You’re Not Alone in Feeling Alone

“Get involved! Leave your door open the first few weeks! Find your lifelong friends!”

Sound familiar? Coming into college, I figured it would be easy to make friends. On a campus with over 50,000 people, it couldn’t be too difficult to find a handful of close friends, right? I certainly didn’t think so, but it ended up being harder than I expected. If you had idealistic expectations like me, you probably fell into some of the traps I did. For example:

You assume your roommates are going to become your close friends. When you’re trapped in a confined space with other people, you think you’ll end up spending so much time together and inevitably become BFFs. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t the case. If you end up with roommate(s) who you really click with, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s pretty normal. With so many people at one school, it’s unrealistic to expect that the people you happen to live with will become your closest friends.

You expect the first people you meet in a student organization to become your close friends. You go to the involvement fair, find the perfect club, and muster up the courage to attend the first meeting. You talk to a few people and consistently continue to go to the meetings. A few months in, though, you may realize you don’t really see these people much outside of the club. While it’s nice to think that you’ll easily become friends with people who share common interests, it’s not necessarily going to happen so easily.

You expect the people in your first semester classes to become your close friends. In the first few weeks of the semester, everyone’s trying to make friends. People are going out of their way to introduce themselves, exchange phone numbers, and work on group projects together. For the duration of the semester, you may consistently see the same people because you share a class with them. This doesn’t mean you’ll automatically become friends, and once the class is over, it doesn’t mean you’ll stay friends. 

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Hopefully, you’re beginning to see a common pattern here: you expect the first group of people you meet on campus to become your close friends. These are assumptions that I made my first year, and when the first semester had ended, I felt alone. I thought I had somehow failed at college by not finding a close group of friends within my first semester. When I went home for winter break, I felt isolated, and coming back to campus didn’t sound as appealing without a close group of friends to return to. At that point, I wasn’t sure what to do, but here are some things I eventually learned:

Building worthwhile relationships takes time. After knowing the same people my entire life, I had forgotten what it felt like to form new relationships with strangers, and I was in too much of a hurry to make connections. Eventually, some of the people I occasionally talked to my first semester grew to be some of my now closest friends. We ended up spending more time together and things eventually clicked. Whether you connect with someone instantly doesn’t determine whether you’ll end up being good friends, so give yourself time to get to know people.

It’s okay to let people and expectations go. In the eagerness that comes with trying to find a new group of friends, it can be tempting to cling onto the first group of people you meet on campus. You may try really hard to keep in touch with people from your first semester classes or the first few people you met at student org meetings. You may even keep trying to force a connection with your roommates that just doesn’t pan out. At some point, you have to give up. You’re not meant to be friends with everyone you meet, and you’re not obligated to stay in touch with people just because they were the first people you met when you came to campus. Chances are, you’ll end up meeting some of your closest friends later on in your college experience.

Sometimes, there’s value in being alone. During the month of winter break, I had a lot of time to reflect on my first semester, and I came to an interesting realization. One of the most exciting (and sometimes terrifying) aspects of coming to college is the newfound independence. Part of me associated independence with being alone, and that idea made me uncomfortable. In high school, I was used to being surrounded by people all day, including club meetings after school. During my first semester, when I didn’t spend as much time with other people, I learned to become more comfortable spending time with myself. Even though I eventually found my social circle, I learned the value of spending time alone and enjoying my own company. 

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Here’s my ultimate piece of advice: when it comes to finding your social circle on campus, just give it time. It’s perfectly normal and okay to feel alone sometimes, even at a school where you’re constantly surrounded by people. Eventually, as you continue to meet more people, you’ll end up finding those lifelong friends you’re searching for- and it will be well worth the wait. 

Love is in the air

Some people hate it, and some people love it, but either way Valentine’s Day is 4 days away! So, let’s have a chat about relationships! It doesn’t matter if you’re currently seeing someone, actively looking, or happily, perpetually single. Valentine’s Day and relationships are things most people thinks about on Feb. 14. Maybe you’re just in it for the discount chocolate on Feb. 15, your idea of sweet nothings is whispering I want to be with you as much as–if not more–I don’t want to be with a Furby at night, or you spend weeks planning something special for your boo.

To be honest, I’m more excited for Deadpool to be released on Feb. 12 this year, but to each their own.

Deadpool

Source: Marvel

But on a more serious note, let’s take a closer at some relationship statistics for college students…

  • 43 percent of women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors
  • 1 in 3 people in relationships have given their partner their computer, email, or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse
  • 57 percent say dating abuse is difficult to identify and 58 percent don’t know how to help someone who is experiencing it

What defines a healthy relationship?

No matter your relationship status these are important questions to think about. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is able to help:

Healthy relationships allow both partners to feel supported and connected but still feel independent. COMMUNICATION and BOUNDARIES are the two major components of a healthy relationship. Ultimately, the two people in the relationship decide what is healthy for them and what is not. If something doesn’t feel right, you should have the freedom to voice your concerns to your partner.

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Where can you get help or just talk to someone?

*If you are in an unsafe relationship please use caution and access these links from a public computer.

I know it’s a heavy topic but it’s one that has the potential to impact everyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, or personality. So, please, if you or someone you know is in this position, speak up.

8 Ways Your First Year is Like Falling in Love

We have reached the 8th day of Ohio State orientation and in honor of this 8th day, I will share with you the 8 ways your first year is like falling in love.

1. The Butterflies

When first falling in love you may feel anxious, nervous and excited — what we commonly refer to as experiencing “the butterflies.” These butterflies are the similar to the feelings that students have before they enter their first year of college. Many students begin to feel anxious and excited as they think about their classes, their roommates or simply adjusting to a new lifestyle, unlike anything they have ever known before. Being nervous is normal. However, I encourage you to approach your first year with an open mind and to experience the new things available to you. This “leap of faith” toward your newfound love (Ohio State, of course!) can make your freshman year truly amazing.

2. Speed Dating

Falling in love requires finding the right person. When falling in love, you may search for “the one” or the person who is the right fit. This involves trying new things and learning about different people, similar to the Involvement Fair, which is held on the Oval on the first Sunday of Welcome Week. There are over 700 student organizations represented on the Oval with members eager to speak with new students about that club or organization. These groups gather there with the sole purpose of sharing their passions and interests with incoming students, hoping to create a connection. Like dating, it is a time for first-year students to learn about different student organizations and find the right path of involvement.

3. Your First Date

When going on your first date, one of the biggest decisions is deciding where to eat. Just like a date, your first year offers many dining options at the university. Some of my favorites include the Ohio Union, Kennedy Commons, Fresh Express and Mirror Lake Creamery (voted the best “cheap date” location on campus)!

4. The Honeymoon Phase

The honeymoon phase includes the early stages of a relationship when everything feels exciting and new. This can be compared to the first six weeks here at Ohio State, when first-year students start to make their connections and begin to adjust to their new lives and environments. My piece of advice for you is to stay on campus as much as possible during these first six weeks to take in the excitement and to develop these new relationships.

5. The First Kiss

In love stories, the “first kiss”  is a magical moment, symbolizing the love and connection between two people. It’s a moment full of beauty and understanding and one that is not easily forgotten.  This “magical first kiss moment” is similar to another magical moment during your first year at Ohio State. It’s the moment where you become a part of the Ohio State family and truly understand what it means to be a Buckeye. This could be the first time you sing “Carmen Ohio,” the first time you connect with your roommate, when you join a student organization, or even your first year orientation.

 6. The First Fight

Love can come with some bumps in the road. Problems arise and fighting happens but sometimes this is what makes relationships healthy. These disputes can offer opportunities to learn, grow and develop. Your first year may not be perfect, but challenges will serve as a way to grow as you begin to learn more about yourself and more about the world.

7. Sharing living space

A big step in a relationship is making the decision to spend more time with that person. Eventually some couples spend so much time together, they begin to learn the intricate details about a person (their cleanliness, daily habits, etc.) similar to moving in with your roommate during your first year. This could be one of the first times you learn how to cohabitate with someone and what it’s like to be away from your home and your family.

8. The Moment You Say “I Love You”

This is the special moment where two people express the feelings and emotions that have been developing for each other. Realizing how much you love a person can be similar to recognizing your attachment to your university. For me, I realized that I’ll always have a place for Ohio State in my heart because of my wonderful memories here and the simple fact that I am and always will be a Buckeye for life.

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Check out our blog on Friday to read our 10th day of orientation post from the amazing Alante’ Ward…he’ll discuss the 10 types of people you meet during your first year!