10 Ways NOT To Make Friends As A College Freshman

10 Ways NOT To Make Friends As A College Freshman

I get it, it's hard. But that's part of the challenge.

Making friends in college is a lot like catching Pokémon: some freshmen choose friends based on how they look, others by what talents and powers they possess. Most of us would like to believe that we make friends based on how they compliment our own personal weaknesses. And in a world with so many good people all around us, who wouldn't want to meet 'em all?

Regardless of the reasons why we choose to make friends, the way in which we go about it is its own subtle art form. It's one which I, certainly, have yet to perfect. But judging by the outcome of my first week at college (I moved in early thanks to Freshman Connection - shout out to everyone involved in that amazing program), I would say that I've done alright so far. I've met a lot of great people who I can see being friends with for a long time, and I'm meeting more every day.

How? you may ask. Tara, you're not that nice, and you're also not that personable. Believe me, it shocked me too. It's simple really. I just avoided these 10 pitfalls that people often encounter when meeting others for the first time. These are the top 10 ways NOT to make friends as a freshman in college-- from my own personal experience.

1. Hang out in your dorm all day with the door closed.

This should be an obvious no-no, but people still end up doing it. They don't know what to do, so they do... nothing. You may be feeling alone, or not know who to hang out with at an event that your college is hosting. But if you don't go at all, you'll never meet anybody. "Out" is where the rest of the people are. Holing up and watching Netflix for hours on end is one of those things that feels good in the moment, but will ultimately just isolate you and make you feel worse about things. Just go to the activities.

2. Expect people to talk to you / make plans to hang out first.

A lot of people that I know from high school seem to be having problems making friends in college because they don't want to initiate any sort of relationship with anyone. Honestly, a smile or even just eye contact can let others know that you are open and willing to talk. And look, someone's gotta make the first move. If someone seems cool or nice, or even if they're just in your close proximity, it's okay to shoot them a "Hey, my name is _________." That's how you get to know people.

3. Latch onto someone else.

Whether it be your new roommate or a friend from home, it's not good to just leech socialization off of the closest immediate individual. If your style of friend-making involves being friends with one person, then being pity-included when that person makes new and other friends, you will get left behind-- and fast. It's okay to have the same friends as your roommate or high school friend, but they should genuinely be your own friends as well. Not just friends-by-proxy.

4. Act as though you're better than other people in the college / be standoffish.

If you see people going to a frat party and you personally don't want to go, don't judge them. If you see people staying in and playing cards, that's fine too. You're not better than anyone else. We're all in college. We're all adults. If the immediate vibe that you're sending off is one of sanctimonious arrogance, then people will immediately think-- and rightfully so-- that you are an ass. Don't have a superiority complex. This isn't high school anymore; we're all starting college on a level playing field.

5. Close yourself off from different people and experiences.

This goes along with the above point. Just because you like X, and someone else enjoys Y, it doesn't mean that you can't be friends. Yes, common interests and shared experiences make it easier to immediately connect with someone, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be compatible as people. Some of my lifelong best friends are completely different from myself in terms of our tastes, interests, cultures, and hobbies. Making a real connection with someone extends further than surface-level traits.

6. Think that you don't need to make any new friends.

Even if you made a lot of friends during orientation, or met your 8 new bffs during move-in weekend, you should still be open to meeting new people. One, you can never have too many positive relationships with people. Two, as depressing as this sounds, these 4-day friendships are probably not as strong as they currently feel. So, if they end up disintegrating, it's good to have some backup. And three, someone else who you don't already know may end up being your friendship soulmate, but you'll never know unless you give other people a chance.

7. Be rude.

Somehow, this requires explicit mention. If you're rude and a jerk, people will not like you. If that is the first impression that you make, then they will probably never like you. If you do this often enough, people will hate you, and you will have no friends. The end.

8. Refuse to open up to others.

I know this one may be hard for a lot of people. Dropping your guard around people you don't know is really difficult, especially when you may not want to open up. But presenting myself as open and honest is probably what has been most crucial to making and maintaining my current friendships. Nobody wants to be friends with someone who never speaks their mind, or who isn't being genuine. No matter how awful you may think your true self is, I can promise you that there is someone out there who loves it.

9. Talk only about yourself... all the time.

Take this point with a grain of salt. I love talking about myself, and I love hearing other people talk about themselves... at appropriate times. This will sound cliche, but active listening? It's actually pretty effective. If someone says something about themselves, it is more than fine to follow up with something related about yourself. But discussing/comparative ideas, formative events, or unusual anecdotes is way more interesting than just recounting some average experience, or talking about something that nobody can logically follow up. It really is a matter of how you spin it. There is just a difference between a discussion involving two people, and one person talking at another. One leads to genuine connection, while the other leaves someone never wanting to talk to you again.

10. Think you're above small talk.

Who do you think you are, Stephen Hawking? Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the world who actually enjoys small talk. I like getting to know people. How people engage in small talk is, I think, one of the most telling things about someone. It shows who they are when they're at their most basic - how they speak, how friendly they are, the level of interest they display, what you can expect from them when you speak again. If someone sucks at small talk, they'll probably suck at more involved conversations, too. And honestly? If someone is going to be a good match as a friend for me, I don't need them to be interesting only when they talk about politics. If they can be fun and interesting while talking about the weather, then they can be fun at any time, too.

Cover Image Credit: Bing

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I Drifted But Now I'm Reaching Out

I'm not going to isolate myself anymore.

I’ve noticed that since I started college, I dropped a lot of habits. Some were habits that I really needed to get rid of, such as picking at my nails and snacking way too much. Other habits, though, I really shouldn’t have dropped. Maybe I just got too busy or lazy, or maybe it was just something for the high school me. Yeah, I’ve changed a lot in college but I’m going to try and get back into the good habits I had.

College gave me a lot of time. Suddenly I had all this free time and I realized that it was entirely up to me what I wanted to do with it. The freedom is really great, I won’t deny that, but what I noticed was that I found myself alone a lot.

Maybe it was my intention that some days I just wanted some alone time, but more often than not I found myself realizing that I hadn’t seen or talked to friends in a while. I realized I wasn’t hanging out with people anymore. I was alone.

Now, I know the importance of myself reaching out. Before I always worried that there was a reason I wasn’t seeing or talking to people as often, I mean, there was school so maybe everyone was just busy.

But I feared that I was missing out on so much was because I was unwanted in those moments. After gaining confidence, I've decided won’t isolate myself anymore. I’m an outgoing person, but I won’t be selectively outgoing anymore.

In high school, I could barely go two classrooms down without seeing someone and stopping to talk to them, and I want college to be the same way. It’s really impossible to know everyone at your college but reaching out isn’t that hard for me to do, I’ve just been lazy. I haven’t put in as much effort as I should be putting in and I know that if I want to keep some of the amazing friendships that I currently have, I need to not be distant.

It’s easy to drift away when emotions and events start piling up. Sometimes, the only thing I want to do is just lay in bed and not think about my to-do lists and schedules and problems that I have.

Once I start doing that though, I get sucked in and it becomes so hard to get the energy to get up and move. I don’t want that to be the case anymore. I don’t want to hide away with the “what ifs” and speculation as to why I didn’t go or get invited. From now on, I’m just going to go, and then see what happens.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To My Best Friends, Thank You

I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

I have gone through many friends in the past few years, some that lasted a while some that only lasted a few months, but you know exactly when you found your perfect person, soulmate, best friend, the one that will never get away. It’s the friends that stick with you through the toughest times and stay.

The ones you call at 3:00 a.m. because you got into a fight with your boyfriend and can’t sleep and they stay on the phone until your ready to sleep. The ones that you can count on to pick you up because you need a ride no matter where you are.

Dear Best Friends,

I just wanted to thank you for being you and for letting me be me. Thank you for letting me feel so much like myself when I’m with you. Thank you for sharing in my happiest moments, and for listening to my saddest stories and giving compassion and empathy from wherever you are. Thank you for being the only person I ever want to confide in. Thank you for being the most beautiful person, inside and out.

Thank you for making the world a better place, just by being in it. Thank you for defining selfless, always putting others before yourself, you are going to change the world just as much as you have changed mine. Thank you for all the memories we made at Disney this year on our senior trip. Thank you for practically being my second Mom.

Thank you for setting the bar so high and making it impossible to find another friend as good as you. Thank you for making these past years we have been friends feel like forever and for giving me enough memories to last a lifetime, but not ending there.

Thank you for making me hurt when I miss you, but for taking the hurt away when I see you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the absolute privilege of being able to call you my best friend, thank you for being my person. Thank you for giving me these reasons, and a million more, to be thankful for.

I sometimes find myself looking back on my life and realizing how huge of a part you have played in keeping me steady when the rest of my world has been falling apart. How you have known what to say and do in the moments when I have felt all control slipping through my fingers.

Even if it’s just dropping everything and taking me for coffee, shopping and listening to me try to untangle the mess I call my life. Thank you for those days when the rest of the world is against me, for making me feel less alone. For believing every silly dream which enters my head and being excited for me about things which no one else understands. Thank you for always validating my emotions, for taking my side, for telling me when I’m wrong, for being honest.

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