As many freshmen are adjusting to the college scene, I can't help but overhear every time they complain that they don't have friends. In fact, my freshman self expressed that concern over and over again. And so did my sophomore self over the duration of the year. And here I am, a junior in college.
Things have certainly changed since I was a freshman. I've become more of an advocate for myself, I take responsibility for my success, I hold myself accountable for my mistakes, I have my own apartment, I've shifted my focus towards internships and career prospects. But for whatever reason, the feeling of having lost my way, the rarer but periodic homesickness, have stayed the same.
Sometimes, the biggest stressor of college isn't the classes. It's the timeline people give us to find our way and our people.
Some people would tell me I'd meet my best friends of college second semester. Other people told me it usually happens at the beginning of sophomore year. Some even emphasized that the second semester of sophomore year is key. But these timelines caused me to place all these unrealistic expectations on every semester. I thought the second semester of freshman year would be the best semester ever and it seemed like such a letdown when everything wasn't perfect. I subsequently would tell myself that sophomore year would be MY year but there were twists and turns of events that left me disappointed.
I deal with many problems that seem to be "freshman problems" well through the end of my sophomore year. The buddy system has been hard for me at parties sometimes if I can't find a buddy to join me. I've been caught up in trying to compromise who I am because sometimes it seems like that is the only way I'll feel "accepted." Social events are, in general, tough. I've had to overcome my own FOMO and accept that based on where I stand in terms of friends, I will have to miss out sometimes.
But what did mature in this time period is this: you really can't expect anything in college, or in life in general.
Putting a bunch of expectations on what you'll experience based on what you *think* happens (or what people tell you happens) will likely leave you disappointed. I left for college thinking everyone I said "hi" to in the first weeks would become my best friend until I realized that many people don't even say "hi" back. I thought everyone I'd meet would be so grown and mature with all of the petty drama left behind in high school only to see that many people in college are still very petty. Through my own personal maturing, it's been up to me to not let these types of people sour my experience; they don't deserve that type of power.
Because, truthfully, everyone grows and matures differently and no two people have the exact same experience. So please don't panic if it's taking you longer to navigate college or life in general--chances are other people are too!
Not everybody has a "squad." Not everybody has their future mapped out. Not everybody has the quintessential college experience (in fact, less people probably do than we think). So if you're any year in college and you feel like you're more lost than you should be and you begin to panic--don't. We need to get rid of these expectations and realize that, at any time, we could be finding our way.
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