My first two years at college were the most miserable of my life. Having had a group of really close girlfriends in high school (who are still my BFFs, hi guys!), I went from having an active social life where I always felt understood by my peeps to feeling very, very alone.
I wasn’t clicking with any people in my classes. My roommate and I got along great but our friendship didn’t really go beyond our teeny-tiny dorm room. I went to a Big 10 school where Greek life was a Big Deal, but that environment didn’t appeal to me at all. I attended one Hillel event to try to find some fellow Jews, but once again I wasn’t jiving with anyone there (appreciated the free pizza, though). I tried guitar club, the school’s literary magazine, going to frat parties, going to house parties, hanging out on the quad, hanging out in the Student Union. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
I wound up spending a lot of time in my room alone, writing very depressing thoughts in my diary, listening to very depressing music on iTunes, and feeling like there must be something utterly wrong with me. Because college is supposed to be the time of your life, right? That’s what every college movie had implied. That’s what every adult in my life had told me. And that’s what seemed to be the case for all my friends who went off to different schools, who spoke of new friends and awesome times and blah blah fucking blah.
So I thought I was the only failure of a person who went off to college and didn’t “spread my wings” until I wrote about it for xoJane a couple years ago and something kind of amazing happened: My Facebook feed started filling up with comments from people who were miserable at college but felt like they were alone in that misery, too. I got private messages from people I went to high school with—the same people who I could have sworn were posting those happy-go-lucky pics during college that made me jealous in every bone of my body—telling me that they went through the “same exact thing.”
This warmed my heart, but also pissed me off. Why was our culture promoting this idea that everybody goes off to college and has the time of their life? It simply isn’t true, and not talking about the realities of how hard the transition to college can be was doing a lot of damage to people going through it.
That’s why, when I saw this video made by college freshman Emery Bergmann making the rounds on social media today, I threw my hands up in the air for a big fat amen. For an assignment in her digital media class, 17-year-old Bergmann made a raw, honest video about being lonely at college and not yet finding “her people.”
The video is super creative and often funny and light-hearted while bringing to light a serious issue that so many people can relate to. It opens with Bergmann explaining her deal, saying, “I guess I just assumed that once I was at school, that like that was going to be it. I was going to have a million friends, I was just going to party all the time, and it was just going to be lit. But it’s just not really like that.”
She touches on the effects of social media while talking about her friends from home who seem to be having the “most fun ever” at their chosen schools, offering that, “I know social media is fake and stuff, and that people are picking and choosing the coolest parts of their life to show you, but like, I don’t know, it gets to you.”
The video closes with the idea that what it takes is some patience. Bergmann explained to TODAY Parents that, “Everyone is figuring themselves out and their place, dealing with the same transition you are. Finding your ‘people’ is an active process, not something immediate, as I expected it to be.”
In my case, I eventually found my people, but only after transferring to a smaller art school closer to home. Whatever it takes, I’m comforted by the fact that this video is going viral, which means that more people are ready to talk about this and end the notion that it’s just like super easy to leave home for the first time, show up at a completely foreign place where you don’t know anyone, and have a grand old time.
As for Emery: You’re obviously super talented and awesome. If you feel like being friends with an old 31-year-old, I’m here.