Last fall I moved from Texas to Colorado to expand my horizons and be more independent for myself. I practically lived in Texas my whole life and for the longest time, my parents discouraged from going out of state for school; because for obvious reasons. After some time and consideration, they finally agreed to let me come to CSU.
It's my second year at Colorado State University and I joined various groups on campus, such as the marching band, photography club, and a service fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega). Don't get me wrong, I love these groups dearly but what's the deal? Why can't I make friends?!? This was my experience of attempting to fit in last school year.
I moved in early for band camp
Every band kid knows that we give up the last portion of summer to learn drill for pregame and halftime shows along with music and marching fundamentals. Aside from that, you also get to make friends in your new band family. I was very excited to get close to the other freshman girls in the flute section and have new friends before starting school. Well, I was wrong. It took me about a few days to get a vibe from them but it seemed that they only care about their high school image still. It wasn't all of them but it already made me feel horrible about myself. (Basically stating that "I'm better than you" ) Most of them had previous leadership experience in their high school band programs. While I couldn't even get one myself because my director played the game of favorites; that made me feel I couldn't bring anything to the table. The few individuals who didn't have that mindset are actually great people and I tried really hard to find to get close to them but it didn't work. Is it my personality or what?
Ram welcome activities
At CSU, we have ram welcome, which is like part 2 of orientation but a couple days before classes start. The welcome leaders came walking down every resident hall hallways, playing loud music, banging pans, and knocking on the doors. This started off the day. The band kids were given the morning off to participate in these activities to make new friends in the hallway and inside your college of major. I went to these activities with my roommate. I'll admit, I was kinda nervous about meeting new people since it was easier to do that in high school band than now. I spent the morning meeting people in my hall and learning more about my college; College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVBMS) but nothing clicked with me with the people I met. Then I thought, this is going to be harder than I thought. Also to put into perspective, I'm an introvert. That didn't make anything better.
CSU Class of 2021
During the year
Throughout marching season, I felt this internal pressure of always being judged for not being sociable enough or keeping up with the pace. (Try learning new music and drill every week, of course, that stressed me out) Well, first of all, don't judge people for not fitting in and making assumptions that I'm stupid. Everyone learns differently and in my case, verbal instructions, for the most part, doesn't make sense to me. I learn by doing and seeing examples of things. That was a challenge for me and on top of that, having those negative people in my section bashing on me for not getting things right the first time, set me over the top. All it took to fix this problem, was to voice my concern. I told my section leaders because they don't see everything that goes on and we see more than they do. I was quite surprised to find out from them that no one had the guts to stand up for themselves. As in every university group, hazing is against the policy because of liability issues and it wants to make people quit doing what they enjoy. I almost quit during the middle of the season because I didn't feel that I belong here. Lucky, we had an intervention after a rehearsal one day. We sat in a circle and voiced our opinions about our concern for others but we're not allowed to call out each other. I expressed myself about not finding my place here in this band but more or less, this university. It made me feel a little more welcomed when the other girls shared their experiences. Did it really have to take this long to finally be nice to each other? Apparently so.
Joining other organizations
All of the girls in my hall pledge to Kappa Delta, Zeta Tau Alpha or other well known greek organizations, including my roommate. I wasn't a social butterfly as it is and didn't consider doing it at all. So I joined the photography club instead but realizing I couldn't find friends there as well. It doesn't help the fact that we only have meetings like every few months or so. I'm still part of it but things need to change before they start losing people.
I started going to the student rec center more often this spring by attending multiple group fitness classes. It took me the first semester to finally force myself to go to the gym to make friends, but no, I couldn't even do that either. I thought that was a great way to meet people there while working out. Wrong again. Everyone is in their own little huddle, chatting away and avoiding making eye contact with people other than the fitness instructor and their friends. And then there's me, hiding in the back of the room, feeling insecure and acting awkward.
I wasn't intended to join any other groups on campus this past spring semester because I kinda felt hopeless, but one day, someone posted a rush flyer for Alpha Phi Omega on our class page. It sounded interesting to me. I thought this could be it. I was one of the few freshman pledges but that's pretty normal; since not many of us would commit to an organization during their first year in college. I really like helping the community but it was really hard to do that by yourself and being an introvert. So APO was perfect to get me out of my comfort zone. Most of the people that are in APO are close friends or roommates before joining, which meaning to me is that there's isn't much room for new faces. Again, that falls into not making friends that way. I don't know why it's this frecking hard to make close friends but I still commit because I love giving back to the community.
APO Foresty Day 2018
To sum things up as of now
As I continue through my second year of college, I still have not fully grasp of "it takes time" as said by mom. I still feel out of place but not as much as before. All the troubled girls in my section last fall either quit or took time to grow up. Things are much calmer this season but they still need to work on including me in their hangouts. I will continue to find my place on campus and finally be much happier.
If you ever feel this way, seek advice from upperclassmen, professors, or even your health center medical staff. Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves.