by Sherin George
As a quiet and somewhat timid person, I found the idea of starting all over and creating a new social circle at UTD frightening. I was worried that I wouldn’t make friends, and that my college experience would therefore be miserable. After summer orientation, my fears of being alone at UTD grew stronger. Would it take me years to make long lasting friendships, as it did during high school? Would being a commuter prevent me from connecting with others? How would I cope with loneliness?
I learned within my first week at UTD that every new student has this sense of uncertainty. All of us question how UTD will change us, who we’ll become in relation to others, and if we’ll be satisfied. College awards us a blank slate, and although that freedom can be anxiety inducing, it’s also liberating, and it unites us as Comets. The awareness that we can reinvent and redefine ourselves gives us the courage to grow, intellectually and emotionally.
It also makes us more willing to be vulnerable with others. In high school, most of us worried about ranks, hierarchies, leagues, and rejection. At UTD, high school is a thing of the past; perhaps remembered fondly, but not idolized, and certainly not repeated. The sooner we lose this high school mentality of association and remaining within our comfort zone, the easier making friends becomes.
I’m not the most social person, but I’ve managed to create meaningful bonds with people each day I’ve been here, simply by being more open with others. I’ve learned it’s okay to strike up a conversation with strangers. It’s okay to talk to your quiet neighbor in class, to smile at people you recognize, to ask for phone numbers, to pursue relationships with people who aren’t usually your “type”. No one will judge you for wanting to connect with them, so don’t let your fears of rejection and awkwardness stop you from experiencing those wonderful moments of understanding and comradery.
In short, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and friendship will become inevitable.