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It’s 10 p.m. and I am done with my homework. I open my web browser and go to Facebook. My chat bar is up, and a friend from Arizona is online. I click on his name, start a conversation, and I immediately realize that something is off. He isn’t really responding to me. He’s speaking like a caveman with a lot of web-grunts. I’m telling you that if you met this kid in person, the guy never stops talking. He’ll tell you his life story if you sit with him long enough. But a list of other things would be far more productive than trying to converse with him tonight. I finally log off without saying goodbye and feel nothing but empty sorrow lodged in my throat.
It’s been like this for a while –- longer than I would like to admit. When I first decided to transfer, my friends and I talked about how we would keep in contact constantly. It would be as if I was there, in Arizona. I would be going to visit all the time. They would road trip to Colorado. Nothing would change.
Now, time stretches between the times that we talk and the only reminders I have of my life in Arizona are my photo albums and the names still stored in my contacts list. It’s been weeks and I haven’t heard a word from some of them. Some promise to call and then never do.
Sound familiar to anyone?
Things change in college. Everyone knows this. Change is so ingrained in the human psyche that I don’t even need to elaborate. We know things change, and yet we fight it. Maybe we don’t really want to know if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
Twice now, I’ve made large transitions, and I feel pretty confident admitting that I’m no better at it than I was my freshman year. But I’ve learned a couple of tactics to get through it a little bit more smoothly:
The most important thing to remember, is that you are entitled to enjoy your new life, whatever it looks like. You made this choice for you, so live it for you.
Get out of your dorm and meet new people. Join clubs and intramurals. Chat up the people who sit next to you in class, and make it a point to sit next to someone new every day. Smile at everyone you pass. Reach out to people.
Feel free to be sad. Feel free to miss your friends and the times you had with them. When a relationship ends, it is a huge loss, no matter the circumstance or the reason. Take care of yourself as if you had just broken up with someone. Throw yourself into your school work. Exercise. Sing sappy show-tunes really loud in the shower. Treat yourself to luxuries like going out for coffee or reading a novel you really like. Listen to music. Make plans and move forward with deliberation and purpose. Take your time.
If you want to try to maintain some of your old relationships, by all means go for it. If you’re an out-of-state student, plan for one day a week when you Skype your friends. Bless modern technology because it makes it so easy to keep in contact with people who are far away. Even so, be aware that relationships go two ways. If you start making all the effort and they aren’t reaching back or vice-versa, then it is time to assess the relationship.
Embrace change like a challenge. Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. The best part about college is that you can redefine who you are, and that is a gift. Change is what teaches us the most about ourselves. It’s what defines us, and it’s what shapes us into the amazing, beautiful human beings we are.
Bottom line: opportunities are abound in this new place. To quote the great e.e. cummings, “there’s a hell of a universe next door; let’s go.” So come on -– join me here. I’m a new kid, too.
Contact Independent Staff Writer Hannah Morrison at Hamo7004@colorado.edu.