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Reader: I’m #new2OSU and really want to make new friends. Any advice on where to start?
Ogonna: Before I start, you might want to grab some crackers to soup up the cheesiness that will be oozing out of this post. You’ve been warned.
Step one to making new friends: Be authentically yourself.
Step two: There is no step two.
Think about it. What’s the point of trying to be someone you’re not just to find friends who only like you for being someone else? Sooner or later, the truth will reveal itself and you’ll get tired of putting on a facade. To me, it makes sense to stay true to yourself, to own your weirdness in all its glory, to be proud about your eclectic music taste – or in my case, obsession with High School Musical and Beyoncé. By doing this, you’ll attract those people who already like you for you. Isn’t that what we all look for in a friend anyway? Trust me, even if you’re a self-proclaimed hot mess like me, you are not alone. We come in packs — you’ve just got to look.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a difference between not staying true to yourself and simply trying out new things. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that college is a time for growth and change, a place where you become who you’re supposed to be and find companionship along the way. So then, if you’re still finding out who you are, how can you authentically be yourself?
You know yourself better than anyone, so use your strengths to your advantage. If you’re on the quieter side but play a mean game of Madden, post on your door or on a Facebook page inviting people to play with you. On the other hand, if you’re naturally outgoing and bubbly, don’t hesitate to invite people with you to grab a bite to eat or watch a movie.
It’s easiest to start new friendships on a similarity of hobbies, but I think the best way to bond is to be vulnerable. I still get chills at the topic of vulnerability, but I can’t deny that it’s one of the most important foundations of any type of relationship. You don’t have to wear your heart out on your sleeve or read your diary to the public. But vulnerability could even mean sharing funny stories or inside jokes from your pre-college life, or discussing your hopes and fears of college.
A lot of people may be scared to think or act differently than others, but I think this diversity is key to building lasting relationships. Sometimes our differences bring the best out of one another. By being different, we have the opportunity to challenge and positively influence each other in how we go about our daily lives and interact with other people. We get to make a change in another person’s life simply by reaching out for friendship, and that’s a pretty awesome experience to partake in.
I admit that there is not a lot of radical, life-changing advice I can give on being true to yourself and facing fears of making new friends – at least nothing you probably haven’t heard before. But my hope is that this serves as a gentle reminder that making friends in college is like taking a really cool road trip. You might get lost. You might run out of energy. You will make mistakes. You will learn from them. You will have amazing successes. You will cry and laugh and yell and dance and be utterly ridiculous at times. You will find people who are traveling the same road as you are. And when you do that, you will most definitely find your way home.
And now, I shall leave you with a classy quote by none other than the classiest poet of our childhood years. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Today, you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!”
And you, my friend, are a very cool person.
(Especially now that you are a Buckeye.)