College isn't what I thought it would be
Pizza on school nights. Frat boys in boat shoes. Frisbee tosses in the quad. These were three of the most stereotypical and ridiculous ideals I had at just four days into my freshman year of college. But amongst the broken myths was the biggest shock and adjustment of all — not immediately discovering myself in the social scene.
In the previous months leading up to my journey two and half hours away from my hometown to a college where I did not know a single soul, anyone I had run into told me I was about to enter the best four years of my life. I would meet friends whom I would never forget and they would feel like soul mates and the memories I would make would last a lifetime. Every other freshman there would be in the same position: open to new people and ideas. They would be overly friendly and encouraging, so I would have to do the same. While these ideas began sounding like a broken record by mid-July, they did reassure every doubt and morsel of anxiety that slipped into my head and this self-assurance gave me a new hope that my life was really about to begin.
As someone who was never necessarily popular in high school, I was also not disliked. Attending parties may not have been a regular part of my weekly schedule, but it still happened every now and then. I never burned bridges. I tried to be friendly and nice with everyone, and despite my close bond with the other members of the girls’ basketball team, I was never defined or labeled by any particular clique. This philosophy helped me survive what were not the most pleasant four years of my life and I was relieved that I would be leaving such a system of social hierarchy to experience a world where everyone was discovering life beyond their comfort zones — or so I thought.
Every time I walk across campus I am amazed by how many students travel in the same groups ranging from two to six or seven people. In my attempts to get to know others, our conversations would just turn into how they were rooming with their friends from high school or their best friends since they were six years old. On the rare occasion that I found someone who had done random roommate selection, I would come to find that they were best friends immediately. I have absolutely no problem with the whole “make new friends, but keep the old” state of mind, but I have found that everyone I have run into has found a small group of friends instantly and has already settled into a comfort zone.
For fear that perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough, I started to REALLY branch out to others. I showed up to events alone, sought out others who were alone. I even invited myself to people’s dorms and hung out with their friends. I’ve exchanged numbers only to be left waiting for calls and texts. Don’t get me wrong, everyone I have met has been extraordinarily nice, but not willing to attempt to get to know me. The groups that have been so courteous to let me tag along despite the fact that I already could not follow their inside jokes were great, but still not people I really click with and we all know it.
There are two choices in front of me: I could be the girl who gives up and wallows in a self-pity party in the darkness of her dorm room, or I could be persistent and go out there and sign up for clubs that strike my interest and just continue to push my own limits when it comes to socializing. In the worst-case scenario, I wait two semesters to figure out that maybe a small school is not for me. I do not plan on this setback interfering with my academic success and if anything, it is more of an incentive. In only a matter of four days, college taught me an important lesson: optimism is the key to overcoming challenges. So as far as being handed lemons, I am adding one spoon of sugar to this lemonade everyday.
Bridget Sweeney is a freshman patiently awaiting the day her college offers a major in Beyoncé, but until then will settle for Psychology. She is a Philly native who can currently be found roaming the streets of Baltimore.