Let us talk about being social in college. This is important! Yes, being a good student and studying so you can do well is even more important, but so is having a social live. There are numerous reasons for this. Today I will talk about just a few of the more important reasons. So, let us get started shall we.
First off, I should probably give you all some background on my social life so that you will see where I am coming from in terms of my social life. As a child and up into my young adult life, I was shy and did not make friends easily. Yes, I was in numerous extracurricular activities in school, but that does not equal being social. On the whole I tried to keep to myself because I had issues with some of the other students picking on me since I was the “smart kid” and I never really told anyone about it because when I did it got worse for a bit. My mother always told me that they only picked on me because they knew it bothered me. As long as I ignored them it seemed to be manageable. Part of my problem may have, and probably still does when it comes to the random moments of social awkwardness that I still experience, come from the fact that I am the youngest of 10 children. Yeah you read that correctly. I have 9 siblings and a plethora of nieces and nephews. Because my oldest sibling is in his 50’s and the next closest in age to me, that is still living, is in his 30’s, there I have mostly be around adults. Since most of my siblings have children and some of their children have children, I have also had a lot of dealings with little kids. This is probably the reason that most people that are around my age view me as being ridiculously mature for my age. On the flip side, people that are older than me seem to think that I am too childish because I still enjoy things from my childhood like Pokémon and various other anime, cartoons, and games. That has turned out to be a good thing though since I connect with little kids and my nieces and nephew seem to think of me as the “cool aunt” and my cousins think I am pretty cool too because I will play games with them, watch cartoons with them, run around the park, and even go to concerts with them. In high school when I was thrust into a group of four different grade levels from the entire city I was kind of at a loss as to what to do with myself. It did not help that when I was in 4th grade my older brother, he was a teenager at the time, shot himself in the basement bathroom of my grade school. That was the first time that the death of a person had really hit me hard. Because he was close to my age we got along really well, not that I do not get along with my other siblings. That we the first time I had seem my brother Robert get mad like that, throwing his keys, kicking his VW van, and what have you. However, a friend of mine had asked me to go to church with her a few mouths before and I had been going there for a bit. This turned out to be a good thing because I had a good support network, small though it was because of how shy I was at the time. I still go to that church and if you are wondering why I am bringing this up, here is why. In high school I had a few good friends, but I still got tormented about being the “smart kid” at times by the same kinds from junior high. However, there was always one boy outside of my friends that whenever I saw him in the hallway or in line at lunch he always said “hello” to me. I think, I am not sure since I am not in his brain, that he probably recognized me as someone from church and that was why he talked to me when he saw me in the hall. Maybe it was because it seemed like every time that I saw him I was having a bad day and I looked stressed out and that I needed someone to acknowledge my existence, I have no idea what it was that made him say hello, but he did. His name is Brett. I sometimes sit over by him and his wife at church, she is an amazing photographer by the way and if you live in northern Oklahoma and need someone to take pictures she is your girl. Turns out, when I went out to dinner with a group of friends, him and his wife were with us, he asked if I had always been a quiet person. Well, I was until someone actually acknowledged me in the hallway in high school. That was when I started to be more talkative and actually started gaining more friends. So, if you are reading this for some odd reason Brett, thank you for just saying “hello” to me in high school. It meant a lot to me then to have someone acknowledge my existence outside of my small group of friends.
Was I social when I went off to college and then to university? Well, yes and no. I was certainly more social than I was when I was a little kid. I started at Cottey College right out of high school, and I mean right out of high school because I took summer classes online, I only had one friend that was even going there with me. There was another girl from my school, but she was more of a classmate than a friend. My friend that was there was in a different dorm and we didn’t see each other that often. So, I was effectively on my own when I actually got to move into my dorm room that August. In my suite there were ten girls, two of which were from Sweden, two from Texas, one from Chicago, one from Michigan, one from Montana, one from Malawi, one from Missouri, and then me. Of them, only one was a returning student. Despite us going through some sticky spots due to our differences, we all got along pretty well and I still talk to some of those girls from my first year. My second year was a whole other story. That year was filled with drama deluxe. However, I still talk to a lot of my friends there from Cottey. I was more involved in other activities and have far more friends from the University of Central Oklahoma where I was in a much smaller academic department that was closer knit than a two year “finishing school” like college.
Now on to what this post is actually about. Probably the most important reason to actually be social in college is, this could possibly be taken as being shallow and I assure you that I do not mean it to be but I will go ahead and say it, networking for the future. Think about it logically. The people that you will ultimately hang out with are your best friends from high school and your college friends. Who are you going to turn to when you need to get a job? You are going to ask your friends if they know of anyone hiring in the area you are in or wanting to go, you put them down for references on applications, and you may end up working for them. As sad as it is, the old saying of it isn’t what you know it’s who you know when it comes to getting a job is very true. I ran into this at a place I used to work at. The management just handed jobs over to their friends without following their own policies and I was overlooked for jobs that I was more qualified for in favour of the management hiring their buddies. Thankfully, I do not have to deal with that anymore. So, be nice to your friends as they will most likely end up helping you in some way when it comes to the job market.
Everyone goes through some rough patches in their life and I am no exception. Thankfully, I have had always had a good support network. How did I get this support network? Well, at first it was just my family and it has since grown. However, these people did not just pop up out of nowhere. No, I actually had to go out and make friends. That’s right. I had to be social. Thankfully, being social at university becomes a bit easier than in high school. In college you have a vast number of people that don’t really know everyone and they are pretty much in the same boat as you. So, don’t be afraid to just go up and talk to someone in the hall between classes or in the department while you are waiting to talk to a professor. Also, universities generally have a greater number of extracurricular activities and clubs to join than your average high school because of the sheer number of students they have. Some of which are from completely different countries and their interests tend to vary a great deal. By joining a club or any other student group allows you to make friends that share the same interest as you. At the University of Central Oklahoma I joined Chess and Games Club, Medieval Society, and the Philosophy Symposium group. These people have been there for me through a lot. They are some of my closest friend that I have. I talk to them all the time. I probably would be a lot more stressed out if I did not have their support.
Reason number three, and this will be the last one on this already ridiculously long post, is that it can actually help with your grades. *gasp* Really?! You have to be kidding me. Nope, I am serious. When you think about it this really does make sense. Since most of your friends that you make are going to be in classes and most likely have the same major, at least have a minor in the field you are studying, you will most likely call them for help if you cannot get a hold of your professors. Also, who are you going to ask to be in your study groups? Your friends. Most of the time my friends and I had study groups at either a coffee shop, the library, or a restaurant of some kind. Usually a pizza place or a place that was open 24/7 because we sometimes stayed there until about 2 or 3 in the morning. If it was a coffee shop it was either a Starbucks or one of the local coffee shops that actually liked having college students there. Your friends can also help you get over your nervousness about presenting a paper because you can read it allowed to them. Just be sure to tell them to correct you if they find something wrong with it. They are your friends they are not going to criticize you just for laughs. When you actually study you tend to do better in your classes. Just saying. I mean some of the classes that I took at university I could not have made it through had it not been for my friends.
To sum things up since this post was really long, making friends and being social has a lot of perks in terms of your happiness, health, employment, and your grades. Friends can help you out of a lot of sticky situations. Just remember, that lovely quote by the wonderful C.S. Lewis.