by Grace Armstrong
“Did you really think I wouldn’t recognize my college futon, with its trademark absence of sex stains”
-Liz Lemon (30 Rock)
Ever since I was little, I always thought college was this utopian mixture of the good parts of school, home and freedom: learning, “free” food, parties and no parents. I always thought that my college experience would be like it is on TV or what I heard from my older cousins. I thought I would be going to parties every night, have a huge friend group and get amped at sports game (I’m from Texas, partying and sports are sacred). Now of course every school is different and every person’s expectations are different, but I think we all share a common expectation: big groups of friends or a tight-knit close group of friends. That was the thing I was most excited about!
Personally, I didn’t really have a “huge” or “close” group of friends in high school, my senior class had only 13 people – including myself. I went to school with the same group of people every day for the past four years, and yes, it was just as – if not more – hellish as it sounds. It was impossible to not know everybody’s name, general personality and their relationship to everyone else. But this past month, I’ve experienced similar feelings of FOMO and isolation, but I realize that even being able to see new or semi-recurrent faces is refreshing, the fact that I don’t know anybody is a relief.
It can be hard to see all these amazing clubs and activities and feel like you aren’t doing college right. Especially because I felt like I experienced high school at lightspeed, I was immediately on the Social Events Committee, later Student Government and then heading our school’s GSA. My friends and teachers often joked that if they needed something, they’d just go straight to me. I had my first boyfriend three weeks into school, and a month later, we broke up (young love amiright?). I made my group of friends in my first weeks of school. Coming out of such an intense curricular and extra-curricular lifestyle with a set group of friends in Texas, all the way to New York City, was disorienting at first. During NSOP, I felt like I had to immediately know everyone in my grade, it felt downright strange not to know. I cried the first two days due to sheer culture shock, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But after a few days, I relished in all the new, interesting and beautiful people I saw everyday all around Morningside.
I know there are many wonderful women here on campus who come from all walks of life, so maybe I’m not the only person who feels this way; but I love the fact that I don’t know everyone. I learn and meet new people almost everyday, even if it’s just someone I’m sitting next to in class. I know that my own personal experience affects how I process change and isolation, but I hope that hearing my own perspective can help people look at their college experience from a different lens, and maybe help ease a lot of anxieties.
Grace Armstrong is a first-year at Barnard and contributor for Barnard Bite.