Last summer I was beyond excited to begin my college experience: Villanova was the perfect sized school for me, offered so many opportunities to get involved, and I already knew a lot of other people at the school. On paper, it seemed like I would instantly find my place at the school, but that wasn't the case.
The first semester of college is difficult for anyone. For most of us, it's our first time living away from our home and it's an adjustment to handle the pace of college classes. On top of these big changes, we have to make new friends and figure out how we belong at our universities. Before entering college, friends and family will tell you, "These will be the best four years and you will make friends for life!", creating the expectation that you will immediately find your clique. Some people will find their best friends in the first couple weeks of classes, but for many students, including myself, it takes longer than that.
I struggled to find steady friends first semester, constantly bouncing between groups trying to find where I fit in. Although I was my authentic self, I often felt like I didn't fit in with the people I was hanging out with. I remember seeing my friends from home posting pictures with their new college friends online and thinking, "how were they able to make friends so quickly?" and, "is there something wrong with how I'm putting myself out there?". I tried out for the club tennis team, which was the sport I played almost every day, and didn't make the team- further adding to my difficulty in finding my place at Nova. I often debated whether or not I had made the right decision about where to go to school and felt like I was lying to my friends from home when I said I loved college. During breaks, I talked to my family about how I was feeling, and they assured me this happens to almost everyone. "No it doesn't", I protested, "everyone has a set friend group already except for me just look at Snapchat or Instagram".
After winter break, I was nervous about returning to Villanova but was determined to give the school another chance. I rushed a sorority, became involved with campus events such as NOVAdance, went to the gym with friends, and talked to girls in my hall I hadn't talked to before. By throwing myself into activities that I found interesting and meeting new people, I was able to find incredible friends and my home at Villanova. Although I still have friends I met at the beginning of college, I realized I was trying too hard to fit into groups that didn't share a lot in common with me.
The funny thing is that I felt like I was alone in this experience my first semester, but after talking to the girls in my sorority, the new friends I made, and friends from home, I learned that many people had a similar story to me. No one likes to admit when they're going through a hard time, but all it takes is for one person to say that school was hard for them for everyone else to share that they felt the same way. So if many of us have a hard time adjusting to college, why don't we talk about it more? Social media creates this facade that our lives are perfect and we're all having an amazing college experience, making anyone who feels otherwise embarrassed to say that they aren't. The truth is that regardless of what people are posting on Instagram and Snapchat, you never know what they are feeling outside of that picture. It's easy for our generation to pretend our lives are perfect, and it's even easier as a follower to believe it.
So for anyone who may feel like they are struggling to adjust to college, know that you aren't alone in feeling that way and don't believe everything you see online. You will find your group and love your new home, you just might not be looking for friends in the right places.