How to Combat Feeling Lost in College: Friend Edition

College can sometimes seem like a big and tricky maze. You are bound to get lost, run into something you didn't originally expect, become frustrated and finally become hopeful again. I know I felt like this during my first year of college...I was struggling to find a close group of friends, I felt lost in general and I wished I could belong to something. But don’t worry, all of this is normal, and everyone is in the same boat—even if it may not seem like it.

My social expectations of college were much more different than the reality behind it. I assumed I was going to find a large group of friends and stick with them for all four years, while also meeting new people here and there. I basically thought it would be like high school, and I understand that a lot of incoming freshman feel like this too. But it wasn’t until my second year that I accepted that I can branch out fully. Everything got better because I started making myself a priority and becoming more socially available to people. I immersed myself in UCLA culture by joining new clubs I never thought about before, making small conversations in the elevators with strangers, becoming more willing to meet friends of friends and being more comfortable reaching out to make plans with new people. All of this sounds really scary, but trust me, it is all worth it in the end.

Whenever I put myself out there with a new group of people or even in a one on one interaction, I use a few tips that have always helped me. I always try to look my best on the outside. People naturally navigate towards others that are confident. Some tactics I use to feel more confident in social situations or gatherings include making sure I felt happy with the way I look. Put together an outfit that makes you smile, and a sense of confidence will overcome you. and people will definitely notice. Another useful tip is to put your phone away. When you use your phone in large groups, it makes people assume you are more reserved and not to be bothered with, but you want the opposite of just that. Put your phone away, and simply be present. Not only will you radiate more, but you can also spark up a new friendship and who knows, even a new potential relationship. Also, joining new clubs and organizations is definitely one of the easiest ways to meet new people and simultaneously feel like you belong to something. There will always be new people who feel just as nervous or intimated as you when you enter a room where a weekly meeting will be held. Use this to your advantage, and be the person who starts the conversations.

Make sure to always have an open mind. If you feel like you don’t have a place on your campus, you definitely do. You are automatically part of the university family. Remember that building friendships takes time, and sometimes it takes a heart to heart or repeating one on one hang outs to develop a strong friendship. So in the tricky maze that is college, you are bound to find people to help you get through it.