If your first day of college is approaching, you’ve come to the right place. I’m about to tell you the story of how I became friends with some of my dearest friends – entirely by using pop culture references.
You know that whole thing about hiding your nerdiness in a closet? Well, don’t do it. We’re not living in a 90s film where the nerds and the geeks get scorned by the popular kids for liking things with magic and dragons. Hell, after Game of Thrones, that kind of stigma doesn’t exist anymore.
In college, you’re likely to find more people like you than you think.
I was going through orientation on my very first day of college and I met a girl my age who in the first five minutes exclaimed, “No shit, Sherlock!” twice. She had a curious phone case with some quote I didn’t recognize. An hour into our conversation, I subtly dropped the old Tumblr spy code; it’s a signal, a way to recognize people who belong to the same community, and something so random that an outsider would have no idea: “I like your shoelaces.” I took a leap and risked it all. It was summer, she was wearing sandals which clearly had no shoelaces. She could’ve thought I was positively insane, but luckily for me, she didn’t.
She gave me a sideways grin and nonchalantly replied, “Thanks. I stole them from the President.” At that point, I knew she was like me. We both started laughing, and the third person who had been involved in our conversation gave us funny looks. I asked both of them whether I could add them on Facebook, and my newfound fangirl sister had “Alec” as her middle name.
I remember that sensation of bliss when I asked her if the name was from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters Chronicles and she said yes (this was long before the tv show, mind you, and I had never found someone as passionate about the series IRL as I was on social media). Next, we exchanged numbers and Twitter accounts, and guess what? We had been mutuals for years. She instantly recognized my username and said she’d been a fan of my fanfiction forever. She even had a quote from one of my fics saved on her phone. Crazy, right?
We’ve been laughing and crying about innumerable books, television shows, films and Broadway musicals for the past years and I know that wherever life may take us, no matter how physically distant we could be, we’ll always share our sessions of crazy.
You want to hear about another time fandom introduced me to one of my best friends? It was the beginning of my junior year during lunchtime in a crowded college cafeteria. I was in line waiting to get my food and I spotted a girl I didn’t know wearing a Slytherin scarf. I must have been staring because she looked up and smiled at me. I was, incidentally, wearing a scarlet Hogwarts jumper. Three seconds later, we both blurted out what we were thinking: “love the house pride!” Who says that Gryffindors and Slytherins can’t be friends?
Clearly, they’re wrong. We stayed up every week to watch a show where our OTP never gets together (you know the one) and sing all the words to Starkid’s A Very Potter Musical and speculate on people’s Hogwarts houses.
The three of us – along with other nerd friends that I met in similar comical scenarios – went on to found a Fandom Club at our university, to bring together people from all fandoms and discuss our current obsessions, watch and read things together, and share feels. We’ve organized so many events where we sat together and talked for hours about how a piece of media impacted us and the world. We went to cons, did cosplay photoshoots and invented fun games. We hosted theme parties and involved the entire student body. We’ve met so many fangirls and fanboys who introduced us to so many new things. I wouldn’t have met my crazy friends that I cry about dead fictional characters with if I’d never made that silly Tumblr joke on my first day.
So my advice for your first day – or first day back! – is to step out of your comfort zone, explore, challenge and dare. It’s the only way to start fresh.