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(Lola Fadulu)– We’ve all heard stories about married couples who met in college. I can’t speak for everyone, but I definitely know that in the back of my mind I’ve wondered whether or not my future companion is here on campus. Have I met him yet?
Just like several of my other friends, I developed a girlish crush on a freshman boy that I knew next to nothing about. Whenever I went out, I scanned the crowds for him in hopes of being able to appreciate his beauty, if only for a second. I daydreamed out loud with my new friends about the potential blossoming of a romantic relationship. But disappointment crept into me when I took a break from talking about him and instead listened to my friends share about their own crushes. They were so frustrated that they weren’t being noticed, or that their hints weren’t being recognized. I noticed how preoccupied their minds were with these enigmatic crushes. I started recognizing my own sentiments in them and began to realize how silly all of this was. We were at Amherst, for goodness sake. There are so many resources and opportunities available to us and, yet, we were focusing on romantic relationships. Why had we fallen victim to these unnecessary distractions?
For some of us, college seems like the perfect place to finally have a real relationship. Maybe it didn’t work out in high school because our peers were immature or not on the same intellectual wavelength. Perhaps cultural differences or a lack of racial or socioeconomic diversity in our respective high schools acted as barriers to potential relationships. But there was no excuse for not finding a companion in college – especially at Amherst. I mean, we had to have something in common, if only that we had all chosen Amherst to continue our higher education. That had to say something. But freshmen, we need to realize that we’ve only been here for a little over a month. That’s a really short amount of time.
College, especially freshman year, is about crafting our identities and then turning around and loving that identity. For most of us, this is the first time that our personhoods have truly been put to the test. This new environment is the test to see if they have enough strength to last or if they will crumble. Will you continue to shine and be yourself, or will you shrink and subdue your current personality in hopes of finding a new and improved one? I think that these are the more important concepts that we as freshmen should be focusing on. But, for those of you who know exactly who you are, or have a pretty good grasp of who you are, you may want to share it with someone else. You may be so proud of your persona that you want to hand it over to another and say, “Look at my creation. Ya dig?”. There is something fresh and exciting about another being appreciating who you are. I completely understand. But do realize that it takes time. You can’t go around shoving your personality into people’s faces in hopes that they’ll accept you and admire you romantically. I mean, I’m sure it works for some people but for others, it’s weird and may make you appear “thirsty”. Focus instead on simply crafting friendships. I recommend removing ulterior motives. So how do you do that? No worries, I got you.
Go out in public, without your cellphone or any type of electronic device (it makes you look unapproachable. I mean, when’s the last time you felt comfortable interrupting someone who was texting on the quad? Exactly.). A healthy alternative is perhaps a book, a journal, or nothing. I love approaching people who are reading on the quad. Sorry, not sorry. There’s definitely an unwritten rule that states that if you’re sitting out on the quad, in the open, you want to be approached. But you don’t have to approach anyone. Just sit yourself down in those fun green chairs and observe your surroundings. Relax and feel the cool air that passes over you. I guarantee that you’ll have some interpersonal connections with others – whether it’s eye contact accompanied with a smile or even an introduction. In my opinion, these instances are more meaningful than short superficial conversations. Let’s say, while you’re sitting there, a Frisbee flies over and hits you in the head (hopefully, it wasn’t intentional). Pick that Frisbee up and toss it back to one of the players. If you’re feeling gutsy, ask to play. You don’t necessarily have to socialize to play. You’ll end up becoming curious about something and wham, bam, the conversations spill over. Trust me, this is how it works. Embrace the lulls of socializing as well as the highs.
Sooner or later, you’re going to develop some awesome friendships. Don’t let your anxiety paralyze you but also don’t try to “hurry love”. There are plenty of interesting people on campus with different personality types and habits. You’ll find a friend or maybe even two. And who knows, maybe those friendships that you solidify during your freshman year will evolve into committed romantic relationships in the upcoming years. Don’t fret.