You’re on the highway with your mom in the driver’s seat and a mountain of your most “necessary” belongings hanging on for dear life behind you in the trunk/backseat of the car you were driven to school in for the all thirteen years of academia you have just finished completing. Having memorized your room assignment and the schedule you signed up for months before, you’re not that worried about getting around or what to expect, but you’re still nervous. You’re going alone for the first time. There’s no family to come home to at night to tell that it did not go perfectly and there’s no childhood bedroom to feel familiarly comfortable.
You’re lonely, and you haven’t even gotten there yet.
People like to talk about college like it’s a bundle pack that you can buy at Progressive Insurance. They like to make it sound like you get your dorm, your classes, and a new friend group all at once as you walk down an assembly line. Unfortunately, it’s not always like that. Though you can love those on your dorm floor, they might not be those who you run to when you want to watch your favorite show or go to a restaurant in downtown. You might not walk in to find a freshly organized group of people who have been waiting for you to complete them.
How do you find your people? Well, unfortunately, it takes a bit of putting yourself out there. It’s not like high school, where by lunch time of your first day you have to have a group to chill with or else you have to transfer to yet another school. In college, loneliness can be a lot more silent. In order to avoid this, get involved where you’re passionate. Go play that sport that you loved growing up. Find a study buddy in your major. Discover a new club. If you follow what makes you happy, usually people who make you happy are there, too.
You’re nearing the end of your freshman year. You realize that you still don’t have a group of people that you can really call your own. That’s still alright. I, for example, did not meet my best friends until fall quarter of my sophomore year. I met them singing Disney songs for a theatre club on campus. I didn’t stop there. I joined publications and got a new job. At each of these places I found more and more people who felt like they were meant to be in my life. It became increasingly difficult to recall a time in which I felt lonely because I found people that understood me for the first time in my whole life.
If you don’t have your group yet, relax. They’re just hiding from you and you have to find them. There is always hope. Since you’re attending a school of 35,000 students, there’s a hot chance that someone here is about to brighten your whole world. Happiness exists in college and it exists with the people around you. Now that you’ve ditched the hierarchal types of friend groups that existed in your youth, you can really focus on what matters: People who make you happy and people who understand you.
Go to a club fair. Sit with a sign that says, “Be my friend.” Whatever it is, don’t let the awesome people of this university pass you by.