Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset: Integrating Into A Class With Existing Friend Groups

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By Alena Siaw (24S03O) and Elise Chua (24S03F, Peer Helper)

Your resident Aunties and Uncles are back with our Ask Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset column, this time as a collaboration between Raffles Press and Peer Helpers’ Programme (PHP)! Ever wanted to rant about that someone you just can’t stand? Overwhelmed with too many feelings? Submit your confessions to and we’ll give them our best shot. This column will be published at the end of every month.

“I feel like the other people in my class all have existing friend groups and I’m not sure how to bond with them.”

Worrisome Wally

Dear Worrisome Wally, 

Seeing your classmates establish close-knit friendships whilst feeling left out amongst them can be an intimidating and challenging experience, especially in JC where a strong support system is crucial. The fear of feeling excluded or not fitting in is natural, but it’s important to remember that integration is possible with some effort and understanding! 

Feeling excluded is a common and very painful human experience, but it’s okay to feel this way. An article that explored the effects of being left out highlighted that one’s response to any form of exclusion is swift and powerful, inducing a social agony that registers in the body as physical pain.

In short, even brief episodes involving strangers activate pain centres in the brain inciting anger and sadness, increasing stress and lowering self-esteem. 

Hence, recognise that your feelings are valid and that many others have gone through similar situations. Remember that these initial feelings are temporary, and as you progress, you will likely develop new connections and friendships, so do keep on persevering through this difficult circumstance.

It’s valid to feel left out in a new environment. (Source)

Here are some tips that can help you adapt to the social environment of your class:

Firstly, approachability is key when trying to integrate into the class. Smile, make eye contact, and be open to conversations. Show genuine interest in getting to know your classmates. Simple gestures like initiating conversations, asking questions, and actively listening can go a long way in creating a positive impression of yourself and bridging the gap between you and your classmates.

Having open body language, like maintaining eye contact, is crucial! (Source

Secondly, look for shared interests or common ground with your classmates. This could be anything from hobbies, favourite books or movies, sports, to academic subjects. Participate in class discussions and group activities, contributing your ideas and opinions. By engaging with others, you increase the chances of finding connections and potential friendships. 

Thirdly, don’t lose hope! There are many opportunities to form bonds by participating in extracurricular activities that help you expand your social circle beyond the classroom. Join clubs and societies, sign up for the myriad of events regularly broadcasted on Outlook and Stamford, or go for VIA projects that align with your interests.

These activities provide opportunities for you to interact with a diverse range of students who share similar passions. Through collaborating in shared activities, you increase your chances of forming meaningful connections. You can even invite your classmates to participate in the same activities, which will definitely open up new conversation topics among you. 

Fourthly, look out for other classmates who may also be feeling somewhat left out, alone or are perhaps on the shy and introverted side. They may be just waiting for someone to come up to them and initiate a conversation or activity, and would probably be more open to your attempts to bond with them than (perhaps) those who already formed their own clique.

Fifthly, there is a chance (however small that is) that you may simply not have any chemistry with your classmates or schoolmates, and that is not your fault, especially if you have had lots of positive experiences making friends with others in the past. If this is what you think is happening, perhaps you can direct your energy into making friends outside of your class school instead, and focus on academics and learning when in class and during lessons. 

Lastly, it’s crucial to remember that your self-worth is not determined by your inclusion in a specific friend group. Focus on building self-confidence and practising self-care instead. Engage in activities that bring you joy and boost your self-esteem. When you radiate confidence and show a positive attitude, others are more likely to be drawn to you.

Types of self-care to practise frequently! (Source)

Integration into existing friend groups takes time and effort. It won’t happen overnight, as building relationships and friendships is an ongoing journey, so be patient with the process. Stay persistent and continue putting yourself out there! Celebrate even the smallest victories and connections made along the way. 

Remember, you are not alone, and many others are experiencing similar emotions and situations. Stay positive, keep an open mind, and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead!

Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset

If you need anyone to talk to about any issues you might be facing, do drop by My Rest Space near Marymount gate and talk to one of our peer helpers! We’re open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 3 – 5 p.m, and Wednesday 11.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m. If you would like to meet a peer helper on a regular basis, do email us a request at or fill in our request form at our website

Do check Mental Health Awareness Week at the Canteen Walkway from 27th July to 4th August 2023! For more details: go to Instagram @rafflespeerhelpers or our website above.

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