Here I am. Freshman in college, standing in the middle of a seemingly huge urban campus. Looking around, I see groups of people walking together, eating, hanging out on the grass. And I am alone.
I moved into a Temple residence hall less than a week ago, so this whole thing is still completely new to me. I barely knew anyone when I got here, not even my roommate. We had casual conversations online during the weeks leading up to move-in, but I didn't really "know" her. I didn't really know anyone.
My first full day on campus entailed Convocation, where we met with our specific colleges, ending with the whole freshman class gathered in the Liacouras Center for a ceremony of sorts. Given that my roommate and I are in different colleges, I was completely alone all day.
As I stood on the turf in the STAR Complex, I felt utterly isolated. Once again, small groups formed around me, everyone excitedly chattering as we waited to parade over to the larger meeting. I could not help but feel down, as I could not find even a single person who was also alone.
This followed up with eating lunch alone. I am a person who cannot approach people easily and, although I try, I rarely just walk up to someone and start a conversation. Because of this, I've just had a small group of friends my whole life. Now, being in a new place and not knowing anyone, I felt hopeless. I trekked back to my room and ruminated in my self-doubt and insecurity.
Later that night, coming back up from the dining hall, a group of girls who live on my floor were all in the elevator. When we realized we all lived together, we started talking and ended up standing in the hallway for almost an hour. While we spoke, the other girls brought up that they spent most of the day alone or only with their roommate. At that moment, I had a revelation.
I'm a freshman in a college with 25,000+ students. Its a completely new environment. Of course, I'm not going to know anyone at first! It was my first day and I was already getting down on myself for being a loner.
I had unrealistic expectations for myself and for others that led to inevitable disappointment. When another girl said, "I want classes to start, I have no friends!" I thought, "Wow, I'm not alone."
I don't know why it was so surprising to me, that these people also did not have any friends yet. It's pretty obvious that it takes a while to make friends and get accustomed to a new environment. I just had a vision of myself making friends so easily after I left my small high school, but that's just not the case, especially with me.
The other girls and I ended up bonding over the fact that we didn't have friends and just like that, we all had some friends! Even though Temple is a huge school, it's nice to have some familiar faces around while walking to class or going for a meal in the dining hall.
I've only been in college courses for two days, but I already learned an important lesson in patience. It's essential that you don't let your expectations affect how you experience something. Its also just as important to take things as they come and not let your mind tell you your hopeless if it doesn't work out right away.
I am now feeling confident as I walk the streets of Temple, knowing that there are friendly girls on my floor and there are definitely tons of people I have yet to meet and connect with!