Everything you need to know

Dear Janet,

I’m a first-year and I guess I’m having an all right time at college, but I feel like I haven’t made any really good friends yet. I hang out with people on my floor, but we just kinda sit around, get food together, and complain about homework. I used to have real conversations with friends from high school. But even that is weird now. What happened to all the great people and good conversations? Sometimes I feel like I talk to people on MMORPGs more than I do in real life.

—Weary of Waiting

Dear WoW,

You know, I remember finding myself disappointed toward the end of my first year too, missing my best friends from high school and worried because equally important ones hadn’t developed in their places. But, think about it: You knew the people in your high school for years, depending on when you moved there. Those friendships from home that you cherish didn’t just spring fully formed from the ether; they developed, through coincidence, hard work, serendipity, and compassion — like all friendships.

Remember this as well: For most people, the beginning of something as daunting as a new school is a lonely time. Personally, I have trouble starting conversations with people, and I also find it hard to really let my guard down. If you find it hard to even start that initial conversation, well, the entire process obviously becomes a bit more troublesome.

But whether this part trips you up or not, how do you meet these wonderful people who, by everything we’ve been told, are supposed to become your lifelong friends and toast you at your wedding? I’ve learned the best way to meet amazing people is to do amazing things. Find something you’re passionate about and do it. It doesn’t matter what it is, if you enjoy it. Just make sure it’s something where you come into contact with people. The living of life itself, as long as you actively choose to live it, will put you in contact with the cool people you seek.

And when you do meet someone you think is really awesome, what do you do? Just go for it. Reach out. Let things develop naturally. On the other hand, also recognize that we’re all busy, and there are some who are chronic flakes. Learn to recognize them and decide if they’re cool enough to be worth the trouble.

But honestly, I would just work harder trying to seek out the interesting people that are surrounding you now, in the school and the city at large. There’s no law saying you’re married to your floormates, you know. Almost everyone hangs out with their floormates in the first year, or people in their buildings, but they were put there by a lottery. Or something. I don’t really know how it works, but it’s complicated and mostly random, and certainly not designed with an eye toward who your best friends forever ought to be.