By Jane Bowden
When I transferred to the College last fall, I’ll be honest — I didn’t think I belonged at first. It wasn’t because the environment wasn’t welcoming or I thought I should’ve gone to another school; it was because I felt alone and different for being a transfer student.
As others recalled stories from their freshmen year, like living in Travers and Wolfe Halls, I felt like I had missed a part of the college experience I’d never be able to live. All around me, it seemed as if people had already formed their friend groups, and I soon found myself feeling very isolated and out of place.
As a result, my mental health worsened, and I started going to group therapy as part of the College’s Mental Health Services. Even though I was already seeing a therapist who was closer to home and still talked to them on the phone once a week, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to speak face-to-face to people on campus.
While I was — and still am — an open mental health advocate, I was ashamed that I was struggling with my transition from community college to the College and was seeing another therapist. I thought, “I already had trouble adjusting to community college after high school, and now I’m struggling again? This isn’t fair. I must be weak.” I guess, in a way, I felt like a freshman again.
But during a group therapy session last fall, when I was talking about my feelings of loneliness, a peer said something I’ll never forget — we all feel like outsiders at some point in our lives, and we all struggle at making friends. This person, too, had difficulty in making friends, even though they had been at the College a year longer than I had.
What they said stuck with me, even to this day. Looking back now, what they said was obvious. Of course we all understand what it’s like to feel alone. My friends and I talk about it all of the time now.
But at the time, I didn’t think anyone else felt that way, and they said what I needed to hear in order to feel comforted and keep going.
Now that I’m a senior, I can wholeheartedly say that I know I belong at the College.
Though this sense of belonging didn’t happen until the first day of this school year, it helped that after that conversation in group therapy, I became more involved at the College and started to build meaningful relationships along the way. Sure, it took a bit of trial and error, since I’m no longer in as many clubs as I joined last fall.
But what mattered then still matters today: whether you’re a transfer, freshman or just a person struggling to find your place in the world, it’s important to put yourself out there, give yourself time to adjust to the situation you’re in and remember that there’s always someone who’s going through the same struggles as you.