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Feeling isolated in school


Is it common to seem so isolated in nursing school? I'm wrapping up my first semester in a BSN program and had a huge breakdown this afternoon after a session in the sim lab with some of my classmates. It's not the content that scares me, it's the fact that I don't have any friends in the program. While I was working on my prereqs, I had a awesome group of like-minded friends and since we were working on all the same classes we ended up really close. It meant a lot to me because I'm a very shy and introverted person -- I love people, but I really value the time I have when I'm by myself. Well, I was the only one of my group that was accepted. :o

This past fall has one of the most isolating and emotionally difficult times I've ever experienced. Full disclosure: I'm not a talkative person when I'm not busy doing something. I'm a very kind and positive person, but I think my quiet exterior is making people think that I'm a snob! At my job (I've been waitress and now I'm a receptionist) I'll talk up a storm and be all :yeah:, which is the exact opposite of my personality, because I am so busy I don't think about how scared I am of talking to the people around me! Put me in class at school or social setting where I'm not fully engaged? I get so intimidated at the thought of having to speak up that I'm about as talkative and social as a pet rock.

I'm sure that most of my classmates are very, very nice, but it seems that everybody was admitted with at least one other friend in the program. It makes me feel like I'm the odd one out because I don't want to break into their little social groups. It's almost to the point where I dread having to go into class because even though I'm sitting with people, I'm not a part of it. I'm starting to wish that I was a person who learned well in group study so I'd have an excuse to join one and at least be part of something.

In the sim lab today there were 4 of us going through some sims, and 3 of the 4 were really good friends. They spent the time talking to each other and never even bothered to ask my name (we've been in the same skills lab for the whole semester... I know theirs.) or let alone include me, and I let myself feel intimidated and didn't say very much at all. I'm not an emotional person, but the second I walked out of the building I was in tears. I cried the whole time while my dad was driving me home, then when I got home I called a non-nursing friend and burst into tears again. I guess I still wasn't cried out after that, because my mom came home (she's a nurse) I cried on her shoulder. :crying2: I almost started crying again while I was typing this, lol.

I know this was really long, but now that the semester is coming to a close I'm scared that next semester will be even worse. I don't have any support system at school and now I'm entertaining the idea of intentionally failing a class so I'll be held back from advancing. I know several people that were just admitted for the upcoming spring semester so at least I'll have friends.

It's only been one semester....cut yourself some slack. While there are always exceptions, it would be unusual to find a best friend with so short a time, real friendships tend to develop over time.

In the meantime, focus on being a friend to those around you. Start small, so maybe each day of class or clinical, try to start a conversation with someone you don't speak with usually. It could be about anything, the last lecture y'all heard, an assignment that you're working on or even a good old standby like the weather.

My guess is that you'll soon find some folks to be friendly with :-)

I feel you.. I've been in those situations before where I feel like I'm the odd one out in a group. And I'm sorry that those other girls didn't feel the need to at least include you in their discussions in your skill lab. That's horrible. You should try to start talking to a person you feel the most approachable and hopefully build yourself up from there. I am starting nursing school in Spring and I am going to a school where I know no one so I'm scared as well and only hope I can find a great group of friends.. It hard because I too had a great group of pre-nursing friends but they got accepted to another skool and me to another one. It sucks, but that's life.. I'm hoping things get better for you.. But try to break out of your shell a bit and who knows, you might make a few friends. All the best of luck to you! :)


Specializes in Home Care.

The first step in making new friends is to put your hand out and introduce yourself, don't wait for others to do the same.

Even if you don't like study groups, join one so that you can make friends. You don't have to attend regularly, just get people to know who you are.

When you meet someone new, engage them in conversation by asking questions about themselves. Let them ask you questions and don't tie up the conversation by talking only about yourself.

Offer to help someone, but let them lead.

You've had plenty of time to observe the groups of people in your class. Pick a group that seems friendly to outsiders, there's always at least one. If you watch their interactions you'll also see that there's always at least one person who is more of a loner and willing to make new friends. Introduce yourself to this person.

You can do it!

I can be shy in social situations but the best thing I've found to do is to fake it until you make it. Take a deep breath and just act. Smile and say hi and introduce yourself. The more you do it the easier it is.

I'm so sorry you feel isolated, but it is only the first semester. Study groups are a great idea, you can also ask class members questions about material (even if you know the answer) to help break the ice.

I think part of it is psyching yourself up about how awesome you are- you are worth knowing, and you have something positive to contribute to a friendship.

The first step is to chat people up, and the more people you get aquainted with, the more the people that will really click with you will come out of the woodwork.

I know how you feel. I am in a similar situation now. You are lucky to have friends you can call and a mother who lets you cry on your shoulder. I had a great group in my prereqs but the new school has a very different vibe and I just haven't really bonded with anyone. I went home crying the other day after a SIM too. :crying2: I think it all depends on the class dynamics and sometime you get lucky and sometimes not. I am close to graduating now and I never got into a study group, even though I wanted to, and tried to join several but they always fell apart or I didn't feel welcome. At this point, I figure that I am not here to make best friends with anyone, I am here to learn. Yes, it is easier when you feel supported but sometimes you need to demand the support, it doesn't always just fall in your lap. Its good practice anyway, because this is how it will be in the nursing world. You'll be working with people you have never met before, and you'll need to establish a working relationship in minutes. And you'll need to be independant. Just be friendly, helpful and interested in others. Ask about them and their lives. I don't think anyone in my class knows anything about me, because they never ask, but I ask about them. I know if they have kids, where they work, what their husbands names are.... Offer to help, offer to take the lead in a project, and be independant in your thinking and actions. Being part of a group may feel better, but its not required, and you will be a better nurse sooner because you will develop skills and self confidence that the pansy girls who needed to lean on their friends never got. Accept that you are independant! That is NOT a bad thing!! :yeah: