Mentoring Monday: Making Friends

Making Friends
Angelica Grau, School of Music Mentor

This seems like such a stupid idea for an article, doesn’t it? Making friends is easy. Well, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s not stupid. This was the article I spent the most time thinking about and drafting over and over, because it is more difficult than you think. I don’t have word-for-word advice for you on how to make true friends in college, but I can offer you the story of my first semester.

My first semester at West Chester began with meeting my random roommate for the first time on move-in day. She was great! We had connected on Facebook over the summer to discuss typical roommate things (ie. Neatness, things we wanted to share/bring, etc.) and we were very lucky to find out that we had a lot in common. I was very excited to have a roommate that I didn’t know, because it would force me to go out there and meet new people. And that I did.

I lived in Tyson hall my first year, on the fifth floor. With Hurricane Irene impeding on our orientation weekend, all of the residents on our floor bonded very quickly. We quickly dubbed our group “Tyson 5” for very obvious reasons. We played Frisbee every single day after classes, went into town on the weekends, and spent our nights in the lounge bonding over our homework or making silly videos on our laptops.

I thought it was perfect. Who wouldn’t?! A highly diverse group of people from all over the tri-state area, all different majors, hanging out all the time. Our RA’s loved it. With my birthday being in mid-September (September 14th, to be exact….hint hint…), they surprised me by decorating my room, singing to me, and bringing me my favorite cake. It felt like everything was going great!

When classes went into full swing, I had a passing thought. What about all the people in my classes? Swope was still very new and I would make small talk with my class-mates, but nothing beyond that really. I ate all my meals with Tyson 5, would go to the gym with Tyson 5, and hang out in the evenings with Tyson 5. No biggie, I thought. These are my real friends anyways.

That idea was thrown out the window in October. I began going through a personal crisis, from having fights with my family members to wanting to change my major to feeling depressed all the time. It was one of the lowest points in my entire life. And yet, none of Tyson 5 was there for me. I felt as if they wanted nothing to do with me because I was going through a hard time. They stopped asking me to come to dinner with them and they would all go to the gym without me. It made me feel like they didn’t want me around.

Truth is, they didn’t. One piece of advice I can explicitly give you is that the walls of the dorms are paper thin. I went to one of my floor mate’s rooms to hang out, and just as I was about to knock on the door, I heard my name. They were talking about me. And not in a positive way. I was heartbroken. I thought these people were my friends. This is the icing on the cake that was my first semester. Nothing had gone right, and now I didn’t even have anyone to talk about it with. I went back to my room and cried my eyes out. Then, I made the sterling realization that these people were not my friends, and they never were. They hung around me (and each other) solely out of convenience. Once they became comfortable with each other, they didn’t have to search for true friends, because they had Tyson 5. They felt powerful since I didn’t share as much in common with them as I had initially thought, so they kicked me out of the group. Or rather, they didn’t have to. That moment made me never want to have anything to do with them ever again. And I didn’t.

I decided over winter break, after having a long talk with one of my closest friends from high school and fellow mentors, Danny O’Neill, that I needed to make more of an effort to branch out into the Swope community.

Come spring semester, I never spent time in my room. I was always at Swope practicing or in the lounge trying to meet new people. I found three amazing girls who were just as silly as me. I met people who there to lend an ear when they heard me crying in a practice room. I was hugged once a day by many different people. I found who I now call my closest friends here at WCU. And I’ll never look back to Tyson 5. Why? Because they were not my real friends.

Making friends all over again can seem really scary. You are surrounded by a completely new environment filled with people you have never met before. I encourage you to branch out as much as possible, both inside and outside of Swope. When I think about it, my friends from home and my friends from school are two completely different groups of people. But trust your gut. If you’re getting doubts about people, don’t ignore them. Don’t trust people fully until they give you reason to. And most importantly, stay true to yourself. While I was typing out this article, I realized that I became depressed because I was trying to change who I was just to remain friends with these people. You should NEVER EVER have to change something about yourself to be friends with someone. College is all about experiencing the diversity of others, and celebrating it. If you keep that in mind, you will have absolutely nothing to worry about. I promise 🙂

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