Double Sunrise Young Women's Health: early teen to college years


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CollegeHealth

Relationships: Staying Connected in College

As women, we rely on healthy connections (relationships) to grow from. Especially when starting a new school, students are often geographically separated from your support system, which are your (extended) family and friends. This is especially difficult for students during "the gap" when it's too early for friendships to yet be developed. This, along with academic pressures and the sometimes competitive nature of college environments, can leave young woman feeling alone.

Myth:
"I'm in college now. I should be able to handle things on my own."

Contemporary researchers at the Wellesley Center for Research of Women explain that traditional literature describes the primary task of moving from adolescence to young adulthood is to become autonomous, to break off family ties, and to individuate and separate. Their research findings are very different, demonstrating that this does not fit young women's mode of growth (and further studies indicate that this is true for everyone!). Contemporary researchers say that for young women to enhance her sense of self as competent, able and empowered toward the fullest utilization of her abilities... she must be connected to (not separated from) healthy relationships.

How do I find good friends at college?
One of the problems with being at a new school is that it takes time to develop trusting, healthy relationships, and time isn't yet on your side. It's a fact... finding good friends takes time. Rushing off to quick invitations to parties probably isn't the way to meet good friends. Try to be patient, and keep your eyes open to meet friends. (There's many other young women out there looking for a good friend like you.)

Here's some tips:

  1. Find a routine that you enjoy - a walk after class, dinner in the evening at 6:00pm, working out in the gym on Saturdays. You can often meet people doing the same activity because they enjoy it too.

  2. If you're lonely, sometimes it helps to go places where there are other people alone too (especially on a Friday night) like a book store that invites browsing, or a gym to work out in. Find out when services and events are held at a place of worship. Somehow being by yourself, with others feels less lonely.

  3. Look for a group at school to join. If it is something you enjoy, then you'll share something in common with everyone else in the group!

  4. Reach out to friends and family that love you. Even a brief and friendly connection from home can go along way. Go to a store to buy a couple of cards for those special people you love that "says it all".

  5. If there's no one around, take this time to do activities that nurture you. Take a nice long shower, listen to music that cheers you up, do your nails, or write in your journal.

  6. Develop a relationship...with yourself. Cuddle up with your comforter and draw, sketch, read poetry or even create your own. You'll never go wrong learning to love hanging out with yourself!

  7. Judy Pierson, a Boston counselor who has worked with many college women, suggests to strike a balance between extending yourself to meet new friends and spending time alone. Take at least one risk to reach out each day and alternate between reaching out and contacting friends and family at home. This is a good way to ease into college life.

  8. I often ask young women, "What qualities do you look for in a good friend or adult that you like to be with?" List in your journal people you have a respectful and healthy relationship with and the qualities of these people that you trust. By identifying these characteristics, you may recognize them more quickly as you meet new people at college.

  9. Be knowledgeable about how to contact school counselors and health services. I have visited these centers in many colleges thruout the Northeast, and find most very caring and hoping students reach out to them when lonely. If you are struggling, reach out, as it's the best move you can make.

    Written 9/00
    Revised11/24/02

If you are feeling suicidal or unsafe now or need immediate help: Dial 911 or the operator and just ask for help or go to your nearest hospital Emergency Room.

Keeping connected in order to grow


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