College comes with a lot of expectations. The hope for most people is to get all A’s in every class, make 5,000 friends, go to a bunch of parties, become president of seven different clubs, get 10 hours of sleep every night, be recruited for your dream job, and find your future spouse all by the first week. The unfortunate reality is that this is not all achievable.
College is hard. You have more to balance academically and socially than ever before. While most of us were probably leaders of many clubs and organizations in high school, when you get here no one knows you. In high school you had an already established social network and friend group to study with, get advice from, hang out with, and rely on. When you arrive on campus everyone starts from ground zero. There’s a lot of work that goes into understanding fluid mechanics or International Relations readings and making friends is no different. Much like some classes, making friends might come really easy to some people and might take some more work for others. Understanding and accepting that all of this might not come right away is really important to avoid being discouraged. It was a full semester before I made a solid friend group or figured out the extra help and resources that Tufts had. I only went to my first office hours a few months ago mainly because I just didn't know how open or friendly they would be.
Up to now this post has been pretty disheartening so I am going to offer a few uplifting suggestions that help me when I get college sadness. The biggest thing is constantly reminding myself that if I am happy doing whatever it is I am doing on a particular weekend, then it doesn’t matter if I’m not partying. In my first year, parties weren’t even allowed because of covid, yet I still found myself getting upset that I wasn’t being invited to the nonexistent parties. It was really my attitude that would keep me from enjoying a Mario Kart night with my roommates. One thing I do almost every night is write a list of things I’m grateful for in my day to day life. It helps me keep the smaller positive interactions define my day rather than letting a few negative moments ruin it. I have also noticed an increased appreciation for quality time with friends since I started recording things I am grateful for day to day. It might sound funny but it is easy to feel lonely in college even when you’re surrounded by people all of the time. I would sometimes get into patterns of not leaving my room, opting out of hanging out with my friends because I was down about how I wasn’t acing all of my classes or very involved on campus or because I was going to school in a pandemic. Realizing the cycle I had put myself in was a big first step in reversing my issue. It didn’t take much to get back on track. I began leaving my room more to study with friends and met up for food more often and I eventually forgot my loneliness.
I say this all just to convey that sometimes reaching a balance you are happy with takes time and sometimes you just have too much work to have balance all of the time. I’ve found that most of college for me so far has been trying to figure that balance out.