College is an exciting and daunting time for young adults. For many, college allows them to explore independence and understand themselves before they venture into the adult world. During this time, you’ll be exposed to many new things and quickly learn that not everyone was raised like you were. This can be a good thing because not only does it prepare you for the diversity in the world, but it also teaches you new perspectives and provides you with unexpected opportunities. That being said, one of these opportunities is being social with new people. For many first time or transfer college students, it can be difficult to put yourself out there and find friends you mesh well with. This is actually so common, but people are good at pretending like they've got it all figured out so you may feel like you’re the only one dealing with these issues. Everyone’s level of being social is different, but overall it’s important to not do college as if you're alone on an island. It's important to be proactive in college so you create memories and build connections with others.
Dealing with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
FOMO is inevitable, but the reality of college is accepting that you can’t be involved with everything. Don’t let this discourage you though! Try your best to be present and accept invites that interest you instead of constantly declining offers. For example, colleges have events for students (especially new students) to acquaint students with each other and the school overall. This is a great way to find organizations to join! And sometimes you’ll discover unique programs that fit your niches.
Or if someone invites you out and you feel comfortable going with them, you should go to see how things turn out. As you’re exploring, it’s important to be involved with people and things that truly inspire you and make you feel most like yourself. Not only does being present help you form social bonds, but you never know the professional opportunities that could arise when you associate yourself with new people and places.
I guarantee you that there’ll be people you begin college with that you may never talk to again by the time senior year rolls around. That being said, in life friendships are always changing. Some people are meant to be lifelong friends while others are there for a moment. As you get older, you may find your circle shrinking because there are less people you feel genuinely connected with. And that’s 100% okay!
With each friendship, there will be a lesson, some positive and some negative. Some friendships teach you the type of people you don’t want to be around. Some may only be in your life briefly, but they leave a worthwhile impression.
It’s okay to not have a designated friend group or best friend (my closest friends happen to be miles away from me--one on the other side of the world!). It’s more fulfilling to have a few people you can call a friend than to have several “friends” that are like strangers.
In my opinion, a community can be found anywhere you choose to find it! Your sense of community doesn’t have to be limited to your campus. Instead of putting yourself in a box, try finding communities based on hobbies, niches, volunteer work, religion/philosophy, sports/fitness, and the list goes on! When you associate yourself with diverse people, you not only gain new knowledge but confidence in your social abilities.
I’ve found some cool people and close friends online through language learning when COVID began. I even met one of my closest friends! I have to say that stepping out of my comfort zone was the best decision for me.
So what is your level of being social? Are you the type that thrives in large groups or one that prefers one on one conversations? Do you make online friends as well? Are you considering trying something mentioned in this paper? When you open yourself to new opportunities, you’ll see that college has so much to offer when it comes to making friends and connections. It’s up to you to be proactive!
WRITTEN BY Ozioma Osanu
My name’s Ozioma, which means “Good News” so if you meet me, expect a welcoming experience! Despite mainly being a homebody, you’ll find me always doing something creative. Whether it’s art, language learning, or roller skating, I love challenging myself creatively. Along with those, I love meeting new people and traveling as well. I’m currently studying business information systems and plan to go into UX design in the future!