For some of us when we came to FSU, not a single person on campus had a familiar face. There wasn’t anyone to send an awkward smile to as you passed each other by while crossing Landis. Coming into FSU, I had been homeschooled for 12 years so the number of people from my graduating class coming here was one. I would see fellow students who knew each other run into one another and think that I would never have that. I didn’t know how to make friends in classes and was too shy to go to a club myself. In fact, I spent most nights of the first two months of classes tucked away in my dorm doing homework. I didn’t know how going outworked. I didn’t even know what a pregame was. I thought it was something you did before you watched a sport’s game on television.
I’m a senior now, and this semester has been a difficult one for the FSU community. You don’t realize how much your classmates stand out in your mind until semesters later. Just the other day, I walked out of my class and saw my friend from one of my first classes at FSU. While in that freshman year class, I would never have thought I’d still be talking to someone from it years later. I especially didn’t think I’d take a trip to a cat café with a classmate. Running into him and talking was what I wanted so badly freshman year.
A few weeks ago I saw a girl, who was from a group project my freshman year, in a homecoming parade float. I didn’t realize I still remembered her. In Chick-Fil-A I saw a classmate, laughing with friends. My second year here, I joined a sorority, and now I have more people than I could have imagined that first semester to send a smile and a hi to as we cross paths. I can call out a classmate’s name, and we can have a quick conversation, or I can choose not to, and I can watch them go on with their life, with their new class schedule. But for a few seconds I get to remember that class, that room, the chair that I sat in all semester, and I get the chance to relive it.
Every year, the campus seems to shrink as I meet more and more people. Being a senior, I can’t walk anywhere on campus without seeing someone I knew at one point. And it’s a bit bittersweet because maybe we were on the path to being friends, but we let that connection go too early. Maybe I could have been in that group of friends at Chick-Fil-A. Maybe I could have stopped that classmate and said, “Hi.”
If you’re a freshman, FSU will come to feel smaller, and no matter where you are in college, I encourage you to not be afraid to stop that person and have a quick conversation. For me, FSU will only be three years of my life, and I think often about the friendships I could have had. Don’t keep thinking that you’ll have time to go check out that club next semester. Don’t neglect on planning coffee dates with friends. If talking to someone you don’t know that well for even an hour seems daunting and stressful, ask if they want to go see that new movie you were already planning to see. I’ve taken myself on multiple dates to the movies and while that alone time can be nice (Let’s face it. It’s lonely.), you miss out on having someone to break down the movie with afterward. That’s the fun part after all.
We all want FSU to feel like home, so don’t be scared to reach out. That one gesture can be the start of something lifelong. Maybe they could end up in your wedding party. Maybe they’ll be the person your children call aunt or uncle. Don’t take those brief encounters for granted. You never know how many of them you’ll be given.