I watched all the movies about college. The ones that extremely romanticize that beautiful summer before college, the time of your life. Well, as a COVID high school graduate, I spent my whole summer in masks and my only outing consisted of a weekly cautious trip to the grocery store. Other than that, I spent my time binging every anime Netflix offered to me or making a make-believe life through the Sims 4. At first, I felt excited, never needing to mentally prepare myself to walk through the crowded halls of my high school again or see the hundreds of kids in my high school I never had to speak to anyone again. As time went on, I craved social interaction. I missed being in my classes. I could jump for joy to give another painfully awkward presentation in front of my class about the French Revolution.
So instead of romanticizing my summer, I depended on my first year in college to be the change I needed.
After a semester of online classes and working five days a week at a local restaurant I saved up enough money to finally move out to New York City and start being a real NYU student. The months of buildup made me believe that within the first week of moving there I would meet people I would call my best friends, boast an impeccable sense of fashion and eat some of the best food I ever tasted. As cliche as it sounds, I really thought college would change me, or really, I hoped it did. As one can imagine, it did nothing of the sort.
I thought I would meet new people left and right, and go out all night and all day.
Reality hit me with a slap in the face. I worked 30 hours a week to even afford to stay in the city and all my other time got spent trying to keep up with my classes where no one so much as looked at one another. I told myself I didn’t possess time to go out or that I couldn’t buy clothes or eat out because I needed to save money. I began spiraling: what else do I hope for now? That just didn’t turn out to be true, though. When I scooped up some spare time, I just spent it binging more anime on Netflix or building a new house in Minecraft only to show it off on an NYU discord with students who loved to stay in.
I realized as I talked to people, and made meaningful connections, it just didn’t look like Gossip Girl.
Granted, I did still want to go out to parties or go clubbing at a local spot—but I didn’t go. I got invited to go, but I bailed almost every time I made a plan. Yet, I still found a way to blame anyone but myself. I needed to let go of what I thought college life looked like to truly appreciate the community I joined and the fun times I experienced. We hosted weekly Netflix-party movie nights and online game nights. We tried thrifting once and realized it didn’t feel right for us. Eventually I developed a great group of friends all by chance. All it takes is the courage to try.