and time to make a fresh start; a new impression. Whatever you were before you will no longer be and that long awaited transformation begins today. Maybe you’ve had a new haircut, dyed your hair or even lost weight; or maybe you just feel different? Because you know, deep down, that everyone you meet from this moment will be dealing with the new you, the better you. Lucky them.
This renaissance is even more important for first year students. Indeed thinking back on my first year at University I find it damn near impossible to believe that anyone there hadn’t asked themselves those all important questions when preparing to meet their fellow residents. “How does this look?”, “How do I look?” and more importantly “What will people think of me?” People cope with these feelings differently; some do the “wacky” thing, some people are extra “nice” and then you get your hyper alpha-males or females. You know the ones. Every party has to revolve around them. They drink more, dance more, dress better. They’ve done everything (sometimes, uncomfortably, everyone) and they’re more than happy to proffer the wealth of their experience.
First impressions are so important, maybe they shouldn’t be but they are, so how do you make sure that at those first parties and nights in you make a good one? O.K now this is a tricky area, what we want is to avoid generalisations and value judgements right? Right-ish I would say becuase no matter how hard you try no one else seems to bother. You’ll see it all the time in that particular television genre based entirely on the concept of screaming “What is she wearing?” whilst throwing money at bad taste and hoping it gets so embarrased from all the attention that it eventually just slinks away.Whether people warm to you or not depends on many variables but if you’re a pleasant person who’s looking for friends then you should find yourself in the same boat as most of the human race. So you can start by relaxing; if there’s no good reason for people to dislike you then they will like you.
Be yourself… unhelpful right? Right-ish, it’s just a matter of interpretation. Everyone wants to feel a little different at University, after all it’s a massive change and when you really think about it this is the first time that most people will be able to express themselves, away from home, on entirely their own terms. So do think about it, “Who are you?” You see there’s no point giving general rules like “don’t dye your hair too bright” because some people find colourful hair to be a helpful asset in expressing to others who they really are. I could fill an entire article with don’ts but I won’t.
If you’re planning a transformation then for the love of God avoid making the whole image a “lie”. People will notice. For example if you were a bit conservative at school and decide that now is the time to adopt that sex kitten persona you’ve been hiding away all these years then fine; but people aren’t stupid. If that persona isn’t you, if you’re just dressing to impress, then they will know and the entire effect will seem insincere (which it kind of is, a bit). That doesn’t mean you can’t try, believe me people do, but don’t make things hard on yourself, and certainly don’t style yourself to appeal to other peoples’ tastes.
An inner goth might make an appearance at University, and he or she is welcome; that’s the marvellous thing about University, there’s so many new people that you’re bound to come across some like minded ones. The problem is that if you don’t feel comfortable, that is if the image is forced, then it will show. It will show very quickly. This is your life remember, why should you be standing at a party next week in new clothes that you aren’t comfortable in just because you think this is what you should be doing? Far better to dress in a way that expresses you, whoever you are. I firmly believe that University is the time that most people start to really work out their style and, believe it or not, it is far better to like and to feel excited by what clothes you chose to put on in the morning (or whenever you find yourself waking up in those first weeks).
Maybe this is a time for discovery and not reinvention; the teenage rebellion should be long behind you now so be prepared for yourself, you may surprise you.