Making Friends (in college)
Hello! This is the second post in my series on Tips for the College Freshman. To see more like it, click here!
College is the place of making life-long friends, crazy right? In just four years (on average), you will have people to play a part in your wedding, baby shower, move-in party, and your kid’s graduations. You may be thinking, “How will I find these friends? After all, high school was four years, too and I didn’t make many life-long friends there.
Good question. You see, college is a academic/social/religious/etc. greenhouse. As you will come to discover, everything in college moves fast, yet slow at the same time. You will be living in your dorm for a few months, or maybe even just a few weeks, and feel like you’ve been there for years. So, how do you take advantage of this unnatural time table and make those life-long friends as soon as possible?
As your parents have always told you, be yourself! You will naturally attract people who are like you, so if you aren’t acting like yourself (aka trying to be cool, funny, or smart instead of just being naturally cool, funny, or smart), then you won’t attract people like yourself. This will only harm you in the end. In acting like someone else, you will find friends who act, too. Who wants friends that aren’t genuine? No one.
2. Express your interests
An easy way to make new friends, is to join clubs and go to events you are interested in. Not only does it give you and the other person something to talk about (cause we all know there is that weird time in a new friendship where you two share more than one awkward silence before finally getting past it and becoming true friends), but it opens the gates for opportunities to hang out with them. Some of my closest friends I met while doing something together. Silences weren’t awkward because we were doing something to occupy them.
3. Don’t be afraid to speak
Most other freshmen you will meet will also be as nervous as you to speak up. I don’t know about you, but I tend to think of the perfect thing to say in my mind for whatever the situation is, but I never say it out loud except for when I’m around close friends. During the first few weeks of college, I took away that filter so that people could really see and hear me for who I was. Honestly, that was one of the best decisions I made as it pertains to making friends in college.
4. Be flexible
You friend group(s) will be like a ship in stormy seas (hence the image for this blog post)in the first few weeks, even the first few months or year. There will people fluctuating in and out of your friend groups and you might even have to wean yourself off from certain groups. Don’t be afraid to make more time for those you care about and less time for those who you don’t necessarily click with. Be nice about it, but don’t sacrifice your happiness for someone you aren’t happy with. The longer you stick with them, the more toxic the friendship can become, for both parties.
During the first few months of college, I thought I had found my life-long friend group, but that quickly changed as one of the girls in the group and I started having passive conflict. For a bit, I dealt with it, wrongly assuming that everyone else already had their friend groups and I was, so to speak, stuck with this one. Soon, I decided that being with this group was not good for me mentally or emotionally and ironically, that was about the same time the girl I was having conflict with stopped including me in group events. Now, I have a great group of friends that I would have never met had I felt glued to that group. There is the perfect friend group out there, you just have to be flexible and open to new friends and opportunities. There is no limit to how many friends you can have, so always be open to meeting new people and dropping old ones. Trust your judgement.
5. Make the first move
Sometimes I will see a girl (or guy) and think to myself, “They seem like a cool person. I want to be their friend.” but then I never act on that thought. In fact, it happened yesterday. During the first few months of college, I started acting on my instincts. I started going up to those people, introducing myself, and then even exchanging numbers. This goes a little further than advice #3, but it as just as helpful. I can’t count how many times I have not acted on my instinct and regretted it. After all, what’s the worse that can happen? You suffer minor embarrassment as they say no to exchanging number? Haha, very likely (and if they do that, they wouldn’t be a good friend anyways). At worse, you two probably won’t talk as much as you want to, but that’s really about it. But, at best, you could be meeting your new best friend. Might as well try it.
If you have any questions about any of these or if you have general questions about college, comment below! For the next few weeks I will be offering advice to incoming freshmen so, who knows? Your question or comment might end up in a blog post!