True confessions of a college first-year

Truth #1: I’m lonely.

You think that once you leave home and start to live on your own, it’s going to be so exciting. You think you’re going to suddenly have all this freedom and be able to do whatever you want and it’ll be great. No parents, no rules, just you living your life.

Technically, that is true. But what a lot of us don’t think about is exactly what we are losing when we finally leave the nest and move into that fabulous dorm room.

I personally made the bright decision to go to college out of state. My initial thoughts were ones of freedom, new beginnings and a new me. Again, this is technically what I got.

Going out of state also means that I don’t know anyone. Literally. NOBODY. All of my friends and family are hours away, back at home. So, I’m sitting in my dorm room at night wishing I had someone to hang out with.

As first-year students, we all had to sit through the days of orientation, and part of that was listening to upperclassmen telling you, “Join clubs! Do activities! Talk to people! That’s how you make friends.”

The struggle we first-year students face in doing that is that we are all still stuck in this high school mindset: Don’t talk. Don’t stand out. Must seem cool. Don’t be weird. We force ourselves into these little boxes that confine us, leave us pretending, doing everything in our power to not be “the weird kid.”

We have to act like we have it all together—like we aren’t lonely, confused, upset, etc. Asking questions is not allowed because then we may look stupid.

But we need to break out of this mindset we’ve put ourselves in. We have to realize that we’re all adults now, and we are all going through the same experience right now.

Some of us are from this area, so we have friends and we know generally where we are and what’s going on.

Then there are those who are like me, in an entirely new state who know no one and nothing. Either way, we are all starting over in this new community of college, relearning the rules and the expectations of this place we have chosen to make our home.

This leads me back to my main point. We are all in different levels of loneliness. We won’t admit it, but it’s true. We don’t know anyone, and we’re too afraid to go up and introduce ourselves to people, so we just sit in this bubble of loneliness we’ve created.

But I firmly believe that if we could just recognize that we are all going through the same circumstances, we could make the effort to go up and introduce ourselves; say, “Hello;” make plans; and make friends.

Humanity has this plague of wanting things to happen but not wanting to put the effort in that is necessary to make these things happen. We need to change that.

You want to make friends? Put in the effort. Go up to somebody. It seems scary, I know. But nothing is going to change if you don’t put in some effort. And who knows? Maybe you could end up with an amazing, life-long friendship in the end.

The main point here is this: we all want to make friends. So remember that whoever you are approaching is probably lonely, as well, and just say, “Hi.” You never know where it could lead.