pru i’ve just moved into a residential college far from home & i’m feeling extremely anxious because there’s new people & a new environment and i feel like i don’t have a support system in place yet. do you have any advice on how to feel less awful when moving to new places in general?

College, as the first time away from home, can be such a mindfuck. Even if you’re a fairly independent person, losing the framework of home and breakfast time and dinner and people you see all the time and the familiarity of the a place you know can be massively, massively disorienting. 

Something that helped me immensely when I just went off to college was finding an activity that I could really build connections in. I mean something like an acapella group or theater or GSA or campus publications or a charity of some kind, because usually these groups are built with an infrastructure for integrating new people, will help you find common-minded friends, and if it’s something that has a cause instead of say, just like a club that hangs out together, you’ll have a project to work on, too, to get your mind off of how alien all of this feels. To the extent you have the energy, try not to give into the temptation to shut yourself away in your room. For one thing, it’s bad for you and will just create a feedback loop of isolation. For another, it’s hella rude to your roommate (if you have one, and this is a shared-bedroom dorm situation) because they will want private time to jerk it or fuck their partner or just sit around alone, too. 

I think something you should keep in mind though is that failure to land gracefully in college is not only expected, it’s understandable. My first semester in university I got a 2.2 GPA, spent a lot of time hurling in playground bushes, and went home almost every weekend because I was so miserable. I couldn’t pinpoint what the issue was, all I knew was that I wasn’t handling it well. Now, with the benefit and distance of years, I can make guesses at what changed to make that second semester and the rest of my college experience better, and it had a lot to do with becoming more involved in my activities beyond classes, making new friends, not just the one or two assholes who’d gone from my high school to my university, and feeling slowly, ever so slowly that I didn’t consciously notice the change at all, that I had a stronger, more solid footing upon which to build my life.

The process can be slow, and it can be difficult to find your place, but schools are great for that, college – more than a degree – can be a blessing because it’s a safe space for you to experiment with yourself. What do you want to do? What minor delinquencies do you want to try? Take up a new hobby! Become a version of yourself you haven’t tried before! Fall in love. Make out in the stacks. Get heart broken. Go to a kiss in. Fuck up. Fuck up badly. It’s all okay because you’re in school. And I know it feels, overwhelmingly, like high stakes, but this is oddly a place in your life where you will have the most elastic of boundaries, so let out a shaky breath, and know that it’ll take some time, but that you have that time, and that you can invent and reinvent along the way.

Also, and I don’t know how comforting this will be, I made my advice specific to college because it’s probably the BIGGEST “living alone” transition most people make. After that, all the other ones are still adjustments, but your toolbox for managing them will be more robust, and you’ll feel each one slightly less than the one before, or at least you will be in the position that most of adulthood just is, anyway, an accumulation of additional moments where you can look at the disaster zone of your life and think, “Okay. I can handle this. I’ve done this before.”

GOOD LUCK. HAVE AN AMAZING TIME. PLEASE DON’T JOIN THE ANARCHY CLUB THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS WERE SO ANNOYING AND USED TO PUT THEIR DUMB TABLE AT A POSITION I WOULD RUN INTO IT LITERALLY EVERY TIME I LEFT POLICY CLASS.

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East Coast Gazette has a terrible editorial focus and tends to use a lot of ALL CAPS but TOTALLY NOT BECAUSE OF HARRY POTTER. Stories in progress as well as snapshots will be listed in the "box full of snapshots" below, website archive for stories and assorted tomfoolery is glitterati.

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