Navigating college friendships as an introvert

A student describes her struggle to make friends during her first semester at Temple.


I realized I actually don’t have college friends. When I first realized this, I couldn’t help but feel lonely.

A few weeks ago, some of my friends from my hometown came to visit me at Temple. It was nice because, like any other Sunday, I wasn’t planning on doing anything except sleeping, going to the gym, listening to a sermon and doing homework. 

We explored Center City, checked out the Liberty Bell, took pictures in front of the fountain near City Hall and ate at Five Guys. I had so much fun. 

But when they started telling me I could experience Center City with my new college friends because it’s so easy to get there from Main Campus, I was upset by the realization that I hadn’t made any new friends.

During the first two weeks of school, the students who live on my residence hall floor agreed we should keep all of the doors open, which made me optimistic about making friends. But the majority of the doors remained closed, and somehow many of the girls were already bonding behind those closed doors. 

I talked to some of the girls on my floor, but it seemed like they already made solid relationships with each other. 

As an introvert, the friendships I make are ones that fall into place naturally. I don’t go out of my way to meet people. Was that going to cripple my college life?

Upperclassmen I’ve met and my friends back home say that all the haphazard friendships I’m witnessing now are superficial, but I still can’t help but think there is something wrong with me. During those first weeks of college, I felt like I was missing a part of an equation that would get me to feel just a fraction of what others were feeling — happiness. 

I wondered what it was like to have someone to sit with at the dining hall, people to study with and friends to talk to in a group chat. 

I thought going to college would help me meet my new group of best friends and become extremely content with my social circle like I saw on social media and in movies. But that isn’t the case.

The reality is that college, at least during the first few weeks, is not socially rewarding to introverts and homebodies.  

I fought an inner battle with myself because I’m not someone who urgently needs to make friends. I just don’t like rushing into friendships. I was overwhelmed when I realized so many people were in solid groups of friends so quickly. 

There’s so much pressure on college students, especially freshmen, to immediately make lots of friends. And we put this pressure on each other. 

It’s like we need to instantaneously bond with strangers by going out and partying. I could make friends by doing that. I could make the effort, whatever that means, to make friends. But I’m not going to chase people who won’t make the effort to invite me to events, parties and anything else. 

I could compromise my morals by smoking, drinking and vaping — things I’ve never done —  to make “friends.” I could change myself and become accustomed to these things. But people don’t want to be my friend when I’m sober, and risking my health doesn’t seem like it’s worth a shot at companionship.

When my younger brothers asked if I’ve attended a Temple football game yet, I said “no,” and they teased me. I always defended myself by saying, “When I have friends, I’ll go.” 

I still haven’t been to a football game. I just want to be with people who I can be myself around, and I haven’t found those people here yet. 

Do I know who I am? Yes. But am I comfortable with who I am? No. 

Once I admitted this to myself, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I finally realized to enjoy my college experience and find my people, I need to be happier with myself first. I don’t have to care about what others think or change myself because the right crowd will accept me for me. 

Because of the loneliness, I felt at the beginning of the semester, I turned to student organizations to meet people with similar interests. I joined the Global Studies Society, the Pre-Law Society and the Society of Emerging African Leaders. Because of these clubs, I get to spend a few hours a week surrounded by people who appreciate my intellect.

Most importantly, I’m now at peace with being introverted and the way I make friends.

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