A couple of days ago I received a Facebook message from a college freshman looking for advice on a recent heartbreak. After hearing her story, I was surprised at how similar her situation was to my freshman year experience.
It’s a common assumption that once someone enters college they are going to go wild. What they don’t tell you, is that no matter your body count, you’re going to start to feel crazy– and not in the fireball shot kinda way.
We’ve all seen the Real World; a seemingly normal cast enters a house with complete strangers and leaves completely emotionally drained and perhaps too acquainted with each other. With your insecure couples, the “taken” girl with a questionable track record, the guy who swoons the female cast, and the blackout Barbies who fall for their antics; freshman year of college would make a killer TV show.
Shit goes down without a crew or a camera script. Your life revolves around a social circle, all-nighters, and aiding your hangovers. You find yourself overly consumed with the people around you, this includes romantic relationships; which you are told to avoid from the start. Everyone tells you that you should remain single in order to have a “real college experience.” Relationships are considered a sacrifice in college. Even if you find Mr./Miss Next-to-Perfect, the notion doesn’t always leave the back of your mind.
I had a “best guy friend” at the beginning of my freshman year at Suffolk. Our relationship was strictly platonic, although he always went out of his way to do nice things for me. Things escalated quickly. It felt like we were in a committed relationship only two weeks after our first kiss. Initially I felt suffocated, but I didn’t want to lose one of my closest friends at school. I pretended to have romantic feelings I’m not sure existed at the time.
When our roles reversed, I felt like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t fathom that the person I was so fond of didn’t want to be with me. Sure, in the beginning I took advantage of the fact that we weren’t exclusive. As soon as I had made up my mind he had changed his. I was angry that he couldn’t even pretend to care, like I had.
So I wrote a 4 page single spaced letter to him. I made sure to include my side of EVERY story, explaining my questionable actions and challenging his. It was an empowering process, and an aggressive move on my part for sure. I felt as though my feelings would be reciprocated if they were understood.
But you don’t want someone to feel bad for you.
You’re not being dramatic, your feelings are very much real. Your emotions are authentic and your relationships are unique. You have to understand your environment in order to make sense of your thoughts. The fact of the matter is, you’re surrounded by drama. Everyone around you is in the midst of a massive life change. You’re exhausted; both emotionally and physically. You might not have an escape.
I’m not suggesting you run away from your problems, but I’m acknowledging the struggle. The dining hall becomes a war zone, not a place of happy socialization. You’re constantly on edge, but you’ll have to get through it. See things as they are, not how they were, or how you’d like them to be. Don’t assume what anyone else is thinking or feeling, or what they think of you. This won’t consume you if you don’t let it.
Your emotions are real, but everything in life is escalated when you’re a freshman in college. They probably weren’t the love of your life (even if they were your first sober adult sleepover.) Theres still a chance things might workout; but not tonight so don’t text them. Right now you should watch Girls on HBO and order delivery.
If you truly want to remain friends, let it happen naturally. It will take time, and forcing it will push the other person away. Trust me, three years later and my story has a happy, platonic ending.
Just a little confused still– what do you call a breakup if you weren’t officially dating? Can it be broken even if it wasn’t fully functional yet? Maybe the next generation will figure that one out.