Kayla Bacon-Dramatically Skipping Down Road

An Unconventional Approach to Making New Friends

At the beginning of my freshman year, my experience with making new friends could be best described as dating. I would hang out with someone once and never talk to them again, or I’d hit it off right away but eventually, things would fizzle out. Finding a friend that I truly connected with felt nearly impossible. I tried a million different ways to meet people I clicked with, but it felt like nothing was working. Unlike some, my roommates and I didn’t become super close. My lecture halls were too big to meet anyone most of the time. I even tried a few organizations that year, but I felt like I was changing myself to be what I thought others wanted. I felt like I was hanging out with different people every month.

Girl lying on bed alone

Prior to being in college, I never really struggled with meeting friends, so I felt lost on what to do. Making friends in college is far different than any other phase of life. Before, I was in classes with the same people all day, every day. But in college, there could be hundreds of students in one class, so you never even sit by the same person. It was discouraging to feel like nobody else was having a hard time meeting people apart from myself.

I found myself so focused on meeting new people and navigating this new phase of life that I never even considered reaching out to people I knew from back home. By people I knew, I mean the ones I had mutual friends with or followed on social media, but never really talked to much. With UCF having so many students, there were plenty of people I knew from home on campus, but I would usually just wave to them in passing. It wasn’t until one of them, Cara, actually reached out to me on Instagram about one of the organizations I was in. We both went to elementary and middle school together, but were never really close. We had mutual friends and an idea of what the other was like, but that was about as much as we knew.

We began talking about our similar struggles in meeting people and the many ways we had tried to make friends. This made me realize I wasn't the only one with this struggle, and it was the perfect reason to give being friends a shot. When we started to hang out, to no surprise, we had a lot in common. We were able to talk about different people we both knew and experiences we shared in the town we grew up in. There are so many amazing qualities our friendship has specifically because of this history we share together — like when we tell stories, we usually know the other people involved, or when we are back home for breaks we still get to hang out.

Anna Schultz-Girls Laying In Grass At The Park

It took Cara reaching out for me to realize how focused I was on the idea that I had to meet new people to make friends. In all other phases of our lives, we existed in the background of each other’s, whereas now we do everything together. Our friendship, while familiar, was still new. It might seem unconventional, but sometimes it’s not about meeting new people — it’s about reaching out to the ones we already know.