Like many other college students on this past weekend, I found myself at a fraternity party in an effort to remedy my cabin fever.
After a long trek from my off-campus house to Little Frat Court, I traded my scarf and gloves for a bright solo cup that matched the shade of my lipstick.
Hours passed as partygoers ebbed and flowed through the house, and the music shifted from the Billboard Top 40 to 90s hit singles. It was clear that the resident DJ was determined to get people dancing, even if he had to play Ignition Remix twice.
In the corner of the largest room downstairs sat a young man, all alone, sporting a studded leather jacket and spiked blonde hair. A wallflower of sorts, he stared at the ceiling, at the floor, at the inside of his cup, and back at the ceiling as he took a long sip.
Convinced that he needed a friend, I left my pals and proceeded to introduce myself.
As it turns out, his roommates had twisted his arm into braving the snow for this party. He was a freshman, a DJ, a North Carolina native, an undecided major. We joked about the music selection, about the dance moves of other partygoers, about the awkwardness of only knowing one other person at a party.
I felt compelled to bequeath my sage advice as a college senior, but his friends rescued him from my helicopter-mom tendencies before I got the chance.
Though I’ll probably never see him again on a campus of thousands of students, I hope that he might have been silently encouraged to behave the same way I did if he ever runs across a fellow wallflower. I hope this not only for him, but for all college students.
At no other point in your life will you have the security of a college social environment to provide an unlimited number of new faces and conversations to foster real connections with real people who are going through the same chapter of life as you are.
Being a part of the Carolina community for four years has taught me infinite lessons about the importance of connecting with other people. The mere existence of other people in the same vicinity as you is reason enough to reach out and treat them as human beings, no matter the size of the gesture.
While stranger danger has its merit in urban areas (looking at you, Franklin Street Waffle House circa 2 a.m.), I cannot overstate the value of reaching out and making someone feel important.
Even if they are wearing a studded jacket at a frat party? Especially if they are wearing a studded jacket at a frat party.
You’re here. You take up space. You matter. It’s just science.