After a brief, tearful goodbye with my family on move-in day, I ventured to the quad with the other first-years to attend a fun welcome event.
There, I bonded with some new friends over popsicles, cornhole and spikeball. We formed a group chat so we could make plans together in the future, and promised to hang out later that night.
The unforgettable memories we'd share together over the next four years would inspire the stories I plan to tell my future kids when they ask me: “Mom, what was college like?”
I’ll recount fond memories of our weekly horror movie marathons, the times we rushed Franklin Street after a UNC basketball victory against Duke and our late-night runs to Time Out.
Of course, my first-year experience did not live up to these campy expectations. I soon realized that my preconceived notions about college were rather unrealistic. Within just a few weeks, the idealism that I brought to college during move-in day vanished.
Lonely. If I could encapsulate my freshman year into one word, that would be it.
At the risk of oversharing, I didn’t hit the friendship jackpot until relatively late in the year. As the semester progressed, friend groups solidified. I found it increasingly difficult to bond with anyone. I quickly became tired of putting myself out there, only to receive flaky, disinterested responses when I asked if someone wanted to hang out.
I realize now that I shouldn’t have beaten myself over my struggle to find “my people,” as my experience wasn't unique. A study by Psychology Today found that 64 percent of surveyed college students have reported feeling extremely lonely in the last year. Many attribute it to “unmet social expectations.”
College, however, was isolating in ways that superseded my social life. At UNC, everyone seemingly knew exactly what they wanted to pursue career-wise and had the exemplary grades they needed to do it post-graduation.