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Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Specializing in mental health counseling
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I am in a new class in the university this year.I am a

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I am in a new class in the university this year.I am a studious student but have some problems.When I enter the class I come out as "smart" that is people say "you seem to be smart" or " you are confident and dynamic".I know there is no thing as smart and my confidence is something I spend a lot of time working on.Here is the thing:Because I seem "smart" I have a lot of people that ask me for any problems they have with lessons.I have managed to handle them by being assertive and understanding so I could protect my time.But here is something else that my " smartness" brings along.Competition...I have people who when I ask for help they do not give it to me because they think that that will help me get a better grade than them.That is if I miss a lesson they will say that we had nothing in class and we had 2 big assignments.This is happening only in this university!!!Also because I am 30 years old I tried to be friends with someone only to find out that he used me to " show off" that he hung around with the 30 year old.When for instance me and this guy need to chat about our lectures he insists on us sitting at the centre of the student bar.I denied when I realized what was happening and changed courses with him but immediately after he started hugging around with me he got into the coolest " gang" of people in the university whom are the ultimate snobs.( who are desperate for other people's notes!!!)Why do I come out as smart and confident although I feel so stupid and insecure?Should I try to be more goofy(?)I try to be honest to others about how I feel and they do not believe me and even If I do not know how to help them in an exercise they think I am doing it on purpose(I had problems with Daphni a girl who actually called me a whore for not helping her although I had great difficulties with the certain assignment and consulted the professor). Do I really come out as smart and confident or is it what others want to see in me so they can take advantage of me being studious without caring for my feelings?
Hi there,
I'm Alicia -- thanks for your question, I'm happy to help you today.
So, my initial thought from reading your message was that it's quite a compliment to have so many of your classmates asking you for help, because it's obvious that they admire your abilities, but on the other hand, I see how that could easily be taken advantage of and cause you to lose focus on what's important to you right now (namely, your own studies!) At the same time, you have a bit of a reversal going on with people who are refusing to help you, even if it's over seemingly trivial things, such as telling you what lessons you've missed if you haven't been able to make it to class.
Regardless, what I imagine is going on here is that many of your classmates see you as "wiser" and more experienced, partly due to your age (perhaps) and partly due to the confidence that you exude. Even though you say you don't feel confident at all, I get the impression that you're coming across that way to your peers because you're obviously intelligent and diligent about your studies. You probably come across as more mature and they want to be around you in the hopes that some of your intelligence and maturity will rub off on them. People always want to be around others who they feel are higher up on the totem pole, so to speak, because then it elevates their "status" as well. That being said, I don't think you should try to be anything you're not. So if you're not naturally goofy, for example, it will come across as feigned and unnatural and people may start to wonder about your sudden change of character. That's not to say that you can't let loose every now and then, relax a bit, use humor and have fun with your classmates, either. But there's a fine line between relaxing and going overboard.
I do not believe that it's a case of others trying to take advantage of you, I think it's more a case that they admire you and look up to you, and therefore quite possibly attribute certain qualities to you that they themselves wish they had.
Your being assertive, without being cocky, being kind and helpful when you want to be and feel like you can be, maintaining a sense of humor, relaxing a bit and being true to who you are on the inside is the best way to deal with the situation. It's hard not to be swayed by situations like this, especially since I imagine you're surrounded by classmates who are several years younger than you (and therefore have less life experience and so forth), so they are actually most likely a bit intimidated by you.
I wouldn't advise changing who you are much, aside from letting go and relaxing about this situation if you can - and in fact, I would say to try not to analyze things too much, because quite frankly, you might run the risk of driving yourself up the wall. If they don't like you for who you are, that's their problem - and if they don't believe you when you say certain things (like not being able to help with certain problems) that's also their problem. Just relax, laugh a bit more, and don't be afraid to let down your guard if you feel comfortable doing so - but don't feel that you have to change the way you inherently are for anyone else.
I know it can be a difficult situation, but it seems like you're handling it as best as you can. Because your classes have just started relatively recently, it's probably a case of everyone getting used to each other and things will start to resolve of their own accord in time.
I hope that helps, and I wish you luck. Please let me know if you need additional assistance.
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