After spending the fall semester at home, I thought I would come back to college to find everything the same. Instead, I was wrong. I thought that just like I did before, I would love all of my classes. I thought I would walk around campus all the time and feel the enormous school spirit that I always felt before.
Like before, I thought that I would see my friends almost every single day and we would tell each other everything.
What I didn’t expect was to feel disconnected from the people I considered my best friends in college. In our little group, I was the only one who stayed home during the fall semester. All of them returned to campus and continued with their college life regularly.
While they were hanging out together and making new memories without me, I was in my hometown living with my parents. My time at home wasn’t bad—it was far from it. I got to see my parents more, hang out with my grandma and cousins, as well as see my childhood best friends.
However, while I was connecting with my home life, college kept going on. So let me tell you a secret: your college friends’ lives continue without you.
That means they will make new friends. They will live things that they won’t tell you about. That means the little friend group might grow closer—and you weren’t part of it.
Coming back to college, I slowly started understanding all the things that I missed. Step by step, I started learning what had happened while I was away. I learned who hooked up with who, who ended their relationship, who got an amazing job offer and many other stories that happened while I was gone.
I also realized that I am not the only one who had to adapt after returning. My friends also have to get used to my presence again. While they seemed extremely excited to see me (the first two days of catching up were extremely fun), soon I saw them falling back into a routine that didn’t include me anymore.
The two friends that I had by my side all the time had now created a new bond that didn’t include me. Before I left, the three of us told each other everything. We were like the three musketeers; where one went, the other two would go too. But apparently, now three had become two. They now share secrets that they don’t share with me.
They now make plans that don’t include me.
A mutual friend used to always invite the three of us to hang out at his house. Now, he seems to always forget that I exist too, only inviting me last minute or when someone else says that I should come along with them.
All of that made me wonder: should I keep trying to insert myself in the scene or should I, as a second-semester sophomore, try to build friendships all over again?
At home, I was able to participate in clubs and talk to many people I didn’t know before. As a consequence, I grew closer to people outside of my main friend group, something that I am certain I wouldn’t have done if I had stayed at home.
And now, back at university, I’ve gotten the chance to meet both my virtual friends, as well as hang out more with the friends I met freshman year.
I can say that I was glad that freshman year me was smart enough to make other friends outside of my main friend group. These friends are the ones who have kept me company most of the time since I came back, as well as the people I met online during my at-home semester.
I still want to connect with my old group of friends. They are nice people and I don’t want to lose contact with them. But I am also not going to force my way if they don’t want me in. For anyone who is also struggling with adapting back to the college environment, just be patient. With time, you will start finding your niche again.