Going to college, I had high expectations about what would happen friends-wise. My dad said that it would be the easiest time in my entire life to make friends, so I figured, I'd meet a diverse group of people and find life-long friends almost immediately. But that didn't really happen, at least not yet, and it left me defeated, sad and lonely.
When I first moved into the Honors College, I didn't have classes immediately. I could move in, settle down, and explore the campus at my own free will. It also meant that I had set eating times with the people on my floor. The RA and mentor-in-residence would organize times that we would all meet up and go down to the dining hall together and eat. They also had lots of events that kept us busy for most of the day and left us with little downtime towards the end of the day. It was nice because there was a sense of community and it felt like a schedule as being established and I got to socialize with everyone.
As soon as classes started, that all went away. I guess I forgot that classes existed and once they began, people never had the same break times as I did. The friends that I made so far all of a sudden became busy and were on different campuses when they were free.
Meal times soon became just me eating in my dorm alone or in the dining hall at a table by myself, surrounded by strangers who seemed to be friends with everybody. This was a dramatic turn from who I was in high school, where I always had a group to sit with at lunch and I always saw people that I knew and could hang out with. This just made me miss high school and my hometown friends even more. The homesickness that I had already begun to feel became exacerbated.
Soon enough, the people in my dorm were already forming solid friend groups. Every time I walked past a lounge, there would be a group of people chatting and laughing. I could also hear people laughing from the different rooms around me.
At first, I thought it was just me who felt this way. I thought that I was an outlier who just didn't know how to socialize and make friends in college. But that wasn't the case.
After talking to some friends from my high school, I found out that they were also experiencing the same thing. They felt lonely and found it hard to make friends because it seemed like everyone already knew people coming into college. And it wasn't just at Rutgers, friends who went to other colleges were going through it too.
Whenever you ask someone about college, they usually tell you that it was the best four years of their life or they warn you about the "freshman 15," but no one ever tells you about the "freshman blues." No one ever talks about how the first few weeks of college were the hardest because you're adjusting to your new lifestyle and the life that you've grown accustomed to has all of a sudden been dissipated. No one ever tells you that those feelings of sadness and loneliness that you have are normal and there are likely other people around you who are feeling the exact same way. At orientation or the first few days of moving in, your RA's don't warn you about the dramatic transition that happens in a day that can make your emotions and thoughts go haywire.
I know that the freshman blues exist because I went through them and I know people who went through them, but I also know that I overcame them and I know people who also overcame them or are in the process of overcoming them.
The solution to overcoming them was a long process, but I eventually climbed out of the hole that I was in, covered it up with soil, and walked across it safely. I filled that hole with communities that I found safety in, two of the bigger ones being CHAARG, a workout group where I got to meet upperclassmen and lowerclassmen and hang out with them once a week, and ultimate Frisbee, a sport that I've been playing for three years and I now play with some of my closest college friends. I also filled the hole with frequent phone calls and FaceTimes with my high school friends so it felt like we were still together in a sense. The people in my classes also helped. Eventually, I did make friends in every class and it makes my day brighter when I get to see them and talk. I also made more friends in my dorm and while I may not see them as much as I would like, it's always good when I do.
Going through the freshman blues was hard, really hard, but I got through it. It might take some time, but eventually, those who are experiencing it overcome it and it might take a little bit more than what I had to do, but that's OK.