University was an extremely turbulent time for me. I feel like I may have made some poor choices, but the good thing is that I can look back and see why my train got wrecked. Late teens and early twenties is a weird time where most people are still trying to figure out who they are. Some people already have that figured out. Congratulations on being a well-rounded self-aware human. Let us slobs work on ourselves.
I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be, but they make such a big deal of “college friends” as if you meet your “college friends” in first year and they’re supposed to be your friends for your entire university career, and they’ll be the ones you’re friends with for the rest of your life. Sure, that can happen and it’s not a bad thing if it does. But it’s not a bad thing if it doesn’t. Finding your tribe can be difficult.
I had the wrong approach to making my friends. I sought out people who I wanted to be like (but knew I wasn’t like), and tried to fit in with them. Sure, we got along fine. We had no classes together, but we were buds. But I always felt like an outcast with them because, guess what! I wasn’t like them. We had different interests and habits and vibes. My main regret about university is not making more friends in my own department. Shockingly, that’s where you find the weirdos who are into the same stuff as you! In fact, I ended up befriending way more people from the English department after graduating because we kinda gravitated to each other. Because we like the same stuff.
A huge problem I faced (but was very bad at realizing it was a problem) was that I kept making friends who tried to mold me into versions of themselves. I suppose Uni!Nik was very malleable because I was so willing to become someone else instead of growing into myself. But I got lost in efforts to be more like some next person. I can’t stress how important it is to just be yourself. You. Your actual self. You are enough.
If I were to do it all over again, I would abide by these rules:
- Be yourself. Anyone who doesn’t want to be around your authentic self can fuck right off.
- Try to be friends with everyone. Yes people in your department is a great place to start, but mingle with everyone and find peeps who dig what you dig.
- Drop anyone who condescends to you. This is especially important for people studying the arts. Don’t let people, especially “friends,” tell you that what you study isn’t important, isn’t difficult, or isn’t worthwhile.
- Participate in a thing like class rep, clubs, plays, or whatever extracurricular teeters your totter.
- Bake a pie. I did this in first year res and offered slices to people on my floor. They’d come, have some pie, we’d chat and get to know each other. It was a great plan. 10/10 would do again.