College is a time of significant growth, discovery and change. Many incoming students feel some degree of anxiety at this major milestone in adulthood and the real world for a number of reasons: being swamped in a large campus with thousands of strangers, increased competition with numerous other intelligent and diligent students, the intensified pressure to do well for graduate school or a prestigious job, homesickness... the list goes on infinitely. However, one issue that doesn't usually receive as much attention as the others is being left behind when all of your friends leave home for their undergraduate education. It's a pretty daunting change to adapt to, especially because it's harder to forge close bonds in such a colossal and chaotic place like college, where you don't spend a lot of time with the same people like you did in high school. But fear not – there are a variety of ways to effectively cope with your newfound loneliness and even move past it. Here are some of the easiest and best ones.
1. Focus on and take care of yourself.
Whenever we embark on a novel intimate relationship, whether it be romantic or platonic, we often cast aside our own needs and feelings to satisfy those of our new counterpart. However, an excess of this accommodating behavior is unhealthy because then you ultimately neglect to nourish yourself. Thus, there is no better time to replenish yourself than during the time your friends are away at college.
Focus on your academics and studying to maintain solid grades throughout the new few years; after all, it'll improve your prospects of being admitted into graduate school or scoring a great job fresh out of school. If you have the extra time, take up a part-time job to earn some money for tuition, your dream vacation or a new car. In addition to getting paid, you'll develop various skills essential for your future career and beyond, such as critical and quick thinking, responsibility, effective communication and so forth. You should also immerse yourself in enjoyable activities and hobbies, whether they be ones you used to devote yourself to when you had more free time or completely new ones. This way, you'll find a productive outlet for stress and even creativity.
2. Write about or talk to someone about your thoughts and feelings.
Time and time again, it has been proven that one of the best ways to minimize internal stress and anxiety is to release them in a productive fashion. Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal is a private yet effective method in relieving yourself from at least some stress, while talking to someone you trust about your struggles, whether it be in person, over the phone, through email or via direct messaging services on social media, is more open and engaging. Whichever strategy you choose to utilize when coming to terms with your newfound loneliness, you're almost guaranteed to feel at least a little bit better about your situation.
3. Join clubs and organizations in college to make new friends with similar interests as you, and get to know some of your classmates.
In high school, many of us joined extracurricular activities and clubs for three primary reasons: to partake in hobbies that interested and entertained us, to interact with others who shared similar passions and to bolster our college applications and resumes. However, in our post-secondary institutions, the second purpose for entering a school organization dominates, especially when you're entering college without knowing anyone. Joining a club at school is one of the easiest ways to make new friends because you and the other members are very likely to have numerous homogenous interests to bond over.
Introducing yourself and speaking to some of your fellow classmates are also great ways to make friends. Creating study groups and group chats in which everyone is free to ask for the millionth time what pages to read and gripe about the annoying online homework not only help you and your colleagues survive your classes; they also pave the way for open communication and subsequent bonding.
4. Once in a while, remember and relive the special memories you made with your friends.
Whenever you're feeling a little bit blue about the absence of your friends, just scroll through your camera roll, social media posts, photo albums, messages and handwritten letters to relive all of the precious and unforgettable memories you all made together, and to remind yourself that more will be made when everyone returns home.
5. Keep in touch!
Of course, the best was saved for last. What better way is there to quell feelings of melancholy about your friends moving away for college than talking to them directly, whether it be via Skype, over the phone, text, email, Snapchat or even snail mail? Out of all of these options, Skype is the best one because it allows you to interact face-to-face with your friends at any time and any place as if you were talking to them in person. It also confirms that yes, they are still alive even after the stresses of moving in, adjusting to a strange city, making new friends, constant studying and careful budgeting.
Although it may seem impossible to start new relationships that will be as good as the ones you were in with your old friends, don't lose hope and give up. Excuse the upcoming cliché, but the most infallible way to create lasting bonds to rival or even surpass those you shared with your previous comrades is to simply be yourself. Everything else will fall into place from there.
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