As a senior in high school, I was fortunate enough to get into one of my top choices for college. I was convinced that college would immediately be so much better than high school and that I would find so many amazing, lifelong friendships with like-minded people. As the summer before freshman year ended and the semester officially started, little did I know that I was in for a rude awakening.

I go to a small, rural school where it’s very hard to make friends on campus if you’re not friends with your freshman year roommate or people from your dorm. Once classes started, I had made a few “friends” who turned out to be two-faced and superficial. When sophomore year came around, I tried my best to not let negative experiences from the past deter me and made sure to make an effort to be open-minded. However, after seeing countless warm smiles or attempts to start conversations, I was met with disdainful scowls and apathy.

I just gave up on trying to fit in and decided to try to prioritize more important matters, such as academics. This seemed like a wise, sensible decision since while friends come and go, a good education stays with you for the rest of your life. This also proved to be easier said than done since gradually, I was growing increasingly angry and resentful towards everyone who I felt had hurt or rejected me. I became obsessed with dwelling over these failures and trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

Was it my overly ethnic-sounding name? My chipper nature?

Whatever it was, it was by no means justifiable and triggered back painful memories of middle school, an equally lonely, traumatic time of my life plagued by ruthless bullying and social exclusion. One of the many things that people had raved to me about college life was that people are much more mature, which I found difficult to believe based on the cliquey, juvenile behavior I was frequently being subjected to. Although it may sound like I’m playing the victim too much and overthinking these nasty experiences from the past, I’m really trying to make the best out of this situation by working on myself and figuring out who I really am. If there’s one positive thing that has come out of this experience is that I’ve developed a deep desire for friendships with non-superficial, non-judgemental, kind-hearted, genuine, and woke individuals.

I’ve also figured out friendships are the best quality over quantity and that there are people in my life that sincerely love and care for me are even if I can’t physically see or speak to them every day. If I could give advice to any incoming college freshman, it would be that college isn’t a make it or break it “best four years of your life.” It’s just another experience and stage of life, and the best is yet to come.