Keep Your Friends Close: The Value of a Small Community At UCF

by Alyssa Griffin

Many college students are able to find a greater community that gives them a sense of belonging, but for me that has not been the case. Growing up, I always imagined college was going to be a glorious experience where I would make so many new friends and there would be so many activities I would be a part of. I started at UCF in 2022, and was amazed by the plethora of clubs and on-campus activities that were available to participate in. After trying a few different clubs and participating in as many on-campus activities as my schedule allowed, I found that I still hadn’t made any meaningful connections with my peers. I wanted to find a niche that I fit in so desperately, but I ended up feeling estranged from everyone else instead. Even though I didn’t find my community with clubs and campus life like I had always imagined, I found my sense of community within my two childhood friends and partner instead.

At the beginning of my freshman year at UCF, I joined 4 clubs that connected with my interests. I figured that would be a great starting point for finding like-minded people that I could connect with. I attended many of the meetings for these clubs, and while I did find some enjoyment and interest in being there, I felt like I couldn’t connect with anyone. There was a time during a club meeting when I raised my opinion about a movie I was interested in, and nobody acknowledged me. They just continued talking about something else. This was a massive blow to my self-esteem. It seemed that everybody else had found their community already. I didn’t see how I could fit in.

Not being able to find a large community of people to belong to did not make the smaller community I was able to find any less valuable. A tiny home is just as strong as a large mansion.

Throughout this time, I had my partner and my roommate by my side to help me feel less alone. Although I felt deterred by my inability to make new connections with people, they were always there to spend time with me and showed that they valued what I had to say. My partner is incredibly loving and compassionate and was able to make me feel at home at UCF. Not being able to find a large community of people to belong to did not make the smaller community I was able to find any less valuable. A tiny home is just as strong as a large mansion.

Although my community is smaller than I had anticipated, the community I do have fills me with love and happiness and makes my time at UCF worthwhile. At times I felt like I was the only person at UCF who struggled connecting to a larger community, but in hindsight I realize that is not the case. I’m writing this article to connect with other people in my situation and let them know that they are not alone. Just because you couldn’t find a bigger community to belong to in college doesn’t mean that whatever community you do have is not worth it. Sometimes it’s easy to yearn for new friends and a new community so much that you overlook what connections you already have. It’s important to take a minute to appreciate all that you do have in your life and the people you already have that make you feel like you belong.

Our time in college is meant to be enjoyed. Live in the moment and don’t be afraid to continue to do things that make you happy even if they don’t provide any greater community to you. Spend time with the people who make you feel like you belong. Clubs are meant to bring people together and most of the time that is the case. In some instances, not every person in a club will feel like they are able to connect with each other and that’s okay. It’s worth it to attend events in college that make you happy or stimulate your interests. Finding a new community does not always need to be the biggest end goal. Do things with people you already find happiness with.