We all grew up hearing stories of miraculous college friendships. All the drama – the judgement, gossip, bullying – of high school lifts up and you are met with a million new, lifelong friends who understand you better than you do. You can’t wait.
Then you actually get to campus and you’re not sure if you’re in the right place. No one told you making friends was going to be this awkward. The truth is, college isn’t a piece of cake and making friends during college won’t be either. Here’s a few other likely truths.
1. You won’t stay friends with most people you meet at orientation.
Yes, those ice breakers were super fun and you actually remember people’s names. Yes, that girl who said “hi” to you during lunch likes the same band as you. Yes, you met some great people. But the thing is, you probably won’t see the people you met again, especially if you go to a large college. So don’t worry too much if you don’t hit it off automatically with someone during those first few welcome days, chances are you won’t meet your new best friend until much later.
2. Friendship won’t come instantly.
If you left behind all of your besties from high school, you’ll probably be looking to fill the space they used to occupy. Though you may hit it off with someone, there is a higher chance that you won’t. Trust and inside jokes take time to build. Don’t except the new friend you met to automatically level up to the same caliber as the BFF you grew up with. You are going to have those moments where you miss your old friends and that’s OKAY.
3. Introductions will be painfully awkward.
Get ready to tell everyone you meet your name, major and hometown. If you thought ice breakers were repetitive, wait till you try plain old introductions. You may find it hard to have a genuine conversation with people since small talk seems to be the only option until you get to know them better. Take the awkwardness with a grain of salt – it won’t always be like this.
4. Fakeness will be real.
If everyone seems oddly nice for some reason, it’s because they aren't normally like that. The first few weeks of college everyone is looking for friends and many of them will tweak their personalities slightly to improve their “friendship worthiness.” You might even find yourself participating in the game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it’s natural for us to act differently around strangers. Just don’t be surprised when your new friend changes personalities after you become close with them.
5. You have to make an effort.
While you can certainly be stoic and wait for someone to approach you, you can improve your chances of beginning a new relationship by smiling and being the one to strike up conversation. Take a risk. Friendships won’t be delivered unless your arms are already open.
6. Keeping in contact is hard work.
Okay, you got the first step down. You made a friend. Now what? What comes next is the hard part. In order to further the new relationship, you have to water it. You have to make time for the person you met and you have to keep in contact with them. Get their phone number, follow them on social media, invite them out to eat, or ask them to a study session. It is easier when they share a class with you or live in the same building as you; if they don’t, then you’re going to have to put in extra work to deepen the friendship.
7. Acquaintances are not the same as friends.
This is a hard truth for everyone to accept. We’d like to think everyone we invest time in meeting is a friend, but half of them won’t be. You probably won’t be close with everyone you talk to and you will probably end up forgetting most of their names and faces. Some people might become your study buddies but not your party darlings, others might join you occasionally for lunch but never talk to you otherwise. Understanding the difference between knowing people and being friends with people is important.
8. It is okay to be a loner.
Please don’t feel obligated to surround yourself with a bunch of new friends as soon as you move in. Take time to brew in the transition. If meeting new people isn’t your forte, don’t beat yourself up. The one thing that is true about college is that people aren’t judging you. It’s not a popularity contest. Seek out people you want to sustain friendships with, but don’t feel forced to be close with everyone.
Love yourself, enjoy your new college life and don’t let your happiness be determined by the number of friends you pick up on move-in day.
Lead Image Credit: Paul Proshin via Unsplash