arjai101 asks: Being at this technical university is incredibly lonely. I’m not truly a part of high school, but I’m also not truly in college either. It’s incredibly isolating. I go hours on end without talking to other people. The only time I talk to people is when I go to the rock climbing gym on campus once a week. I almost always meet people there and have a great time talking and climbing and all, but I never see those people again. I feel weird asking for their contact information as everyone is so much older than me, and I’m only 16. It feels like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be because these people are actual adults, which I sometimes forget. I’ve met only one other student like me on campus, and he’s in one of my classes. At first, we talked quite a bit. But after the first week, we stopped talking altogether; we don’t even really sit next to each other anymore. I think maybe he just talked to me because at the beginning of the class I seemed really smart or whatever because I answered like one really hard question. And, everyone was all impressed. Everyone was sort of initiating conversation with me then because they thought maybe I would give them an advantage. But after that all died down, no one pays me the time of the day. Even when I wave at them outside of class, it’s kind of an awkward thing. Also, the other dual-enrollment student is only part-time and I’m full-time, and he’s a year older than me, so I guess that’s a barrier. But, it wouldn’t kill to at least pretend like we know each other. Anyhow…I’m not offended by any of it at all. I just feel incredibly lonely and isolated, that’s all. All in all, I’m still happier at Georgia Tech than I ever was at my high school. It just has its cons. Maybe if I lived on campus, I’d feel more a part of everything. Trying to stay positive because I know I made the right decision leaving my high school. I’m just trying to figure out how to meet other people.
Hi arjai101 –
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m so impressed with your journey! Do you have any idea how many 16-year-olds would have been too frightened to try what you’re doing?
So I’m in the tough place of, at the same time, saluting your bravery and acknowledging that what you’re going through is exactly what we could have guessed you’d go through. None of this is really a surprise – even to you.
Here’s what I think is the main issue. Every new student at the school feels just as new, nervous, and alone as you. Or at least they did when they first got there. Then each of them found whatever connections they could – maybe they made one or two friends in their dormitory hall and have stuck with them; maybe they joined a fraternity or sorority or some other social group; maybe they joined a group based on their interests (political, cultural, religious). But – and here’s the tough part – they then tend to get comfortable with those people. “I’ve done the hard part of reaching out to someone new, now I have my peeps, so it’s too difficult to keep doing that!”
And I might be wrong on this, but I’m going to guess that this is even more true at a technical university than at one full of people entering political science and theater and other, more social, subjects.
So in other words, I’m agreeing with you. You still made the right choice, but your not living on campus, and perhaps your age (not that you’re too immature, but some of them might feel “oh she wouldn’t find the things I like interesting; she’s too young” or maybe even “she’s too brilliant to find me interesting!”), get in the way of people getting to know you.
So my best suggestion – really my only one for right now – is to see if you can join some group on campus. There’s so much going on culturally/politically right now in your country, I’d think there just has to be some cause you’d find really important, and college campuses are just the place to get involved in those. (note to readers: I do know what school arjai101 goes to – I just keep from posting it online for arjai101’s identity protection). I know you have to spend lots of time studying, but can you get involved in something just a little?
Or are there some fun activities you could get involved in on the campus? Do they do plays, or any sports? I know of a technical university in California that got a lot of fame for its basketball team – because everyone at the school was a genius or close to it, they tended to be poor athletes, and the games were always sold out even though they would never win – with the crowd cheering wildly any time one of their brilliant scientists would score a basket.
(and the one time they did win a game, the campus went into a near-riot of celebration!)
But even if you do join such a group, there’s a chance you’ll still feel a bit of an outsider, as the other members will be older and live on campus… but only for the next few months!
You see, when your second year there begins, you’ll suddenly be an INsider! One new student will show up at the school and you’ll be the one to tell them where their classroom is. Another student will show up and have always been young for their school year – so they’ll be seventeen, just like you. And students returning from vacation will find you the familiar face they react to, after so many of their other friends have left.
So to my mind, your job – your tough job – is just to get through the next half-year or so. But again, I think if you can find some group to get involved with (even if it’s something you don’t think you’re good at – school theaters always are looking for people to help out with painting sets or hanging lights or playing small roles), I think it’ll help a lot.
But I need to finish this where I began it… WOW you impress the fur right off of my tummy!!!
All my best,