Sirene, I've just started college and I've been in the dorms for about a week... and I still haven't made friends. I've introduced myself and tried to talk to my floormates but they've all found their groups and I'm sitting here alone in my room watching anime. Does making friends get easier?
I’m gonna be straight-up blunt with you: if all you’re doing is sitting alone in your room, you’re not going to make friends. I say this from personal experience.
(This is going to be extremely long; bear with me, because I feel it’s important to explain. I get this question a lot and I’m going to break it down as thoroughly as I can this time.)
I lucked out my freshman year in the fact that my roommate Jess and I hit it off wonderfully. We got along alright with our suite mates and I knew the names of a few other people on our floor, but not enough that I wanted to hang out with them. But Jess and I had a ton of shared interests, and we were both introverts, so we were completely content to be in each other’s company as we sat around watching anime and reading fanfiction and communicating via macros. We’d have movie nights and we spent that year marathoning Doctor Who and Supernatural together. It was fantastic, because look! I had a friend to hang out with and I didn’t even have to leave my room!
So I never bothered meeting anyone else - especially because Courtney and her roommate Brandi lived on the floor above us, so I could hang out with them anytime Jess had something else to do or we just needed some time apart (because otherwise we were pretty much attached at the hip). To put it simply, when coming into college, I already had my best friend there, and I got along super well with Jess and Brandi, so I just didn’t have any desire to make more friends.
Sophomore year, all four of us lived together, and Courtney’s boyfriend Matt also came to Columbia, so again: another friend, this time one that I’d known essentially since elementary school. No need to go out and meet other people.
In fact, I didn’t really make another “college friend” until I met Alex - who I met through Courtney, so yet again, no need to go out and socialize on my own. Alex and I became super close and actually moved in together after Courtney left, then we pretty much decided we hated everyone else in the world and would only hang out with Jess and our cosplay friends.
And I had plenty of the latter! There are lots of conventions in the Chicago area, so I knew a lot of people from the cosplay scene when I moved there, and anyone I didn’t know I met soon enough because it’s one of those “everyone knows everyone and we’re all basically friends because it’s cold a lot and we like to eat food together.” And this demonstrates something: when I was going out, leaving my bedroom and laptop behind to actually do stuff with other people, I had no trouble meeting others with the same interests and befriending them.
But for the most part, I spent college sitting in my dorms and apartments. I did not make an effort to hang out with any of my classmates outside of class, I did not go to school events, I did not join clubs or extracurricular activities. If I did all of those things, I probably would have met tons of people with the same interests and actually made new friends. But I didn’t, because I was happy with the ones I had and felt no need to meet anyone else.
And there’s nothing wrong with that - but in your case, it sounds like you don’t have the same support system I started out with when I went to college, i.e. already knowing people and being in a positive roommate situation. And you want that.
So my advice: take your laptop and go watch anime in the student lounge. Join some clubs that cater to your interests; I guarantee your college has an anime or “Japanese culture” club, or a sci-fi/fantasy club, or a Doctor Who club. Try joining your school’s Quidditch team - no, really, that sport has gotten so popular that they’ll either have one or be in the process of forming one. Strike up a conversation with that girl in class who has a Catbug keychain or that guy wearing a Legend of Zelda shirt. Make a post on your dorm’s Facebook page to see if anyone wants to get together for an Attack on Titan marathon.
It may take a few tries. You will have awkward moments where the conversation flounders or your icebreaker falls flat. It’s okay. This happens. Sometimes things don’t click, or that girl with the Catbug keychain is trying to concentrate on what homework she has to do after class; or that guy with the Zelda shirt had a fight with his roommate and can’t think about anything else than what it’ll be like in their dorm tonight.
Don’t automatically assume that it’s because of you and they must hate you and wow why do you even bother, because people have lots of other things going on in their lives and sometimes it just isn’t the right time to strike up a conversation. So keep trying. Maybe next week, they’ll jump right into a discussion about the latest episode of Sword Art Online and think the idea of getting together to watch the new episodes would be totally rad.
None of this is going to be easy or feel natural if you’re an introvert like me. You will feel your palms sweat and your heart leap into your throat. Your voice will catch when you try to say hi to the girl sitting next to you during lecture or call out a greeting as you pass a floormate on the way to the elevator.
Fight through it. Put yourself out there. The worst that could happen is you have a socially-awkward moment - after which you will facepalm, laugh it off, move on, and keep trying.
College is what you make of it, especially when it comes to friends. This is a time to get out there, explore your relationships, and build friendships that are based on mutual interests and companionship, rather than the convenience of, “Oh, we’ve known each other since Mrs. Simmon’s first grade class and we’re both in band, so I guess we’re friends.”
The best part? Somewhere in your dorm building, there’s another freshman sitting on their laptop watching anime, wishing they had someone to freak out with over the new fall shows. All that needs to happen is for your paths to cross. And the only way to do that is get out there and make it happen.