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Making Friends In And After College Is Hard


I am one of those people who says, “We should totally hangout!” Then if the person says yes, I have a mini-freakout because I assume they are just being polite and don’t mean it, so I never make plans with them. When did making friends get so hard?  I remember being a wee Emerald, around 4 or 5, protesting to my mother that I didn’t have anyone to play with.

She said, “Just say, ‘Hi, my name is Emmy,’do you want to be my friend?'” So that’s what I did, for years that was my tactic for gaining friends, I just asked. Then puberty hit and people got a lot meaner, so I became more selective with my friendships.

In secondary school, you’re just around people your age all the time. You almost have to be friends to prevent yourself from having a mental breakdown. You’re in such close proximity and following the same schedule for months, you just organically become friends. When I got to college this wasn’t the case. I think a lot of people make this mistake, and I made it, of just hanging out with whoever was around me freshman year. These were my roommates and floormates. I didn’t have much in common with them, we didn’t even really find the same things funny. It was a bad match but I liked being a part of a group and after a few weeks everyone seemed to have settled into their own groups.

I was scared that if I broke away from them, I’d just end up being alone. Although being around people who I had no connection with was pretty lonely. I ended up transferring from Sarah Lawrence to NYU after three semesters for multiple reasons.

NYU was different, while SLC had 1500 total students, NYU had 30,000. There was no campus. There was just NYC. NYU is infamous for not building community or getting kids together so it was even harder to make friends there. It felt like you were competing with the city. It also seemed like I was late to the game—I was a transfer student and all the other kids had already made friends.

You’d meet cool people in your classes, chat as your exiting, then never seen them again until next class. How do you turn that into a friendship? It’s not that I didn’t or don’t have any friends. I am from NYC so I was lucky to already have a support system even if it was off campus. How do you make friends in college? 

I heard similar complaints about not knowing how to foster friendships from so many of my peers but I don’t think any of us realized the solution was as easy as my mom made it sound: just ask.

It was a struggle and it still is to just ask someone to hang out. To get a drink. To go out to brunch. It feels like there is all this pressure or because you don’t know the person all the well, you don’t know if they’re at all interested in being your friend.

After graduation you’re around even less people your age. There are less opportunities to have friendships evolve organically because everyone you meet is met in passing at some rando party, some bar, some event. You’re not just going to run into the people you have a good chat with again. So you have to sort of cling onto them. Cling onto their coolness. Not in a creepy way. But you have to say, hey, we’re the coolest, let’s form an alliance via Facebook.

It’s so easy, yet so hard. Maybe it’s just me. I have more than one acquaintances who I could probably be biffles with but we’re just too flakey to make plans. So when we happen to see each other, it’s great and we say, “We should totally hangout again soon!” Then months go by.

So, from here on out CC readers, I promise you that I will be less flakey about friendships. I ain’t getting younger and time is fleeting. Any tips on how to make friends would be appreciated in the comments.

    Emerald is an editor at CollegeCandy, lover of coffee, and pretend francophile. After studying writing and popular culture at NYU she decided to be a grownup and get a job. Tweet at ya' girl @EmeraldGritty.