I’m going to be completely and utterly honest with everyone: I have no friends. Actually, no friends is a bit of an exaggeration. I keep in touch with a few people from high school, but the closest one is an hour and a half away and my girlfriend, who always stand by me, is an hour away back in my hometown. When I’m on campus, which is now my new home and where I spend 80 percent of my time, I have no friends. So, technically, in a way, it’s true.
Adjusting to college can be hard in many ways. For some people, simply the idea of living on your own can be overwhelming. Your classes may be too hard for what you have, or think you have, prepared for. Maybe you’ll get lost on campus, especially the big ones, because it can get confusing. Or, like me, and surprisingly many others, you may not make any friends.
However, I feel I’m a bit of a particular case. Purdue has a total enrollment of forty thousand students, thirty-one thousand of which are undergraduates. While having a place of so many people as your home could provide a lot of opportunities to make a friend, when you have a hard time just talking to people, it can be a struggle. As a result, I’ve kind of isolated myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love my college and in no way can I blame it for my lack of friends; if I had chosen a different school, I’d be in the same situation. The problem is not the location, it’s me.
For the longest time, I desired to be alone. I lived a busy life in high school and solitude, even the momentary variety, was a rarity, so anytime I had no weekend plans and my parents were out for the day, my dream came true—I had the whole house to myself. But heading into my thirteenth week of college, being completely alone is now normal and happens all too often. At the beginning of the semester, I would find myself going a few days without using my voice because everything was new and intimidating. I didn’t talk to anyone, anytime. Now that I’m more comfortable, I do find a way to talk to someone about something (usually talking to my girlfriend on the phone, which totally counts), but still, no friends or even acquaintances.
While some days are worse, as the loneliness becomes overwhelming and I have a hard time coping, there are better days in which I use all of my extra time to do things for myself. A lot of my loneliness comes from the modern phenomenon of FOMO, or fear of missing out. Social media keeps you connected at all moments, which can be a great thing, but when you’re not that active in your social life and all you’re seeing on Snapchat stories and Instagram posts is your past peers and friends living their best life, it can really get to you. FOMO is an anxiety based on the thoughts that you are missing out on all the exciting opportunities out there, but it’s important to remember that you can’t be everywhere all at once, and most importantly, that’s okay.
Spending so much of my time alone has taught me a few things about living with myself, which is important because, well, you are the one person you get to spend the rest of your life with, so you might as well get used to yourself.
1. Take Time for Self-Care
Many people, myself included, don’t remember to include self-care in their everyday routine, but they should. As I mentioned, I was rather busy in high school and never had any time to make sure my mind and body was okay. I barely slept and when I wasn’t sleeping, I’d go from school to practice, to work and back home to do homework. That’s a stressful schedule, and with no breaks or time to relax, it can have harsh effects.
In college, I’ve changed things up. Now I have fewer responsibilities than I did before, and while I have plenty of homework, it’s certainly more enjoyable than it was in high school not to have all of my free time taken up. So, when I find the extra thirty minutes, I will watch a video on YouTube, take a nap, play “Sims 4” or treat myself to some sort of hot drink to counter the cold.
There are many things you can do, but without friends in your life to prioritize and make room in your schedule for, it’s only logical that you would be the one you make time for. And even if you’re still busy without friends, then it’s even more important that you take a moment to step back, turn your phone off and relax.
2. Make the Most of Your Extra Time
Only you can define “making the most” out of your time, and just like self care, you can do whatever you deem fit during this time. For me, it was taking up the internship at “Study Breaks.” I thought if I was going to have extra time on my hands, which is something I’m still not used to, then I might as well work on something I love: writing. The good thing about the internship is that it gives me a schedule to follow, which is helpful for someone who can be quite forgetful. Still, on top of school, work and my internship, I try to find time to read and write for personal projects, such as NaNo.
Whatever it is that you’ve been putting off all these years because you’re too busy or spending all your time with friends, well now’s the time to do it. Also, it will help you keep your mind off of how sad it is that you have no friends. I’m just kidding (mostly).
3. Do Something You’ve Always Wanted to Do
It’s college. It’s the time for growth and fun and exploration and just because at the moment you don’t have any friends, it doesn’t mean you can’t do something fun by yourself.
Back when the weather wasn’t freezing, I decided I was going to go to the mall. West Lafayette, where Purdue’s campus is, is about twenty minutes from Lafayette, where the mall is. For financial reasons, I don’t have my own car yet. So naturally, I took the bus. I managed to only get lost once and had a good time making my way leisurely through the mall, not having to worry about what other people wanted to do.
I know that definitely doesn’t sound impressive at all. But I came from a town of not even six thousand people, so taking a bus to the mall was, before then, something I had never done before. Surely there are more exciting things I may do in the future, but that experience of mine shows that when it’s just you and yourself, the options are limitless. Get out of your comfort zone and try something that you haven’t done before. Self-growth is an important process and will pay off when you’re finally ready, or able, to make friends
As my first semester of college comes to a close, I still have no friends, but many college freshmen (and older) across the country will also be experiencing something similar. If you’re one of them, know that you are not alone because making friends is hard, especially when everyone else seems to have already found their group. Instead, take this time to learn more about yourself and, someday, you’ll find your friends. Things have a funny way of working themselves out.