It was the beginning of my freshman year of college. Never in my life had I ever seen more people doing more things, with seemingly enough stamina to complete anything their heart desired without batting an eye.
There were Cookout runs every night at midnight, cliff jumping excursions, karaoke nights, more concerts than I could have imagined, movies to see, and people to get to know. Every second of downtime was filled with adventure, and every single person on campus was having the time of their lives.
I mean, what could have been better? Everyone tells you as a freshman that college is the time of your life and to make the most of it before it passes you by…
So Why Wasn’t I Having Fun?
I had dozens of new friends that I loved being around, millions of things to do and explore: yet all I wanted in life was to curl up in my bed and just veg for like a week.
I almost always accepted when my friends would propose a game night in the business building across campus or something of the like, but after an hour or so of Settlers of Catan, I found myself having less fun than I wished I was having.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy being with my friends (or Catan either, for that matter), I did. and looking back the majority of the time I had way more fun than not.
There were just times when I was stuck in the back of my friend’s pick-up truck drowning in country music; driving to one “fun” destination or another, when I wished heavily that I had called in sick and stayed back to watch Netflix.
“Have you ever felt this way?”
If the answer to that question is yes, then you understand the dance. I had a constant battle between FOMO (the fear of missing out) and having very little interest in continuing being somewhere I truly didn’t want to be.
Call me an introvert or call me picky; either way, this would prove to be something that would leave me stressed out and confused throughout my entire freshman year.
Having dealt with the issue of navigating the waters of fun vs. self-care, here are my 5 tips that will hopefully help improve your college fun and help you retain your sanity along the way.
5 Tips for When Everyone Around You Is Having Fun and You Aren’t
1. Know Yourself
Freshman year is a blur that goes by a million miles a minute. Before going into it, try to get to know yourself. People say that college is the time for self-discovery, and I don’t disagree.
However, going into it with your basics down can be a huge help when trying to keep yourself from spending a miserable night doing something you dislike.
Do you hate hiking? Great. Don’t go camping with a group of tree-hugging pals. Can’t stand huge crowds? Concerts probably aren’t your best option. Stay true to what you like and dislike, and you’ll have a lot more fun.
2. Choose to Engage
If you do find yourself in a situation that you’re less than thrilled about, assess why you’re not having a good time. If it can be fixed, try to fix it. As simple as this sounds, actively seeking out change can make all the difference in your experience.
If simply pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will create the fun you’re after, maybe the cost is worth the reward.
Try seeking out conversation with someone in the group. Create meaning beyond what you are finding. So many times things seem worse than they are; a simple connection with another person involved can make all of the difference.
3. Choose to Disengage
If you’ve tried to engage and still aren’t finding a good vibe, maybe it’s time for you to disengage. Being afraid of missing out on fun is an incredibly real thing, and a ton of college-aged people struggle with it on a daily basis.
However, don’t let the FOMO force you to do something that you do not want to do.
Here’s the thing: there is nothing wrong with leaving. I know, it sounds crazy, and scary, and wrong; but it’s true. Your friends aren’t going to hate you, and more than likely you’re not going to miss out on anything that would make it worth your while to be stay.
So if you’re uncomfortable and there is no solid reason for you to stay put, pick up your stuff and head on outta there.
4. Be Honest with Yourself and the People Around You
This one is huge. It’s often extremely easy to make up excuses when you don’t want to go do something with your friends. The options for viable excuses seem endless, include anything from “I’m so sorry, I think I’m getting sick” to “I really can’t, my cat needs me to be home tonight”.
While tempting, this is a dangerous trap: there are only so many times “Hey sorry pal, I’m busy” is going to fly before people start getting their feelings hurt.
Take this from me. The first time someone asks you to do something that you really would rather not do, just tell them that. Your opinions are totally valid; they can’t tell you that you’re wrong because it’s just that: YOUR opinion.
So, if you’ve had a long day and staying in bed and binge-watching sitcoms while sipping on Earl Grey tea is more your style, feel empowered enough to make that choice for yourself without feeling pressured.
5. Maybe You’re Not Alone
One thing that I have found to be continually true throughout my college career, is that if I’m not having fun, I’m probably not the only one. People are great actors, and we will do nearly anything to fit in and feel included in our desired circle.
So, if you’re looking around and feeling like the only one not having fun, just remember, more than likely, that is NOT the case. Every person is different, and not everyone enjoys constantly hanging out in groups or nightly trips to get junk food; it’s not just you.
In the end, the most important thing is staying true to yourself, and feeling secure enough to do whatever it is that works best for you. College is not just about partying every night and participating in every opportunity, it can be whatever you want it to be.
Next time you want to stay back, do it. It’s all about finding a balance. Once you find balance, happiness will be a much easier goal to reach.