Coming to Winthrop as a freshman, I assumed that I’d meet my best friends in the first few weeks here.
We’d grow closer every day and have tons of adventures and memories to look back on later. I thought I’d find a group that was comforting and supportive when I needed them, and I’d do the same for them. I’d still keep up with my high school friends, though, and it’d feel like we weren’t apart at all. We’d FaceTime and call each other, showing our new dorms and venting about difficult classes, and we’d still know everything going on in each other’s lives. Making friends would be the easy part of college without any stress or drama.
The thing is, that’s not how it is at all.
Connecting with new people is one of the most difficult things on the planet. I haven’t had to meet new people since middle school, and now I’m thrust into this environment where I only vaguely know a handful of people. I met some girls my first week here, but we rarely talk anymore. I thought all the drama would be left in high school, but it still creeps into college friendships. Little actions or arguments get blown out of proportion, and before you know it you’re all alone again. Now it’s the point in the year when nobody’s scrambling because they have established groups, and I’m just trying to get through the day. I would lock myself in the dorm, drowning in school work that wasn’t due for the next few weeks. I somehow convinced myself that this was better: without friends, I’d be able to devote myself to my academics and be successful. That’s great and all, but not a healthy way to live.
High school friendships are even worse. The people I talked to every day are now the ones I haven’t heard from in months. The only way I find out any news about them is through social media. Sometimes one of us will reach out and call or text, but the other is usually in class and forgets about the attempt altogether. We try to get together over breaks, but one of us has a midterm and the other won’t be coming home at all, so you’re just left to watching Netflix on the couch instead of in your bed. I thought that we would beat the distance, but I guess we were wrong.
The hardest thing of all is trying to pretend that everything’s okay. I could go the entire day without talking to anyone for any social reason, but that’s normal now. Every time I talk to my mom on the phone I try to make up some instance this week that I got coffee with someone or went out to eat. When my people started to figure it out, I just pretended school was keeping me busy. Once I get past my test I’ll go out. I’ll go meet people once I finish my paper. Eventually, I started to believe myself.This isn’t a tragedy, though.
Wallowing in self-pity can only occupy me for so long, and I’m pretty tired of it. The key to meeting people in college could be as simple as getting out of the room.
Joining clubs or organizations forces you to meet new people and work with them. Luckily, Winthrop has tons of close-knit organizations to get involved in. Talk to people in your classes or building because you’re probably going to be with them for the majority of the semester. Finding friends is hard, I get it, but it isn’t impossible. All it takes is the confidence to branch out and initiate the conversation.