4 Ways to Forge Fulfilling Friendships in College
Updated: Nov 16
PHHS ‘17, NJIT ‘21
Does 2+2=5? I’ll give you a moment to think about it. I needed a pencil and scratch paper so feel free to do the same. No, 2+2 does not equate to 5, but I like to think that in a healthy friendship, two people come together to be greater than the sum of their individual parts.
The obvious theme of the college experience is to get a valuable academic education, but you may be surprised to find how much perspective you gain simply from the people you surround yourself with. However, even after meeting tons of people at your new school, you can still succumb to feelings of loneliness and emptiness. Here are 4 tips to deepen your existing friendships, and find meaning in budding friendships.
1) Don’t Let Opportunity = Pressure
After high school, I set out to revamp my whole social life because I never felt that I had found “my people”. Instead, I spent my first year at college frustrated and dejected because I spent so much of my energy trying to fit in.
College is unique in that you are around a large group of people your age who have similar interests and ambitions, all while experiencing the same struggles and changes. The more I kept reminding myself of this, the more hopeless I felt. As I began to let go of those expectations, I started to see my failures as progress to the social life I had in mind.
2) Be Less Tolerant
Say you decide you want friends that are honest with you and encourage growth instead of staying with friends that feed into drama and refuse to change. There is nothing wrong with leaving that friendship. You are not being a mean person, and it’s in each person’s best interest to go their separate ways instead of trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole. Setting your standard for a healthy friendship will clear out the people who take from your life, and attract
those who add value.
3) Vulnerability, Vulnerability, Vulnerability
I find that choosing to be vulnerable in friendships is the difference between feeling lonely and thinking “no one gets me”, and feeling cared for and understood. Vulnerability is simply not letting things like ego and anxiety get in the way of communicating your true feelings. These moments can be crying to a friend over a heartbreak, or telling someone how much you appreciate them. Take that risk. Fall back and let them catch you.
4) Reach Out!
If you are a young person, chances are you have these sorts of thoughts often: “They’re ignoring me because I said something. They must be tired of talking to me, so maybe I should give them space.” OR, hear me out... they’re waiting for YOU to text them, shocker I know! In reality, that friend you think is ‘neglectful’ is most likely caught up with work or feeling down. You will be surprised how many people will be happy to hear from you because they very well may be having the same thoughts.
Although we won’t be physically close with friends in the near future, virtual communication still allows us to feel emotionally close with our loved ones. Use these pointers to improve your current relationships and experience the full benefits of a ‘2+2=5’ friendship.