As I finished my first year of college, I noticed many of my classmates talk about how freshman year had brought them so many friends. While I did have the opportunity to meet some amazing people during my first two semesters, I did not leave campus feeling the same way. Though I tried to make connections with others and did make a few friends, most of the time my social life at school left something to be desired.
I don't say this without shame. I wondered many times throughout the year if something was wrong with me, or if I just wasn't a likable person. Why was something that seemed so easy for others so difficult for me? I felt like the only one struggling, and I felt frustrated and alone.
However, what I came to realize was that I felt that way because all I was exposed to were people who were succeeding socially. You don't get to see the people who spend the weekends in their dorm room alone.
In my mind, I needed to be with friends at all times. If I didn't have anybody to eat dinner with or study with or roam around campus with right at that moment, that meant I didn't have enough people in my life. I felt self-conscious about hanging out with the same people all the time, and I felt self-conscious about going anywhere alone. Of course, it's normal and healthy to want to make friends, but I was so focused on the number I didn't take the time to appreciate the people who were already in my life.
I may not have made dozens of friends in my first year of college, but I made close friends. And the friends I did make came into my life not because I was desperately searching for them, but because we naturally connected and enjoyed each other's company. Social media often encourages us to think that the key to happiness is to have the most friends, the most followers, the most likes on an Instagram post. I thought that because I did not have as many friends as other people, that meant I wasn't somebody that people wanted to be friends with,
But I learned this year that the number of people who love you does not determine how worthy you are of love. It's okay to not be outgoing. It's okay to be shy. It's okay to struggle socially. I'm a person who is slow to warm up to new people. I'm sure that as I spend more time at school and get to know those around me better, I will make more friends. For now, however, I am going to try to focus on the love I have for the people already in my life, and remember that my value is not determined by others.