The Social Struggles of College
How did I suddenly go from having 8,598,125 friends to having 2?
By Mattie Winowitch, Waynesburg University
Ahhh, high school.
The “glory days,” as some might call them. As I sit here in my dorm room, desperately wanting to die while simultaneously considering taking up a trade, I sometimes like to think back to high school and reminisce on how much has changed. Sometimes I miss being able to miss more than three days of classes and living at home. Heck, I even miss some of my teachers sometimes.
But more than anything, I miss having friends.
Before you read any further, you should get one thing straight: I’m a classic INTJ. This means that I am an introvert by nature, and even if I get close enough to talk to you, the chances of me actually liking you are slim. It’s a sad life I live, really.
Even though I am an introvert, it took 12 solid years of my life to become comfortable in my small high school. I wasn’t “popular” by any means, but I do like to think that people actually enjoyed my presence from time-to-time.
Somehow, despite being surrounded by the people who watched me transition from awkward elementary schooler, to fugly middle-schooler to half-decent looking high schooler, I had somehow found a way to comfortable pass as an extrovert. Then, I graduated and lost it all.
Now I’m in college, just trying to make it through my classes. I would be totally fine if I lived alone like a hermit and didn’t have to socialize. But, then again, if I really wanted that, I probably should’ve just done online college. I chose this life, so now I must embrace it.
However, in order to embrace social interaction, I am required to get out there and actually meet new people. Unfortunately, to me, doing so is the equivalent of being roasted on an open fire, chestnut-style.
But, I went ahead and did just that: I made a friend. In fact, I made two! But unlike normal people who slowly make their friends one-by-one after going to different events and taking part in different activities, I decided to become friends with the two first people I spoke to on campus.
Those people are now my roommates. I’m not kidding.
At first, I thought, “Wow! This is great! How convenient for me to become best friends with the two first people I met on campus.” But a year later, I am contemplating my entire existence.
These people are great roommates, don’t get me wrong. But, if I’m being totally honest with myself—which I usually am whenever I write—doing this was severely limiting. I basically spent my entire freshman year with two people. Of course, they meant a lot to me and ended up becoming my family on campus, but I am sitting here in my sophomore year feeling full of regret.
College is really all about socializing and meeting other people. We aren’t just spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn shit. We want the “college experience”—you know, that thing that everyone always refers to, but no one has yet to accurately define?
To some, the college experience means running around in a toga while shitfaced. For others, it’s exploring their sexuality (and gender). Some people just want to find their future spouse and their bridesmaids/groomsmen. But for me? I don’t know what I wanted to get out of this. Maybe all I wanted to do was to make one damn friend who would actually give a damn about me and my existence for the next four years of my life.
If nothing else, I’m really good at feeling sorry for myself.
I’ll sit and scroll endlessly on social media and compare my life to the lives of the people I graduated with.
They post photos of themselves and their sorority sisters and their large friend groups at their colleges and universities, and I can’t help but feel like I am missing out on something.
After spending all day looking at pictures like this, I leave the comfort of my dorm and try to put myself out there. But it’s really hard—like, impossibly hard. I have come to the realization that I don’t know how to properly make new friends, and I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not. I’m going to assume it’s a bad thing, just because working well with others and knowing how to network are both very important when it comes to becoming employed and being successful. One must know how to play well with others. It’s as simple as that.
But for me, it’s not that simple. I wonder what people think about me all the time, but in reality, I know that no one actually cares about me or my lack of “friend group” posts. Hell, they’re too busy having fun with all their friends to care about that one girl from high school who was annoying as hell anyway.
The more I think about it, and the more I try and fail to make new friends, the more I realize that maybe I am not meant to have tons of friends. Maybe I’m just not cut out for being lost in a huge friend group. This makes me sound like a loner hermit, but I really mean well.
By looking back at my original goal for college, all I really wanted to do was to make one really good friend. And I did that. I found a stranger who learned about who I am and continued to want to hang out with me. But the key is, they also are really bad at friends. When you combine two people who are both terrible at making friends, you end up with two super tight—but also super loser-ish—people.
Even though we are bad at functioning around other people, we are really good at functioning with each other, so maybe that is all that matters.
I’m sure that by the end of my college career, I will become semi-comfortable with at least some of the people on campus. I will hopefully “make my mark” on a few peoples’ hearts, and hey, maybe I’ll get a couple Facebook friend requests out of the whole thing.
To anyone else who is struggling with this, just know that you are a great person, and that just because talking to another person makes you scared doesn’t mean you are a failure.
Today, I’m slowly learning to be comfortable with being alone and not allowing what other college students do or post to impact how I feel. And the sooner I get over high school, the better. Besides, high school kind of sucked, anyways.