January 28, 2020 | LIFE | By Grace Cutler

There are so many things that people don’t tell you about starting college. They don’t tell you about the extent of academic stress you will face, that it isn’t as easy to get involved in clubs and teams as you expected, that homesickness will likely occur, and, if you’re anything like me, nobody warns you about how hard it is to make real friends.

You are left to figure out so much on your own while simultaneously experiencing the newfound independence of being in college, which can be scary. That said, consider this article as a “How To” guide for making and keeping fulfilling friendships in college. It is based on my own personal journey, with the hope that maybe someone will find it helpful. 

I have always been introverted and shy. I have had a lot of trouble with making good friends for most of my life. I figured that college would be my chance to experience a clean slate and participate in numerous clubs and activities to make more friends.

Doing so has been proven to be a fantastic way of meeting new people that share common interests. Primarily, I suggest that all fellow introverts put themselves out there and join any interesting clubs and activities.

I also made it a priority in my first month at school to become familiar with the people in my residence hall. For example, towards the beginning of block one, I was walking through Loomis at around 11:00 p.m. when I heard music coming from a room down the hall. Realizing I knew these neighbors, my curiosity getting the better of me. I shakily knocked on the door to observe. 

There were maybe five or so people in the room with guitars, violins, and angelic voices having what they dubbed a “jam session.” They welcomed me instantaneously and asked if I sang or played an instrument. I told them that I sang but only to myself on account of my chronic shyness.

They assured me that there was nothing to be afraid of and instead, asked what my favorite song was. I responded with “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” by Bob Dylan.

Towards the end of the “jam session,” they played the song, and I finally felt comfortable enough to quietly sing with the others. It made me feel, for the first time in years, like I truly belonged and that there were people here that may actually want to spend time with me. 

Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to the block plan that can be hard to navigate when trying to make and maintain quality friendships as an introvert. A class is only three-and-a-half weeks, so, once it is over, it becomes very difficult to keep in touch with the friends you made.

Or, if you make a friend that is much more involved in clubs or sports teams than you are, that friendship can also be challenging to uphold. However, in my experience, when you develop friendships that are loyal and resilient, there will always be a way to make that friendship work, no matter how many factors try to tear it apart. 

So, if you identify as an introvert and have had trouble making or keeping solid friendships in the past or in the present, you are far from alone. It can be difficult to maintain one’s own self-esteem and confidence during the struggle to find loving and supportive friendships.

Sometimes, even when someone does find those people, it can be hard to trust that they truly want to be your friend. That is something that I have been struggling with for a long time. But trust me, there will always be people that want to be your friend and will always be there for you; they just may be slightly harder to find.

If you join clubs or organizations that excite and interest you and try your best to put yourself out there socially, the people you need will come to you. 

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