Like many people, I did not really feel like I fit in at my high school. I could never find a group of people that I really connected with, so that’s why I always looked forward to college. I saw it as a chance for me to actually meet people that I had things in common with and maybe expand my social circle to more than 2 friends. However, college was not at all what I had expected. Being at such a big school like UCLA, I found it difficult to meet people or find where I belonged. Although I eventually did find places and people that I loved, it took a while. Here’s why you shouldn’t put so much pressure on yourself if you don’t find a group of people you “fit in” with your freshman year.
I went into college as an extremely shy, out-of-state freshman that was terrified to be away from home for the first time. I had no idea which dining hall I was going to eat at that night, let alone what clubs or organizations I wanted to join. I felt like a small fish in a giant ocean of UCLA. It seemed like everyone already had groups of friends and I didn’t. Looking back, I realize how I felt back then was completely normal and pretty much a universal freshman experience. It may seem like everyone already has a giant group of friends by the second week of school, but that’s definitely not true. Sure, there are some people that know each other from high school that end up sticking together, but the rest of people are just trying to fit in and find their people. It may look like everyone’s making friends and hanging out together, but most of the time, people just want to make it look like they’re making friends and having a good time. I know I used to look on social media and be jealous of everyone from high school who were already posting pictures with their “new friends.” Oftentimes these “new friends” were people they didn’t even know that well. Everyone wants to make it seem like they are making all of these friends and fail to post all the moments of themselves struggling alone in their dorm room. I myself was guilty of posting pictures with others when I didn’t really know them just to make it appear to people in my high school that I was having a good time in college. However, in reality, I was alone most of the time and felt like I had no real friends.
It’s so normal to not find a group of best friends your freshman year, especially when people are trying to still figure out their values and what they want to do. College is really the time in people’s lives where they learn more about themselves and who they really are. It takes time for everyone to settle down and get used to college life and find where they fit in. Especially at such a big school like UCLA, it takes a bit of time to find groups that you connect with. Freshman year is the time to try new clubs and activities and rule out things that you like and don’t like. You have four years to meet people and make friends, so it doesn’t need to all be figured out your freshman year. I spent so much of my freshman year worrying about being alone and not making enough friends that I didn’t even join things that I was really interested in and wanted to do. Although making friends is great and important, doing things that you love to do is even more important. In fact, discovering what you love to do will most likely even connect you with the right friends. Once I discovered that, I met some people that I consider my closest friends.
It may seem like there is a lot of pressure on you to find a group of people you “fit in” with immediately after starting college, but just remember that there is so much time for you to find good friends later on. College is not like high school; there are no cliques you have to fit in. Even if you meet one or two friends your sophomore year that you really click with, that’s amazing. In the times where you feel alone, focus on doing what you’re passionate about and eventually, if you stick with doing what you love, the right people will come to you when you least expect it.