When I actually arrived at college, I found that forming a new friend group was a lot more difficult than I thought. Even though I knew that most people want to make new friends, everyone puts out the image that they’ve already found a group, which made them seem much harder to approach. Especially in such a large university, it’s intimidating to “find your people” amongst thousands of strangers. Even though I had the built-in friendship of my sister and her boyfriend, who are both MSU students as well, I couldn’t help but miss having my own group of friends. Because of this, my first semester of college was defined by an unexpected, overwhelming loneliness.
Loneliness reaches beyond just being bored or missing your friends and family. When left unaddressed, it soon turns into a looming feeling of sadness and inadequacy that spreads into all areas of your life. Because of my loneliness, I began losing drive to get through my classes. Even though they were in some ways a distraction from my lack of a social life, they also felt like a reminder of it: it seemed that every other student was thriving where I had failed.
I am still in my first year, and honestly things have not yet made a dramatic shift for the better. But one important thing has changed: I stopped denying to myself and others that I was having a problem, and that that problem was seriously affecting my life. I know it’s cliché to say that accepting you have a problem is the first step to getting better, but it’s true. By confiding in friends at different colleges, I found that my own loneliness is not unusual. Merely knowing this helped me to stop beating myself up over it. So, my advice to current and future undergraduates is as follows:
- Don’t be afraid to approach others with friendship -- college is new for everyone, and they are probably just as in need of a friend as you are.
- Be patient with yourself. Even though it seems like it at times, there is no time-constraint on making new friends.
- If you feel isolated because you haven’t made close friends, talk to somebody about it, whether it’s your family, your friends from high school, or a counselor. It can be difficult to do, but you will feel so much less alone.