Be Real. Be Very Real. (The 10th Thing I learned Sophomore Year)
Being real, being open, and being vulnerable is so important in college. In a much smaller way, telling your roommate what temperature you like your room is also very important. :) If you know me, you know that I try to be no one but myself — though that’s often really hard and I don’t quite always make it. If you want to see more about being real, look at #halfthestory on Instagram, started by a Vandy alum. But first, read this post :)
In the summer before coming to college, it’s so tempting to scroll through the Roomie Facebook groups, look at personal pages, add future classmates on Snapchat and follow them on Instagram and Twitter. The person who you will eventually live with will probably start off as a series of pictures, quotes, and likes.
When you come to college, that future friend will become real. Sometimes, they’re much quieter in person, with their strongly held opinions kept much closer to their chest. Sometimes, they’re much louder. Just remember, on another screen, somewhere, someone else is looking at your social media pages and forming an idea (most likely not on point) of what you are like.
Some Tips For Staying Real
- Don’t be intimidated by the “perfect” life of your future roomie, possible friend, or forever stranger that you stalk on Facebook. People have their problems which usually aren’t on their Facebook or Twitter page. Keep that in mind behind the adorable prom and flawless beach pictures.
- Don’t be afraid to open up to someone you’ve only just met. Many of the “strangers” you meet the first week will turn into friends, or at least close acquaintances, especially those on your hall. Here, I’m defining “opening up” as telling someone you’re doing badly on a test, missing your family, struggling with depression or anxiety, or just needing a hug.
- ROOMING // Before anything else, ask the real questions: what temperature do you like your room, are you planning on having people sleep or stay over, are you planning on going out in college, are you thinking about rushing, are you clean or messy. Especially with the first and the last, BE HONEST. Especially since I know some of your RA’s and they’re amazing people and a stress-free year is always a good thing. :)
- Be authentic with the people you meet. In college, many people try to change their personalities to be “cooler” than they were in high school. I’m talking about buying branded clothes, putting lots of effort into their appearance, and forcing themselves to be more “out there.” There’s nothing wrong with these things, but when you’re stressing yourself out trying to be someone you’re only trying to be, it’s not worth it anymore. So if you want to take a day (or a few days) to wear sweatpants and a minion shirt instead of a summer dress, wear the minion shirt.
- Lots of Vandy kids will have not partied in high school, and many will want to try it in college. And people change when they drink. If you decide to drink, never use alcohol as a way to make yourself more likeable or more extroverted. That’s not being authentic to yourself, and then alcohol turns into a crutch instead of just something that you enjoy in healthy amounts. You’ll also just make friends that you hang out with to party, instead of friends whom you can talk to when you just need someone to talk to.
- Going along with the previous one – take care of your friends. If someone is drinking too much, at least try to smile and say something to them. If someone is too drunk and may need help getting home and into bed, definitely don’t abandon them. With that said, never let yourself be used. If a friend tells more than once that he or she is going out and asks you to “take care of them later,” you have the right to say that you need to study, you’re hanging out with other friends, or you’re going out yourself. You don’t always have to be a standby.
- Be prepared to listen to people when they need to vent. Even if you’re tired, even if you feel like you don’t have time, just sit down and be present for a little while. You’ll be surprised
- While being homesick and feeling alone in college are experiences that can bond people together, be aware of the values of the people who you’re making friends with. I know this sounds a little vague, but it’s so important to make good friends with college who will lift you up, not tear you down, and ones who will respect you and what you respect.
- Before I talk about the last one, I want to say that many people struggle with depression and anxiety in college, and it’s usually the people who you would never think would. I’m going to talk about this in another post, so look out for that.
- If you’re religious, don’t be scared of telling someone you’re going to mass, mosque, church, or temple. I know it can seem weird when someone asks you where you’re going and you’re going to your respective religious service or a religious event, but people are by and large open and friendly. They might even ask questions later about your particular religion or denomination, and it’s always awesome to learn more about someone else’s beliefs through answering questions about yours. This also goes for any event concerning atheism, agnosticism, or secular humanism. I promise that people won’t judge you as much as you think that they might, if at all.
- This last one can go for any other event that you consider sensitive, such as an event about discussing race, gender, or sexuality. Again, although some people may feel uncomfortable, if you ask enough people (even just ‘random people’ on your floor or a friend’s friend), you’ll find someone!
- So, be real in college. Be more than that sleek Instagram or curated Twitter. Don’t be afraid to talk about what’s happening in your life, how you feel about certain issues, or an event or discussion that concerns your particular religion or belief system, race, gender, or sexuality.
So there you go, friends! I hope that these help you as you navigate the social media waters of the summer before college. As always, email me if you have any questions at Sophia.firstname.lastname@example.org