How to Manage Being the only Minority in a Friend Group

The other day was speaking to a college sophomore and he asked me, in one of my friend groups, I’m the only minority. Do you have any advice on just not letting this fact making me too self-conscious?

1. First thing I would say is just be yourself.

I think people in this situation might naturally try to conform and fit in to the thinking of your other friends, I think psychologists call this confirmation bias.

You can’t allow that for the most part. Be yourself. Don’t shy away from talking about your experiences or expressing your viewpoints/opinions.

It’s important for them to hear those viewpoints and it’s also just important for you to be able to feel like you can always share yourself and be your authentic you.

2. Discussing social issues can be tough

I would say don’t feel like you need to represent all people of color or your race

I think sometimes as a minority in a friend group, when social issues are being discussed, you may be looked at to provide commentary speaking for the whole race.

First, that’s not possible. Second, that’s not a healthy expectation.

It’s fair to speak on your thoughts and your viewpoints based on your experiences. I think that can be helpful to all parties, especially to your friends who never experienced the things you have.

Also, just be careful, in these types of debates, because it may feel like you’re going 1 on everyone else, which can feel very isolating and may affect your relationship with your other friends.

If you are passionate about social issues, you can speak about your own research that you’ve done. However, I don’t think you should force yourself, to educate yourself on social issues simply because you feel pressured to represent your race.

3. Have empathy for people’s backgrounds

You may be asked to explain terms or wording.

I remember being asked, why do Indian girls where that dot on their head?

At first, I got angry, how does this person not know it’s called a bindi?

But you have to take a step back and realize, oh okay, this person never had any brown/Indian friends growing up so they have no context.

4. Race obviously shapes a lot, but certain things where you don’t need to think about it

Race obviously shapes a lot of a human’s experience, but I think there’s also points where you don’t need to be thinking in the lens of your race when interacting with your friends — for example, when you’re debating sports or playing sports, you can just be yourselves.

People are people at the end of the day, and so hopefully, there can be some stuff where you don’t need to think about being the only minority in your group of friends.

Unrelated to these 4 points, I just want to encourage people to have diverse friend groups. Teach you about different viewpoints and different ways of life and what to be mindful of.

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Arnav Roy

Arnav Roy

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Mental health advocate, host of Grateful Living Podcast. Life Coach. YouTube Channel: Grateful Living. Instagram @aroy81547.