After a summer of anticipation, attending every New Student Zoom available and obsessively soaking up every bit of information about Hopkins, my freshman year arrived. I imagined myself being very social, going out on weekends with friends and quickly forming deep friendships.
When the year finally began, I quickly found my freshman year to be the opposite of what I’d hoped, as I didn’t immediately find a group of friends who I clicked with. Despite the saying that everyone is looking to make friends in their freshman year, I found it difficult to move from acquaintances to close friends.
The result was that I had moments when I felt lonely and disconnected on campus. As I saw other freshmen in large friend groups, I worried that I'd never find my place at Hopkins. Was Hopkins not the right place for me? Was it even possible to make friends after freshman year? Did anyone else feel like this?
Looking back as a rising junior, I recognize that my feelings of loneliness were not as isolated to me as I thought and that many other freshmen felt the same way, whether they said so or not. Freshman year is a unique year, full of new experiences, challenges and transitions, and I guarantee that all freshmen have had moments of loneliness. However, your freshman year experience does not dictate what the rest of your college years will be like.
In my sophomore year, I made many great friends and felt as though I found my place on campus. I’ve come to recognize that it takes time to meet the people you truly click with (and to build those relationships). Compared to high school or hometown friends, who you might have known for years, most freshmen are meeting each other for the first time. Most of you won’t know each other well, and it is unrealistic to expect to form deep and fulfilling friendships immediately. It is difficult to find the people you connect with at any stage of life, and college is no different.
My advice to combat loneliness is to first accept that friendships take time to build and are constantly in flux. We have all had our moments of loneliness, and your feelings are valid. Second, rather than focus on how to form a friend group, focus on making individual friends first. It is a lot easier said than done and probably the most cliche college advice ever, but it really does hold true: take a chance on asking someone to meet for lunch, even if you aren’t sure if you would be friends. Many times, it goes nowhere, but in a few cases, you can find someone you really connect with.
Finally, give yourself time. Trying to make friends and feel connected on campus can be draining, especially if you feel you are giving it your all with no payoff. Don’t be so hard on yourself and recognize that with time, you will have more opportunities to meet new people.
Ultimately, freshman year is only one out of the four years you have at Hopkins. I promise that there will be opportunities as a sophomore and upperclassman to continue to make new friends. A lot of people don’t find those who will become their closest friends during their freshman year. I definitely didn’t, and I regret putting pressure on myself to do so.
As you embark on your freshman year, I hope you have a great time and get to know and befriend your fellow Blue Jays. If you feel lonely, I assure you that you are not alone and that your freshman year social life does not determine the rest of your time at Hopkins.