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How to Find Joy as a College Freshman

Tasting independence, navigating social issues, and creating a brand

fstop123/Getty Images
fstop123/Getty Images

It’s August—moving in time, moving away from high school, home and heading out on your own. That can be very exciting and very scary…

I know that I am an old fart. But I have a son who just finished his freshman year in college and know several others who are also freshmen.

More importantly, as someone who attempted to give up on life several times and now enjoys it, please give me a chance to bring more joy to your years as an undergrad—possibly the best years of your life. I struggled badly as a freshman, and I can understand some of the issues that you are grappling with. My book Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness highlights my struggles and triumphs. Life only gets more complicated after graduation, so listen up!

Some of you are struggling with academics. Some are dealing with social issues. Some are overwhelmed due to time management challenges. Others are dealing with being away from home and being truly independent for the first time. Many are burdened with all of the above. That’s tough.

Finding Lasting Friends

Here’s something that could help. Amuse me just for a minute.

Can you imagine what would happen if you wanted to buy a “good car” really badly?

Guess the sequence of events that would unfold once you embarked on your journey to buy that “good car.”

How would it have played out if you decided to buy a “Red VW Bug” or _______________ (insert your favorite car / item here) instead?

Was it any easier?

Given the imagined experience of buying a “Red VW Bug” or _______________ (insert your favorite car / item here) instead of just a “good car,” would you be willing to write down what you are looking for in terms of friends – their values and their aspirations and/or goals?

I hope that you answered, “YES.”

In my 30 years of experience working with successful entrepreneurs and CEOs who are also happily enjoying their lives (by the way, that’s not too many), I discovered that they are very particular about what they choose to do and who they choose to hang out with.

Focusing only for fun in the near-term, you tend to attract “butterflies,” seemingly wonderful fair-weather friends who soon flitter away when circumstances change, leaving them missing out on joy in the long run.

Get to know your expectations. What are you looking for in your friends? Write them down to make them clear to you. Make the implicit explicit!

5 Steps to Friendships that Last Forever

  1. What are the values that you cherish?
  2. What are your aspirations and/or goals?
  3. What are the fundamental values that you would like any of your friends to have?
  4. What are the values and aspirations that you would like to see in your close friends?
  5. What values and aspirations would you like to see in your innermost circle of friends?

Once you have these written down, you will notice that it becomes a lot easier to find friends who are compatible and will stick with you through thick and thin. They will also bring more joy into your life. It almost as easy as deciding to buy that “Red VW Beetle” and you begin to see Red VW Beetles all over the place.

Managing Expectations

  • I must make great friends in my first semester or I won’t have a good time in college. Most likely, that’s not going to happen. Even if you think that you have made good friends, they may not remain so. Why? People change, you change, and all of you are in a new environment and trying to find your place and establish your identity.
  • It may take a year or two for you to settle down and be who you are in new surroundings.
  • Strong friendships take time to develop. Friendships that magically happen also have the potential to magically disappear.

Take your time to get to know yourself and the values and aspirations you cherish and find people with a similar outlook, and I promise that you will not only improve the quality of your friendships but also have more fun.

Be well.

Originally published at mindfulchoices.org

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