The summer before my freshman year of college I was super excited. I went into it thinking college would come with getting instant friends and constantly going out and being a flirting professional at frat parties. High school friendships are pretty easy to maintain given that you spend eight hours a day and five days a week with the same people, but in college when your schedule begins to take a different shape it can be easy to make meaningful friendships beyond classroom GroupMe’s. Needless to say, my freshman year did not go as I had planned so here are some of the little lessons I learned along the way.
- Do not be afraid to go out and do something on your own. You don’t need a friend or a date to sit down at chipotle and eat the burrito, and no one will think you are weird. There’s going to be a lot of things you suddenly need to do by yourself, and I missed out on a lot of experiences by being too afraid to do things alone.
- Surround yourself with people you want to be like and want to do well, and (this next part is key) make an effort to hang out with them and talk to them outside of just asking them to look at your notes. Ask them if they want to grab a bite to eat or go to Starbucks. Show people you’re interested in knowing them beyond the classroom. I used to go to the gym with a friend after classes and we would people watch and of course stare at all the chiseled guys.
- Make an effort to be involved. There are thousands of different groups and organizations for almost every interest and it doesn’t even need to be campus connected. Take a pottery class, go on a hike, start bullet-journaling, find a little part-time job. Engaging with the campus and community will bring you friends and connections.
- If you like someone, just ask them for their number. The worst-case scenario is that they will just say no. Sure, nobody likes rejection, but it’s such a short little word it’s over before you know it. Also, imagine how much it would brighten someone else’s day just knowing that someone took interest in them.
- Do SOMETHING. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to just sit in your dorm or apartment stewing and sad. You’ll just be binge-watching Netflix and gaining the freshman fifteen from ramen. It’s ok to be on your own and be fine with it. The message of this is not to say that to be happy you need to have a bunch of friends and be going out all the time. To have a healthy mind you need to find a good balance of ‘me’ time and socialization, just don’t let yourself get stuck in a bubble. Staying cooped up will just create a cycle of unhappiness that is very difficult to break. Don’t get in the way of your own happiness.
- Whenever you’re feeling down call your mom or dad, or maybe a friend from high school. It definitely took me moving away from home to appreciate my mom as much as I should. Your mom is probably one of the few people in your life that wants you to blow her phone up, so take advantage of it. I call her probably three or four times a week now, and I talk to one of my friends from home on the phone at least once a day. Staying connected isn’t as hard as people make it out to be, and sending a quick little text to friends and loved ones goes a long way to make people feel good about themselves. When I get bored I send my grandmas a text that simply says,”Thinking of you! Love you!” and they get so happy every time. Giving other’s happiness is an awesome way to bring happiness to yourself.
At the end of the day, just be flexible and be patient. College isn’t what anyone thinks it will be, and there are other people feeling the same way you are. This isn’t a finite list, but if you’re making the effort and still feeling that something is off you can always take advantage of the therapy services offered by the campus! There are always options available, and no one should ever feel like they’re going through college alone.