How I Found a Community on Campus by Breaking Out of My Comfort Zone

My freshman year at Lehigh University can easily be categorized as the happiest year of my life thus far. To any anxious incoming freshman out there: I get you. 

I was terrified for school to start and spent every minute leading up to move-in day worrying about how I would mimic the comfortable life I had in my hometown. Arguably, what I found to be the most empowering part of my experience at Lehigh was the uncomfortability I experienced. The only way to get comfortable on your college campus is to be a little uncertain at first and embrace everything that you usually wouldn’t.

I was able to find a community at Lehigh through countless experiences that have completely shaped my college experience for the better, and none of which I would have been able to have if I was caught up in the comfortability I was worried about finding. Involvement on campus can take many different shapes and is totally up to what you find yourself attracted to. 

Even before you come to school, I recommend reaching out to anyone you think has something in common with you. Best case scenario: you foster a friendship with someone new before even stepping on campus. Worst case scenario: you have a friendly face to recognize on campus. 

Remember that everyone is in the same boat: most likely scared and at least a little bit lonely at first. I “met” my previous roommate and one of my best friends by adding her on Snapchat after noticing a friend of mine from sleepaway camp was from the same town as her (shoutout Kerry). I can’t even begin to think about how different my year would have been without her and the friendship we formed, so don’t be shy to reach out! You never know how it’ll work out in the long run unless you give it a try. 

Kate Turkeltaub and her college friends!

Another way to mimic normalcy in a new environment is to maintain some of your old hobbies. For me, that meant getting involved in a club sport. I played Water Polo throughout high school, and I love the team comradery . Before even getting to college, I had decided that club sports were something I was going to push myself to get involved in, as they would be a great way to stay in shape as well as meet new people. 

After joining the Water Polo team, I can say that it gave me an outlet to explore new opportunities and allowed me to be involved in a way that an academic club or social group could not have. It was something I could use to keep myself occupied in times of stress and further motivate myself to manage my time and work better. So look into joining a team or club sport! It was a great outlet for me to distract myself from academic and social pressure, and it kept me healthy!

A huge way in which I was able to branch out was through Greek life on campus. While it may not be appealing to everyone, I found an entire network of people that I never would have met otherwise. While I was lucky in the sense I had met a solid core group of friends first semester, my sorority really helped me step outside of my comfort zone and put myself out to meet new people. I was completely unsure of the process at the beginning of the semester, and was filled with doubt and uncertainty about whether I had made the right choice. Now, I have an entire community of women who all support each other in anything and everything they choose to do. Had I not gone through the recruitment process, I would have been closing myself off to endless opportunities and possibilities. While the process can be overwhelming, it’s worth it.  

So, when you come to campus, get ready to be uncomfortable. And remember: the best is yet to come. You just have to be willing to work for it.

Courtesy of: Kate Turkeltaub

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