Hey so since school is starting up again and a lot of people I know are going to college for the first time, I wanted to compile some advice/info I’ve learned from my first year. There are a lot of tips about general things but I haven’t seen much about how college can really deal a blow to confidence, social skills, and mental health. Some of the stuff is under the cut since this got long.
- Loneliness is pretty common in college. It doesn’t seem like that because everyone keeps a facade up for social media to make it look like they’re constantly having a good time with friends. It’s easy to think that maybe you’re missing out on something, or something’s wrong with you if you aren’t having a blast and going out on weekends with a big group of happy friends–after all, that’s what all your facebook friends are doing right? In reality, what you see on social media is just the highlights of people’s lives; you’re not seeing any of their lows or stressful times. You aren’t alone if you feel lonely or stressed because you aren’t living a perfect social life.
- Chances are, you’re not going to find a close group of friends immediately. In fact, it might take a while to establish a solid friendgroup–don’t expect that you’re going to find a ride or die/tight-knit “squad” right off the bat.
- Sometimes you won’t even form a friend group by the end of freshman year and that’s ok. It’s hard to make friends when you’re placed in an unfamiliar situation surrounded by people who are suddenly very different from you (esp. if you don’t stay local or school demographics are very different from high school); but don’t lose hope. There’s at least one or two people at your college/uni who will get along really well with you and become good, if not close friends. For some it may not take long to find them, but for me it took 4.5 months before I found someone other than my roommate I could really feel comfortable with and whose company I enjoyed.
- As tempting as it might sound to spend the entire weekend chilling in your dorm/room, it can be really helpful to go out, even to a cafe, library, or any place with people. I’m an introvert who enjoys her own company but I started feeling like shit after a few weeks of not getting enough exposure to other people. You need social interaction at some point to survive.
- If you find yourself thinking “I have no real friends” (which to be honest, might happen at some point), think about any people you’ve met who have been genuinely warm and welcoming to you. Even if it’s a professor, that cashier at the cafeteria, a library worker, your major advisor, the lady working in the career center. Reach out to them and ask if they want to grab lunch or coffee together. It’s so, so tempting to wallow in self-pity and quit trying to befriend people but you can’t give up. If someone’s reached out to you before and you declined their invitation, now’s the time to take them up on that offer. There are people who/will care about you, but like any relationship, you have to try too. When I was feeling my peak suicidal (and spent a day crying in my room reading reddit threads about how lonely someone was in college), I messaged a hallmate asking to eat lunch together the next day. Lunch was a little awkward since it was a big group at a circular table, but that’s how I met my closest friend on campus (we send pics and videos of cats to each other on discord regularly).