College Friendships Are Tricky. I’m Still Searching For My Tribe.

It's not always easy to break out of your shell, and that's ok

I was hanging out at my high school best friend’s house this summer when I noticed that she wouldn’t put her phone down. At first I ignored this, assuming she was just playing a game or looking something up but then, she accepted a FaceTime from her college best friend.

As someone who tries to refrain from using her phone when I am spending face to face time with someone, I was offended. I felt hurt and betrayed. Would my best friend prefer to talk to her college friends than spend time with me? I knew that this idea was crazy but it didn’t make the pain sting any less. When I got home I did some self-reflection to find the real source of my anger.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m so incredibly proud of my high school best friend for breaking out of her shell and having a group of people at her university that love and accept her just as much as I do. But, another part of me was, and still is, jealous of my best friend because I don’t have that supportive group of friends at college.

I have yet to find my college “family”.

I suppose that I had a typical first year of college experience, at least for the first few months. I entered college, immediately found a group of friends, and assumed that that was it, I was set for the next four years. However, around the end of October that group began to slowly fall apart. We stopped hanging out as much as we used to, my friends began to become more involved in their clubs, and we all started to pick fights with each other. Before I knew it, my friend group had fallen apart and I was the only one left wondering what happened.

For the rest of the year, I struggled to make friends.

I became less and less confident in myself. I spent most of my time either going to class or hiding in my dorm. I joined a sorority but didn’t go to any events unless they were mandatory. I even started saying no to going to movies or the beach because I felt like I was only being invited as a second thought, one that had been passed over until I crawled out of my mass of blankets and pillows to the real world.

As the school year ended and I headed home for the summer, I was relieved, thinking that I would at least have my high school friends to depend upon. But they spent the summer telling me stories about their college friendships and all the crazy adventures they had together. Meanwhile, I had nothing to share. I had a story here and there but nothing that screamed to them that I had a solid friend group at college.

I confronted my best friend about this and her advice was to start talking to people in my classes. This is good advice, but I had already tried that. I talked to people in class and asked them to hang out but the conversation only went as far as loose plans, nothing definitive.

That’s when I did some serious self-evaluation.

I had to make a change with how I handled my relationships. I needed to push myself outside of my comfort zone. As the school year approached, I was both excited about and dreaded going back.

I knew that this year meant another chance to make friends and grow as a person. But, it also meant that I had to seriously work hard at improving my situation.

In the two weeks that I have been back, although I haven’t found my group of best friends, I have solidified some of the college friendships that I had at the end of Freshman year. I’ve made myself hang out with a friend even if they were already with another group of people (something that usually intimidates me), I’ve jumped out of my comfort zone and gone to events that I normally wouldn’t go to, and I’ve even been asking my friends to confirm us hanging out days in advance, several times if I have to.

As the school year slowly starts up again, I am making it my personal goal to make a group of friends but to also let it happen naturally. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and that the universe has a plan for you. So, I’m going to push myself to get out of the comforts of my bedroom. I’m going to push myself to make plans with my acquaintances and try my best to follow through with them. And most importantly, I am going to push myself to ensure that no matter what happens or who I become friends with, my self-confidence never falters.


Also published on Medium.

Hailey Pryce-Shidler is a Sophomore at Chapman University where she...