College life comes with a wide array of exciting new opportunities, as well as many added pressures and the potential for high degrees of stress. One of the most common challenges faced by young adults attempting to navigate college life is socializing and maintaining quality friendships. Whether you have left behind everyone you have ever known, or you followed a few high school friends to a local college, you are sure to encounter new faces and find that your existing relationships face new obstacles along the way. Many people believe that college is the time when you are most likely to make friends that stick with you for the rest of your life. College allows for exploration, self-discovery, and time to assess what it is you expect from friendship, as well as what you are willing to give. Using the following tips can help you to enrich your college experience and set the foundation for a happier life.
Put Yourself Out There
In many ways, making friends is a lot like dating. You may want to find a few friends to hang out with, but you find yourself staying in your dorm or avoiding social events because of anxiety or fear of rejection. The only way to make new connections is to go out and experience the world around you. A college campus has so much to offer when it comes to opportunities to meet new people with common interests. Join a club, volunteer, or look for ways to get involved in campus organizations. Once you do make a connection with somebody, keep the ball rolling by saying “yes” to invites and making time for your friendship to grow.
Make the First Move
Again, it may sound like dating advice, but finding and maintaining friendship sometimes requires a little initiative. While a friendship should ideally find a balance of give and take, it is okay to make the first call, send the first text, or extend the first lunch invite. Even years into a friendship, it might take a little nudge to remind someone why they love spending time with you. Friendships can begin to fizzle out as life happens, and we acquire more responsibilities, so don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who may be wondering if they should reach out to you!
Many people worry too much about being interesting to others, instead of focusing on being interested. The truth is that most people want to be seen and heard, and meeting someone who is genuinely interested in what they have to say is attractive and refreshing. Asking questions to get to know someone better when you meet them is a great way to show them that you care about who they are. As time goes on, this practice helps you to become a better listener and friend even to those you have known for years.
Be of Service
Being of service of others is an excellent practice in life in general, but it can also help you to enrich your friendships and let important friends know how much they mean to you. While friendships in college usually start casually by going to campus events together or studying, eventually, your friend may need you on a deeper level. Offering to be there for a friend emotionally when they are struggling, helping them to get their grades up when classes get tough or teaching them a skill that they can use to improve their own lives, such as cooking, goes a long way in strengthening your bond. You might find that your friend is there for you in a time of need one day as well.
An essential part of any relationship is setting healthy boundaries, which includes being honest with yourself and others about what you want and how much you can juggle at once. Many college students find themselves overwhelmed with the pressures of maintaining a social life, and as a consequence, may see their grades begin to slip as their stress level rises. Maintaining healthy friendships requires balance, and putting your mental health first is always a legitimate reason to say “no.”
Stay True to Yourself
It may sound cliché, but staying true to who you are and maintaining your core values is very important when it comes to finding and keeping new friends. Attempting to make friends with people who are fundamentally different from you or that encourage you to participate in behavior that feels inauthentic will inevitably lead to problems for yourself and those around you. Follow your intuition when selecting who you want to allow access to your life, and let people go if they aren’t willing to respect your decisions.
Many college students find themselves using drugs and alcohol in social situations or in an attempt to make friends. This behavior can worsen mental health and may eventually lead to an addiction. If you believe you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help. At Burning Tree West, you will find a team of compassionate, knowledgeable professionals who specialize in helping young adults struggling with addiction and their families. Here, our clients tackle their addictions head-on and harness the power to restructure their lives in a way that fosters lasting sobriety. We believe that practicing recovery doesn’t have to mean an end to educational or career goals, but instead can become a fundamental part of a successful and fulfilling life. For more information on how we can help, call us now at 972-962-7374.