College. Everyone’s greatest escapade. A generation moulded through the experiences we’ve accumulate for ourselves. To me, it is the seamy underbelly of an individual’s one way ticket to hell–adulthood.
Don’t get me wrong, college always had been a fun place to experiment; understanding yourself a little better every step of the way. Though with the long class hours, strenuous amounts of readings, panic attacks that disregard consideration for my schedule, and the horrors of existentialism, I began to realize that college had somehow cheated me into believing that everything was going to be different.
High school was a very awkward time of trying to fit in. Even though I knew at least one person from every social group, I was definitely no where near the threshold of ‘popular’. I was a quiet, uncomfortable-with-her-own-skin, asian-american girl that kept to herself.
Refusing to conform into the pressures of being one of the ‘cool kids’, I stuck to my own group of friends that had little to no interest in the social ladders of high school.
Once my awkward chapter of high school soon came to an end, the excitement to start college was imminent. Although it may had been foolish to believe that college was exactly how movies portrayed them; especially since I was going to an Asian university, I didn’t stop to think about the reality of things, until I lived it myself.
And like any melodramatic millennial, there was this one (first-world) concern that had been etched in the back of my mind throughout the 3.5 years in college:
I barely know anyone
Now, one of the biggest promises I had expected from college was friends. Although, I had no problems striking conversation with people, it didn’t seem to be enough to have most of them ‘stick around’.
- The awkward in between
Being Asian-American; going to an international school in Hong Kong, already segregated myself from a ‘local’ and ‘international’ culture. I was friendly with the locals, but it wasn’t enough to understand their culture/humor/ways-of-living. I got along with the international bunch, but I wasn’t exactly from abroad, so they still saw me as an outsider.
The bottom line was that, no matter how hard I tried to assimilate, I felt completely out of place; not being fully accepted, I eventually decided to give up the stressful search for a ‘group’ of college friends.
2. My absence of campus involvement
I lived in Hong Kong, which meant that I couldn’t obtain dorms for most of my college years. Since I didn’t stay long enough on campus, nor did I have much exposure to hall-mates, this made meeting new people a lot harder.
Even despite gaining a dorm for my senior year, people would rather keep to themselves as you walk by.
Joining a society was tempting, but the long hours of meeting up from 10pm – 3am to practice or ‘discuss’ things scared me right off. I began to notice that my college was a complete 180 in comparison to the ones in the US or UK.
3. I got along better with exchange students
What makes exchange students so affable? Probably the fact that they only need a passing grade, and all their drama was left in the college they came from.
I never had any problems with exchanges students, as they never seemed to judge you, were extremely easy to talk to, and always enjoyed themselves. The sad part was that, even though I had made tons friends in this department, they obviously left soon after the term was over.
I was back to square one
4. I hate people
I’m pretty cynical. Dealing with drama in my life had made me tired of human relations. Now this area is completely my fault, so it might seem a little hypocritical when I say it’s hard for me to make friends. Though how many people can relate with me on this?:
I’m out walking, a crowd of people around me; and all I mutter under my breath is “I hate people”.
I’m invited to a party with friends. I ask them who’s there, and despite me wanting something to do, the first thing I would mention is “ugh, but I hate people.”
For me, my energy gets drains if I have too many social interactions. Having to keep up with different people is exhausting. In the end, it’s pretty much my choice to not make the effort to have that many friends.
So if I already made this choice, why am I complaining that college cheated me?
Answer: My cynicism was partly the result of the lack of ‘success’ in harboring the desired amount of friends during college.
Why did this worry me so much?
It may seem a little farfetched, but the inevitable doom of barely anyone showing up for my graduation photo day made me slightly panic.
-queue the eye rolls-
Although I am well aware that isn’t what making friends are for, this ‘photo day’ realization made me admit and accept–as insignificant as it may be–an insecurity of mine.
I never really cared what people thought, but why did this seem to bother me so much?
In fact, it was because I actually did care about it. A lot.
Despite constantly telling people “I don’t care”, I came to accept it was a coping mechanism to not feel disappointed.
I didn’t want to look like a loner.
It seems as if I’ve still brought a bit of my high school insecurities with me to college. I felt that if I didn’t have a lot of ‘friends’ on my grad photo day, then there was something wrong with me. Even if that wasn’t true.
It was almost as if the number of friends was a reflection of how ‘complete’ my college experience would be; and this insecurity ate a part of my positivity, every time I tried to brush it off.
Lacking the obscene amount of friends is not what ‘bothers’ me, but it is the fear of looking like I’ve failed at even the most basic of human social interactions.
Always cherish the friends you make, even if it’s only 1 or 2. It’s not that easy to actually find someone you ‘click’ with.
People will always come and go, but the ones who accept your faults, and shares their dirty secrets are the ones that stay.
– Charlotte T.
Food for thought: Do we ever fully choose to be alone?