I spent no time thinking about how to make friends when I began high school and I assumed that I would have a similarly easygoing social experience in college. That I would arrive and meet my future best friends within the first week so that we could get right to memory making. After all, I’m a natural extrovert. I make friends even in situations where people caution against it. So by the end of the first day of classes I was incredibly dismayed to not have a potential friend group. On the second day, when still no gal pals fell into my lap, I almost had a meltdown. And that same starting week, when I didn’t find the study buddies I had envisioned for myself, I was convinced that I was doing college wrong.
Not having a concrete support system in college incited panic; I was convinced that my next four years would be lonely and that I had reached the pinnacle of my social experience in the high school. It felt like my worst nightmare coming true – had I peaked in high school?
The answer, of course, is no.
“You have to look at it in retrospect,” Juliana Dreyfuss, a freshman at the University of Richmond, said. “We’re just being impatient. Close relationships at home and in high school took time to build.”
In an age of instant gratification, it’s easy to forget that forging friendships is a genuine process that doesn’t begin or end when you follow a classmate on Instagram. Not feeling instant camaraderie with anyone just means that my relationships aren’t superficial enough to be established in one day, or even one week. As time goes on and I reach out to people more, I find that this bothers me less and less.
Adjustments come with leaving any comfort zone, high school included. Another important part of this learning process for me, and an adjustment that I had to make in approach, was to stop complaining and start doing. I started inserting myself in positive spaces, starting asking around about clubs that I was interested in joining, started seeking like-minded people and stimulating activity instead of assuming that it would come my way.
I learned, slowly, that the only wrong way to “do college” was to do nothing. So now I’ve taken it upon myself to do all that I can do, and to do it whole-heartedly. No matter how lonely or discouraging I start to feel in the present, I know that the next four years hold people that I have yet to meet and places that I have yet to explore. And they will be four years of fulfillment so long as I make them that way.
Lead Image Credit: Alex Holyoake via Unsplash