Every adult I spoke to during my senior year of high school, aside from asking the typical questions, “Where are you going to school? What are you studying?”, would throw advice my way. A common thread became clear quickly. Dozens of voices rang in my head, all saying “The first month of college is crucial.” Each person would have a different reason, ranging from getting involved on campus to making new friends, making a good impression academically, and getting acclimated to this brand new independent lifestyle away from home, where you are forced to take care of yourself. Not knowing diddly-squat about college, I took it as gospel.
When I was applying to colleges, I would sit, staring at the common app like I was planning my whole future. I imagined reinventing myself. The first month of college is crucial. I didn’t know what that would mean for me. I would picture myself in college, going to parties on weekends, making tons of friends, excelling socially, and not being homesick. I imagined a version of me that was completely different from who I was at the time. I essentially imagined myself and my college career as if it were a preview for a new feature film about college. I’m not sure what made me think that I would change. I think it was mainly driven by hope. I didn’t want to be the same introverted homebody I always was.
When I arrived here, I had already connected with some of my peers digitally, and was excited that I would be entering college with friends. From the moment I committed, I was nervous about finding friends. I thought I was ahead of the game, but at the same time, I had this muted sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to end up connecting with any of them, and I was at least partially right. I liked the majority of them, but I found myself unable to confide in them and afraid of what they were going to think of the real, non-digital me. Rifts were immediately apparent in the group between others. Watching these disputes go down made me realize a lot of things- about myself and about reality. One; I hated being in a group. Too much social entrapment, too much drama, too much exclusivity. Two; High school drama doesn’t end with high school. Three; It can be hard to make friends, real friends, no matter how old you are. I found myself immediately isolated. I wasn’t alone but I was lonely. Other groups started to formulate, and I found myself defaulted on the sidelines, where, I guess if I’m to be in a group, is exactly where I want to be. Even if it does take time for me to make friends, I can always see the potential there before a bond is formed. Now, I may be closed off for some reason, I won’t deny that. It could be my general nerves about college, my inherent skepticism of everyone on earth, or lack of desire to find a clique and love for solitude that has prevented me from getting out there and making friends. I keep thinking, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? THE FIRST MONTH IS CRUCIAL. MAKE FRIENDS. Then I remind myself that, for myself at least, real friendships don’t happen overnight, or even over the course of a month.
Parties? YES SIR! Wait, no… Count me out, I have ice cream and netflix in my room. My senior self may be shaking her head at me, but I still can’t bring myself to enjoy frivolous outings to places where there’s a whole lot of nothing going on, imposed on today’s culture to be social and gain a “cool” reputation. At least that’s how I have always seen it. Also, everyone parties, right? No, apparently not. Some find it fun, and others don’t. There’s nothing wrong with either group, it’s just all a matter of personal preference. Many party, many don’t. You just don’t see the ones who don’t party because, if they’re like me, they enjoy a quiet night in to themselves. I thought the college party culture bug would bite me the moment I rolled up onto campus, but I’ve just remained the same. I even forced myself into it a few times. I’ve trudged across campus in high-heeled velour boots to a loose gathering of closely-packed bodies, flashing lights, broken glass and mysterious puddles. All I learned is that, personally, everything looks more fun on snapchat than it really is.
Though there are days when I feel that I’m some uptight weirdo who is one social invite rejection away from being a total basket case, I just remember that not all lifestyles are created equal. My definition of fun differs from that of any other person, as theirs will likewise differ from each other. I don’t need to be what I’m expected to be by anyone else OR myself. There’s no point for me to change unless it happens naturally. I really do believe that if you smile, the world will smile with you, and you’ll only smile if you’re happy. It’s not a state of being you can force.