I was always told that my college years were going to be some of the best years of my life. And for my freshman and (half of) my sophomore year, I truly believed that.
I was luckier than most people going into college: I left high school with a supportive and amazing friend group back home and already found myself in a group chat with kids in my college. And this group chat and I became very close.
We would talk every day about our lives, and some of us even paired up as roommates. At my school, picking roommates was a big no-no but, through my powers of persuasion, I was able to finesse a roommate of my choosing. And although I was moving across the country from everything I had ever known, I was entering college with a group of friends and without a random roommate. And that was a great feeling.
I skipped the whole making organic friends in college phase. I never had to muster up the courage to sit with random people at lunch, nor did I ever spend a Friday night alone in my dorm. I rolled up to every party with an entire entourage and my Instagram was filled with fun group photos with my friends. My friends and I even talked about living in a giant house with all of us together once we left the dorms.
To the standard college freshman, I was the luckiest girl alive.
Fast forward to senior year: I’m living in a studio apartment and have more posts in my Instagram archives, than my actual feed.
After a whirlwind of pointless drama and an apartment move, I found myself halfway through my sophomore year without that steady friend group I once had. The messages in the group chat faded, plans became less and less frequent, and I quickly found myself where most people are on the first day of college: alone.
This isn’t in the name of self-pity, however. The friend group I’ve had since high school are still my ride or dies, but they’re all the way in Pennsylvania. And I’m lucky to have a tiny sect of best college friends, some of whom have been there since freshman year. I still go out to bars and the occasional party with friends, but in comparison to my earlier days, my life is a bit different when it comes to friendships.
I guess you could say that, now, I’m a college senior without a steady friend group. And that’s okay.
There’s often a weird pressure when it comes to making friends in college. You’re always told that college is where you’ll find yourself, find your people, and make friendships that will last a lifetime. You see the other college friend groups planning trips to Cabo and taking grad photos together as they pop champagne by some building on campus. They say college is going to be the best years of your life, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. You just have to wonder, “Is there something wrong with me?”
No, there isn’t.
There’s no “right way” when it comes to having the college experience. After all, I was once that prime example of how college is the place to find your people: the example that my mom’s friends would use to encourage their college-age kids to get out of their shells. And now, three years later, I’m looking back and realizing that friendships aren’t supposed to be planned or built. They’re just supposed to happen.
I’m also realizing that having a friend group in college is nowhere near a necessity. There’s so much emphasis on finding your people, on making “lifelong friends.” But at the end of the day, shouldn’t college ultimately be about finding yourself?
Without this “steady friend group,” I’ve been able to dedicate time to myself and, ultimately, discover what I deserve out of a friendship. If I’m not the best version of myself, then how can I apply time and energy into another relationship? In the dating world, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with waiting for the right person. And for friendships, I think that same saying applies.
As I enter my senior year, I’m realizing that, while friends may come and go, the only thing that’s 100% promised in this world is yourself. Between a hectic university schedule, extracurriculars, essays, a social life, and all of the other things college life throws at you, there’s no shame in a little extra “me-time.” Once you get to know yourself, then you’ll be able to build lasting friendships. But, it’s important to put you and yourself first.
So, if you’re feeling the stress of not having a steady college friend group, don’t let it make you sweat. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Trust in the universe (and yourself) that friendships are bound to happen, sometimes when you least expect it.
Friends are no doubt an important part of life. But they aren’t necessarily the make or break when it comes to happiness, or college for that matter. You are.
Featured photo by Julianna Mitchell.