In the peak of the pandemic, I was committing to college and deciding my future, but the hardest part was that I had to leave my friends from home behind. As one of the few students from my hometown going to my college, I began to wonder how I will make friends at school. I had grown up around the same group of kids from first grade to twelfth, and I had to now use this skill that seemed to have shrunk during quarantine. The new friendships that you make in college are one of the difficult transitions. After putting years into friendships, you find yourself starting from scratch. As a bit of an overthinker, I found myself googling, “How do I make friends in college?”
First and foremost, I think it is incredibly important to recognize that all friendships have different lifetimes and purposes. Moving onto college, I noticed that it was hard to keep in touch with everyone from home, and it is ok. We all get busy sometimes, and fallouts with friends are normal. I also met several people in the first couple weeks of school, but I found myself losing that connection over time. Knowing that not everyone is going to be a permanent figure or long-term friend in your life reshapes how you view friendships and how you feel about yourself. The ups and downs of different friendships can change how you feel about yourself.
From the fluctuating social life and overall increase in alone time, one of your first college friends must be you. In balancing a busy schedule, you will realize how you now have so much more time with yourself. The loneliness can affect everyone a little differently. I personally enjoy a little downtime after I have exhausted my social battery, but the downtime affects everyone individually. I think college is a great time to get to know yourself as well as others. If that means a solo gym day or coffee trip, taking that time for yourself is a great thing!
By getting to know yourself better, you start to explore some of your interests, which is a great way to meet people. Meeting people can be difficult, but I think it is crucial that we start to take the pressure off the friendship that must be made when you meet someone. By reducing the pressure, friendships are allowed to have a gray area and do not need to be defined. Perhaps you have friends for different reasons, the key change is that you do not have the key group like in high school and might float between different groups.
Knowing the different dynamics of college friends, I think it is a good idea to think of how to actually make friends in college. First, I think it helps to have a routine. It just means that you will see the same sets of people again and again, and it will start to create a community atmosphere. In doing so, maybe you will be bold and introduce yourself or someone will introduce themselves to you. Second, introduce to yourself to people in smaller settings. Just by saying hi to someone in the elevator, you already know more people and feel more comfortable. Making friends means opening up a little bit more, and it can be difficult for everyone.
In the end, everyone else is going through a similar situation, and there is no harm in introducing yourself. Making friends in college, it can be difficult. You will miss your friends from home, and it will not be the same level of emotional support at the beginning. However, you can always start by being your own friend. Be there for yourself throughout this journey and remember that this is a time for you to also figure out who you are.
Before we end this discussion on making friends in college, I am going to go over how you maintain the friends from home when you go to college. Whether you go to college close to home or in a different state or country, you might enter some form of a long-distance friendship. That can present many challenges, especially at the beginning of the school year. The biggest things that you can do is just doing your best. Texting and facetiming are great things. Some of those friendships will fade over time, but it does not dictate anything about who you are. We all get busy and wrapped up in school and our college social lives. In the end, just like college will be a big transition, your friendships will experience different transitions throughout life.
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