Why It’s Okay If You Haven’t Found Your Best Friends in College

To say college is stressful would be an understatement. Us collegiettes are expected to balance busy class schedules, hours of homework, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, and personal health, all while maintaining a social life? Who are we supposed to be, Wonder Woman? All these demands can pile up quickly and add serious anxiety to your daily life. One big source of stress for many college women is the social aspect – it can be overwhelming to try to keep up with friendships and make time for social outings and events while also trying to stay on top of schoolwork and other responsibilities.

What’s even more troublesome for countless college women is reaching senior year and not yet having found a true best friend or small clique of very close friends. But as worrisome and even upsetting as that may seem, it’s truly not the end of the world, and not even a bad thing. We spoke to some college counselors and specialists to hear why being a college senior without a best friend group is okay.

Real-life friends aren't always like what you see in movies.

Kelci Lucier, education writer and co-founder of The College Parent Handbook, explains that the myth of needing to find your lifelong best friend while in college is just that – a myth. “This certainly can be true, but it also doesn't have to be,” she says. “So don't worry if you don't have a life-long friend or best friend at any point; your job is more to explore friendships with people that allow you to grow and develop.” 

She suggests considering your relationships and friends back during high school. It’s more than likely that those friendships evolved substantially between freshman year and by the time you graduated. Odds are, your personality, interests and values changed as you grew older and matured, and the people you chose and wanted to surround yourself with probably changed along with you, too.

It's not me, it's not you, it's us. 

Dr. Naomi Brown of Stanford University’s Student Counseling Center also echoes how our volatile and dynamic personal characteristics in college play a role in friendship-making. “Personality variables like introversion and extroversion affect friendship making styles,” she elaborates. “College is an inherently transitional place and space. Everyone comes and goes every 4-5 years, and many friendships disperse as students relocate to start their new jobs and lives.”

She further attributed the struggle many students face in dealing with the disappointment over not having discovered lifelong friends in college to multiple reasons – random roommate assignments not lucking out, proximity to other students in their dorm, and personality differences that ultimately put a strain on relationships, to give some examples. These external factors are out of one’s control, and can complicate efforts to make enduring, genuine relationships with people that may just be simply incompatible with you.

Related: 7 Unexpected Places to Meet Your College Friends

Socializing is not easy, and especially not in a high-stress and challenging environment like college campuses, as Julie Zeilinger, author of College 101: A Girl's Guide To Freshman Yearnotes. Having to acclimate to an entirely different culture and social scene, adjust emotionally to living away from home, and forge friendships with new people who may or may not also share the same stress and discomforts as you do is by no means an easy feat.

Go out on a limb (or two, or three).

If struggling with these difficulties in terms of making friends, she recommends stepping out of one’s comfort zone. “College campuses are full of passionate, diverse students with unique talents and interests. Make it your personal mission to find somebody radically different from yourself and befriend him or her,” she says. “Although it’s great to find people who understand you on an intimate level, who can relate to you in a specific way, it’s also vitally important to meet people who maintain different perspectives and values than you do. Maybe the friendship will work in the long term and maybe it won’t, but it will definitely be a valuable experience in some way.”

Lucier also concludes with a piece of advice, saying “as long as you're investing in yourself and exploring ideas and experiences in ways that match your values and interests, you're doing everything right – bestie or not.” It’s most important to use your college experience for you – your academic interests, your personal maturation, your career preparation. And if you don’t happen to find those around you that you can truly bond with and develop deep, meaningful connections during those few years, that’s okay, too.

Related: (Still) Making Friends In College

Yes, the thought of having the Blair to your Serena is nice, but graduating with yourself as your sole focus is just as beneficial and satisfying for your own health, growth and happiness. Concentrate on appreciating and taking care of yourself and your self-esteem. You are young and just starting out in your life, so there are countless more years ahead of you to find your true best friends! After all, the best things in life are worth waiting for. 

About The Author

Hey, I'm Casey! I'm a third year student at the University of Virginia studying Global Security and Justice with a minor in French. At school, I'm involved in many clubs, volunteer programs, and my sorority. I love reading novels, trying new healthy recipes and workouts, and long distance running almost as much as I love nachos, any dessert involving peanut butter, and laying in bed wasting my time on Pinterest and bingeing House of Cards on Netflix. I'm also arguably the world's biggest Harry Potter fan, and have been known to watch all 8 movies in the span of one day. If you also enjoy debating whether Harry should have ended up with Hermione instead of Ginny or watching Facebook food videos for hours on end, we should be best friends immediately.