That famous first day of college is so unbearably nerve-wracking. Many of us can agree that walking into the giant lecture hall of your new college is quite possibly one of the most intimidating experiences of the college experience. You hesitate as you open the door, stomach full of nerves and a head full of worries.
You’re surrounded by hundreds of new faces, new voices and new personalities, yet despite the huge crowds, you can be left feeling incredibly alone.
You try your best to make awkward chit-chat with the girl sitting next to you about where you’re from and how stressful public transport is (the 46a at 8 am is a true nightmare.) You laugh at your lecturer’s jokes that they no doubt repeat at the beginning of every college year. And breathe a sigh of relief after making it through that overwhelming first class.
As the weeks go by, you start to settle in. You make friends, you get into a groove with your coursework and revel in the entire college experience. However, this isn’t the case for everyone.
College can be an intense and isolating time for many people, especially when you’re attending somewhere like Trinity or UCD which feel like their own little towns themselves.
Some may find it hard to socialise, others may feel too nervous to get involved in clubs and meeting new people may just be too daunting for other people.
I felt so disheartened when I read a tweet by UCD student Niamh Murphy about something that happened in the Dublin college this week.
Niamh revealed that she had overheard a few girls mocking a guy for sitting alone eating lunch in the college.
“I don't know him or them but UCD can be a very lonely, isolating and anxiety-inducing place for many and a smile would go a whole lot further than mockery and shaming okay thanks,” she tweeted.
Overheard a few girls mocking a fella for sitting alone eating lunch in college today. I don't know him or them but UCD can be a very lonely, isolating and anxiety inducing place for many and a smile would go a whole lot further than mockery and shaming okay thanks
— niamh (@Niamhy_Murphy) March 25, 2019
What that group of girls did angered so many people. We all know just how terrifying college can be and to have people sneer at you is the last thing you need.
Their secondary school mindset should have been left behind when they started college. The desire to be popular is something that we all need to give up on. Isn’t being valued and loved far more important than being surrounded by dozens of people as you eat an overpriced sandwich from the campus coffee shop?
Spending time on your own is an empowering and mature thing to do. There is no shame in simply wanting to be by yourself.
Embracing your own company is one of the greatest things you can do for your self-confidence. It takes a lot of courage and strength to do it, especially in a place like UCD that can be awfully alienating.
It’s 2019, it is about time we let go of that childish notion that being popular is the be all and end all of life.