The end of August 2019 came quickly.
A once insanely socially anxious girl struggling to find her solid group of friends had somehow pulled it together, and spent day after day rejoicing with her then-friend group to celebrate what mature high school graduates they had become.
It took me until after graduating from a school of 2,500 students in a town I had lived in my whole life to be content with myself. I had finally found my people, so how was I supposed to leave them? I cried for weeks leading up to my freshman year of college, unsure of how I would be able to emulate these same relationships.
I wish someone would have told me to stop overthinking and that everything would work itself out. It always does.
The thought of leaving behind the life I knew for Lehigh was daunting.
I was involved in a variety of extracurriculars in high school, had a consistent group of friends and secured a spot at Lehigh in December. Even so, my success came at a cost to my mental health. I struggled with more anxiety and depression than you may expect from a teenager growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut, with little to worry about.
Spending more time in the library than with friends, I struggled to find balance. I spent most of my Friday nights locked in my bedroom watching Netflix, hoping to ease my mind in the privacy of my childhood bedroom.
For longer than I’d like to admit, I thought Hamilton College in rural Clinton, New York, was the place I wanted to call home for the next four years. The liberal arts college had an enrollment of just over 1,500, significantly smaller than my large high school, and I believed a small school would allow me to find deeper and more meaningful relationships.
Luckily, I changed my mind on a whim one night in September after having a slight mental breakdown in the Greenwich Public Library and texted my college counselor that I had to get into Lehigh.
And thank god I did.
While most first-year students face routine challenges throughout their first few weeks of college, my roommate and I immediately found solace in each other and two other girls in my hall. I made two more friends through an introduction from a mutual friend at home and his next-door neighbor. The six of us immediately became best friends, giving the term a new meaning I never truly understood before.
My circle has since expanded, yet the consistency in quality remains. The people I have met at Lehigh are truly unlike any others. Although “amazing” may be a cliche, it is the most accurate.
My old routine of watching television alone in my room was quickly replaced by daily meals at Rathbone and nightly meetings to trade clothes for the night out ahead of us.
Supported in a way I had never been before, the introverted and type-A personality I embodied throughout high school transitioned to a more comfortable and confident one.The weight I had felt crushing me for the last ten years lifted away with the help of this new support system.
So, when the six of us decided to live together our senior year, why wouldn’t I want to share a room with one of my best friends?
I am typically met with disbelief when I explain, “Yes, I am a 21-year-old college student and still sleep adjacent to my freshman-year roommate.”
While untraditional, I love sharing a room. I love the constant yet peaceful company of co-living, regardless of the occasional lack of privacy. When comfortable around them, the presence of another person feels more like an extension of self than an intruder on your personal space.
A deep-rooted fear of insecurity begs the question of why I deserve the close bonds I have found at Lehigh and how I was able to attain them. Yet, no longer relishing in the tranquil moments I find alone, my time alongside others reminds me of the unconditional love I now know I deserve regardless of what I may internally dwell upon.
I am grateful for the daily support I will receive from others long past graduation in May. Being a student is one of the last times I’ll be able to replicate the relationships that are fueled by sharing close quarters.
My time in Greenwich is now consumed by me talking about how much I love college, how much I love my college friends and how much I love Lehigh. And, now, how saddened I’ll be to leave it.
I still enjoy my alone time on the quiet side of FML or back in my childhood bedroom in Greenwich over breaks. But for now, I’d rather sit downstairs in my living room and wait for someone to join me than be secluded in bed and miss out on any given moment of the last few months in the place that has given me so much.