Community in college was difficult for me. I was constantly comparing my new friends to my old friends. I often chose staying in over going out. And I rarely spent time getting to know someone because I was jumping from one social-circle to the next.

If I could go back and do it over again—to ensure that I made real, meaningful connections—this is what I would do differently:

I would have said “yes” more.

When friends asked me to go watch a movie on the quad, I would have closed my laptop and gone with them. When my roommate wanted to enter a costume contest to win tickets to Disneyland, I would have gone to Goodwill with her to find the perfect outfit…because guess what? She won that contest and I wish I would’ve been there to celebrate her victory. When professors asked us to go volunteer in the city, I wish I had grabbed my work gloves and reached outside my comfort zone to make new friends with a similar interest in social justice.

To make friends, you have to put yourself out there. And to put yourself out there, you have to say “yes” to new opportunities.

I would have planted myself in one friend group.

I bounced around from person to person, different friend group to different friend group thinking I needed to explore ALL my options. But instead, I wish I had found a group of friends and given them my ALL. Once I found my people, I needed to stay committed. I had many acquaintances and few friends. I was lonely in a crowd of familiar faces. If I had invested time and energy into one group of people, I would have witnessed a depth where we weren’t just sharing adventures, but we were sharing ourselves.

Friends in college have the potential to change your life for the better if you let them. Learn from my mistakes, and keep an open-mind to making and keeping new friends in college.