August 24, 2019

Social situations have never been one of my strengths. I've had the same few close friends for most of my life. Aside from them I have a good number of other friends I wouldn't mind hanging out with. But beyond them, when with acquaintances or people that are friends solely due to circumstance, that's when I start to retreat to the corner and take out my phone, with the idea of no one would want to talk to me anyway slowly seeding itself in my thoughts.

And so unsurprisingly, college was a bit lonely at first. It's not that people weren't friendly and welcoming—they were the exact opposite— but when you don't feel like you belong, no amount of friendliness would change that. The only people I knew at this point were people from my country, and so I figured I'd try to be somewhat active in cultural clubs. But I never felt completely comfortable in these clubs. It's not because they weren't welcoming—I regard many of them as good friends—it just didn't always feel right to me.

My university is known for football, and I have been to exactly one game. It was fun and I enjoyed it, but every game after the first game I could never get myself to go. Part of that is I didn't have anyone to go with, but there was also an unexplainable aversion. It didn't feel right. One time, I was contemplating on going to a very important game, but ended up watching the entire first season of The Dragon Prince.

I've had a similar experience with college parties. I went to a few, and they were fun, but it's not something I actively look for. It's almost paradoxical how parties can make you feel so lonely when literally surrounded by so many people.

All in all, the whole culture and beliefs of my college are nothing like who I am, many times they're the exact opposite. But I don't hate this school; overall, I've enjoyed my first year. I eventually met people I was comfortable with, and things got better. These people aren't necessarily like me—some of them like football, go to parties, or are very active in cultural clubs—but being with them feels right and not forced. I've found new close friends I can fully trust and be myself with. I would have no problem spending the entire night with them just talking. And that has made everything worth it. I don't feel the same anxiety and loneliness that I did.

Last February, I went to an event where I played board games, watched a Smash tournament, and watched a cosplay competition. After the event ended, me and a few other friends continued to play board games–I even got to play Settlers of Catan for the first time. Being in that event with 2-3 friends was the first time in months where things felt right. Before that, everything frequently felt so wrong and so lonely. But after that day I decided it didn't need to be that way anymore.

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