As a second semester freshman, I still don't know everyone in my graduating class. I don't even know one quarter of the people in it. But something feels different this semester. I now find myself texting my roommate, "On my way home!!" after a long day of class as I climb the four flights of stairs up to my dorm room. That must mean something, right?
There is definitely something to be said about being a first-year college student. A new school is hard enough of a transition without having to adjust to living on my own. First semester, I couldn't even walk into the dining hall by myself because it was too large and intimidating, the faces too unfamiliar, and my own place in this new world was still very unbeknownst to me. There were many things I was too scared to do, places I was too scared to go, and wherever I did go, I felt completely unknown and invisible. I had forgotten what it was like to be new. And it terrified me; it made me feel like I was doing something wrong, or worse, that I might not belong here.
The reality is, all things take time -- especially growing up. Having never been away from home for more than two months in the summer, I didn't really know how to take care of myself. I certainly didn't know how to do my own laundry, among other things, and I leaned heavily on my parents (via Skype) to vent about my life and ask for advice -- things that I should have been going to my college friends for. I did most of my homework in my room and I would only ask my hall mates to get dinner with me. If they weren't free, I most likely ordered in or picked up dinner and took it back to my dorm. For some reason, I was too scared to poke my head out of my shell and explore on my own. I didn't give myself the opportunity to even get to know my surroundings, so how could I possibly love them?
College is all about finding your place in the world -- or so I've been told -- and I still don't at all know my place in the world. But something I definitely learned over the past few weeks of second semester that is that it's impossible to find your place in a world that you refuse to venture out into. By staying in my room instead of going out and seeking new relationships, I cut my self off from so many potential friendships. I am so lucky that I was able to find the flaws in my logic before it was too late and meet the amazing people that I now call my friends.
How did I change my ways? I chose to. Now, I will walk into the dining hall all by myself and find a table among the masses quite comfortably. But usually, before that can even happen I run into a friend and get caught up in a lengthy conversation about something completely random. And I love it. In those moments, when I bump into a friend I haven't seen in a few days or watch a silly show like The Bachelor with people I feel comfortable with, I am blissfully happy. Because I have finally opened myself up to new people, something I haven't had to do since middle school.
In college, it is vitally important to immerse yourself in your environment and create a family of your friends, classmates and even the random people you see at parties on Saturday nights. There is nothing worse than being alone in a new world; I learned that the hard way. We are all just people traveling along on our own individual paths that happen to cross for a moment or two. But if we don't hold fast to that moment and live vivaciously within it, the moments will add up and amount to an extremely lonely existence.