As you embark on your first year of college and throughout your college career, you will find that you are entering a whole new territory. Gone are the days of popularity contests and cliques. It’s an amazing time to learn about who you are, to tap into all that potential you had sown in high school and to start making that mark on the world that you always thought about. So it’s important to stay true to yourself, to explore the world around you and to be open to meeting new people and doing different things.
Why is it so easy to do your own thing and to stay true to who you are in college? One reason is the power of choice. You have so many options in college to explore in the way of courses, activities, sports, Greek or not Greek, and even on-campus jobs that you will be hard-pressed to find a place where you don’t feel comfortable. And if you don’t find a group that shares your interests, you can work with your student life department to start one and recruit others like you.
Another reason is that once people hit college, “being cool” or being popular is just not as important. The end goal of your experience the next three or more years is to enjoy your new freedom (reasonably!) and to figure out the next chapter in your life. The culture changes dramatically from an homogenous one to one where being more unique and having your own voice is welcomed and encouraged.
It’s hard for many people to figure out just how to start making this journey of discovery of the self. An easy first step is to look at a list of clubs and organizations and find a few that peak your interest. Attend a meeting or two and see if it’s your scene – and don’t worry if your expectations aren’t met or you don’t feel 100% sure. You have plenty of other organizations and activities to explore. Another way to expand your horizons is to do something different that you’ve never done before. Maybe you have never even thought of playing volleyball, but with a few practice sessions may actually be decent and enjoy it as an intramural sport. Also, things are constantly happening around campus – a play here, a speaker there, a match or game at any given time. Grab some friends and check them out for something different and enriching. You just might meet others or learn about opportunities to be involved with the organizations putting on these events.
And finally, be open to meeting new people. Sounds kind of cliché, but every day gives you a chance to practice meeting new people. Actually participate in dorm or floor activities, start a study group with people you get along with in class or befriend someone in the cafeteria sitting alone that you see all the time. I’ve found that often times the events and activities that require a team effort or that are founded on a shared interest or proximity often harbor unexpectedly amazing friendships. Meeting new and different people can help you learn different perspectives and learn something about yourself in the process.