By Jennifer Smith | Reporter
his semester marks the start of the fourth and final year of my college career. After two universities, three changes in my major and four years, I’ve come to reflect on the things I’ve learned along the way –– the first and arguably most important — the significance of friendship.
I reflect back on my first weeks as a freshman, walking around like a lost puppy, trying to meet people but not wanting to “try too hard.” A whole new world of independence had been opened to me, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
Leaving home for the first time can feel daunting. You lose all sense of the familiarity and comfort you had your entire life. It can be confusing and scary to be on your own for the first time, and this is when leaning on other people is crucial.
I couldn’t count the number of times my freshman roommate and I would have heart-to-hearts in our dorm. Sitting on our twin sized beds, we would confide in each other about all the things we didn’t expect and how hard classes actually were. The more I realized other people felt the same way I did, the easier it was not to compare myself to all the “amazing” college experiences everyone seemed to be having on Instagram.
College is not the perfectly filtered gameday picture you see on your timeline. It’s a process that’s messy, hard, exhausting and rewarding. I’ve found some of the hardest parts in college come from simply not having a comfort blanket anymore. Things that used to comfort you in your hometown are no longer with you in college. Whether that comfort came from your mom, hometown friend, or childhood pet, you have to readjust and learn how to deal with misfortunes without those things by your side.
The good news is, you’re not alone. Everyone goes through adjustment periods with new environments in college. Having friends or a good friend to relate and talk to through those times can really help you gain perspective.
This current semester, my grandmother passed away. She had always been an important part of my life and the timing was especially unfortunate, so it took a toll on me. The worse I was feeling, the more I would want to shut off and just be by myself. It wasn’t until those small encouraging texts came in, or the middle-of-the-day random hugs from my roommates that I started to feel like myself again.
Different friends offered different types of support, and after many movie nights with them, I felt as if I was at home being helped by my family. It takes a while to find “your people” and build that trust. Even if it’s just one person, it takes time to get there. But as I’ve learned over the past four years, investing in genuine friendships will improve your college experience tremendously. Everyone could use a friend sometimes.