My original plan for this post was to tell you that the only way you could possibly have a successful, thriving social life at Furman was if you tried out for Improv!able Cause and attended all of their shows. I have been informed this is “unethical” and “misleading”, which are big words The Man uses to keep you down.
The truth is that a mentality like that could not be more inaccurate (sadly). As an incoming high schooler, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and full of wonder, I was terrified about not being able to make any friends. I had my close knit group of friends from high school and was confident I would never be able to replicate that anywhere else (unsurprisingly, high school Ben was also unfamiliar with the term “self-fulfilling prophecy”).
To be fair, this was my only exposure as a child to the world of prophecy.
So to any high schoolers reading with a similar sense of apprehension, I’ll say that’s absolutely not something to be worried about. One of Furman’s strengths, I think, is that it offers a platform for just about everyone.
I think the best way to illustrate that point is with a story. My freshman year, I met one of my close friends, James. James is a big fan of the video game Super Smash Bros – he plays competitively, travels to tournaments, the whole nine yards. He even wins money occasionally from placing at the top of these competitions (I was unaware that one could make money playing video games, and my inner nine year old felt extremely vindicated upon hearing this news). So, freshman year, a big bonding thing for our circle of friends was that we would pile into James’ room in Geer 300, leave the door open, and let anyone who wanted wander in and get absolutely whipped at this video game. I found that my trash talking and James’ button mashing made for a pretty formidable combination.
an accurate representation of our dynamic.
Now, aside from the fact that making friends with nerds is as simple as having a console set up in your dorm, we eventually wanted to reach out to a few more people. So James and I drafted up a constitution and proposed our organization to SGA. They approved it, and soon we were in charge of the SGA-sponsored club that played video games.
I think there’s a few points to this little college freshman fable. First, college is a much different environment from high school. Find what you enjoy and pursue it, and if you’ve chosen the right school, you’ll meet like-minded people. I think the best way to make friends is to join organizations – as many as you can! They understand you aren’t committing 100% when you’re a few weeks in your freshman year. To me, the various student organizations are the best way to find your people at campus and develop a social life. For some, that’s greek life. For others, it’s a musical group, the campus paper, an academic society or service organization – you get the picture.
I think the other key takeaway from the Tao of Freshman Ben was that you have to leave your door open. The best advice I ever heard for college freshman year was to leave your dorm room open as much as you possibly could. Freshman year, everyone’s in the same boat – they’re looking for friends, they’re a little scared, and they’re unsure of where to go. You’ll meet dozens of people just watching Parks and Rec, having idle conversation with your roommate (or, if you’re like me and my freshman year roommate, engaging in passive-aggressive thermostat wars).
My social life at Furman now looks a lot different than it did freshman year (and, mercifully, I look a lot different as well – that freshman year facial hair is best left in the past). However, I maintain the key to meeting not just as many people as possible, but the people you’ll enjoy the most, is through putting yourself out there in the organizations you’re really passionate about. The friends I’ve made across campus all have connections to things I love, whether they’re buddies from studying abroad, classes for a shared major, or organizations I love to be a part of. Finding friends at college is easy, it’s just putting yourself out there that’s tricky at first.