One of the things I was most looking forward to about college was the chance to start over socially. I’m at a small college far away from home, and so I didn’t know a single person going in, except my roommate, and we had only met in person once. I had heard that the social situation in college is much different than high school, and it definitely was, especially for the first few weeks.
My biggest advice for the beginning of college is to go to as many activities and events as possible. At the beginning, there will likely be a lot of things going on to help freshmen get settled in, so take advantage of that. Even though I’m the type of person who tends to want to stay at home, I pushed myself to go to those kinds of things right away. I found that if I put myself out there and did things, it was very easy to meet people. With everyone trying to find friends, there’s an environment of openness and inclusion that is very cool.
Something else I didn’t expect is how close you can become with people after a very short period of time. My roommate and I felt like best friends after only a few days. And in five weeks I’ve already had some incredibly deep and vulnerable conversations with people. Late nights, especially, are breeding grounds for good conversation with random people in the lobby of your dorm.
And it’s true that there will be some people who you click with more than others. Find those people who you really enjoy talking to and being around, and then spend as much time with them as possible right away, before your classes get really busy. If you can establish a few promising friendships immediately, they will maintain themselves as schedules get crazy, and you will have those people to fall back on if things go wrong or you need support. Then you can expand your social life from there as the semester goes on.
And it is important to continue expanding your friend group! I found those few close friends right away, and a group of us formed who have been spending a lot of time together. It’s easy for me to stick with the same people; it’s comfortable and validating to have a “group”. But I’m working to make sure I don’t get too set in my clique. I want to meet a wide variety of people, and I want our group to be welcoming of others. So I’m starting to make an effort to sit with different people at meals and talk with people I don’t know as well, while still balancing time with the friendships I’ve already developed.
As we settle into the semester, the biggest struggle for me is how much I want to feel included and liked. I have to constantly remind myself that it isn’t my goal to be liked by others, but to bless others. I shouldn’t be trying to make sure I feel welcomed and included, but trying to make others feel welcomed and included, showing everyone love as fellow image-bearers of God.
Ultimately, friendships are a beautiful gift from God. Creating new relationships takes patience and trust, but if I walk in faith, seeking to follow His design for how I interact with fellow humans, those relationships will develop with time. I’ve been so blessed already and I can’t wait to continue to grow in my relationships with all of the new people in my life.
How have you made friends in a new situation?