I took a semester off the Fall before last and returned last Spring. I have never gotten back into my rhythm and feel disconnected from my old friends and am having trouble making new ones. it doesn’t help that I’m terribly shy–most of my friends I made at NSOP… and they came to me. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for enriching my social life?
Lonely and Not a First-Year
I know it can feel a lot like you’re alone here at Barnard, but you’re probably less disconnected than you think. Barnard has a very interesting way of making people feel a bit isolated from each other, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’re taught to be independent here in a way that is very different from other colleges. It’s completely normal here to eat alone at the Diana and you don’t see girls traveling in packs from class to class. While this can be a really good thing, it also means that it’s harder for students to feel connected when they need to be. (And trust me, you’re not the only one having this trouble.) I’d say step one would be to try your best to rekindle old friendships. Instead of going out with a group of friends, try going out one-on-one. That way you can really have conversations, be filled in on what you missed, and you won’t be surrounded by girls retelling inside jokes and old stories, like “hey, remember that time at Canon’s…” or “remember when we never did our homework…” which can be overwhelming and kind of disheartening to hear. Keep in mind though, while it’s great to share stories about your time abroad, don’t get caught up in it! Listen too, find out what been going on on campus and in your circle of friends. You have missed things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up!
Step two, reach out to new people! And you know what they say, nothing brings two people together like a common enemy. Be it your upcoming economics exam or a particularly brutal professor, nothing unites Barnard girls like homework. Don’t be afraid to approach a few girls in your class, offer to organize a study group or edit each others’ papers. Even if you don’t exactly work “together” you can still study in the same place. That way, if you stumble across something in a reading you that you don’t understand, you’ll have someone to talk it through with. And when you decide to take a study break and watch like a million youtube videos in a row, you’ll discover you have more in common than an annoying problem set.
I know it can be hard at first to reach out to people, especially if you’re just naturally shy, so let me end by arming you with something solid: You’re not the only one! I can guarantee you almost every student at Barnard has felt the way you feel at some point in her time here, it’s just a natural part of the atmosphere of the college and the city itself. So when you reach out to someone, chances are she’ll understand where you’re coming from and be open to making a new friend, too! Keep this in mind, and take a chance! What’s the worst that can happen?
Good luck Lonely, you’ll be great!
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