If you’re feeling annoyed, or exhausted, or overwhelmed by Welcome Week, let me be the first to say, okay. That’s normal. That’s just fine.
One of the strongest memories I have of my Welcome Week is waking up on Sunday morning, scrolling through my phone, and realizing that I had no idea who most of my new contacts were.
I had spent the week frenetically meeting people and making fast friends and trying to do it right. In reality, I spent the next few months awkwardly eyeing people in the hallways whom I only vaguely recognized. It’s events like MacConnecter where, thanks to insubstantial 30-second interactions, ironically, you don’t connect with anyone at all.
And when I got tired of mindless cheering, or wanted a little bit of time to myself to unpack, or didn’t want to be danced up on by a loud rep for the zillionth time, I felt like I was being perceived as a boring, negative person. I felt like I would never make friends.
I get that it’s all fun and games and designed to bring people out of their shells. And to the most part, it accomplishes that goal. But there is very little room for diverse personalities in the Welcome Week approach.
Take Superfrosh, for example. We celebrate a male and female Superfrosh for every faculty, which essentially boils down to finding the loudest, most obnoxious and hyperactive teenager around, and telling everyone that they epitomize the first year ideal. Which is frustrating when one is overwhelmed, feeling alone, and is even mildly introverted.
I’m not pushing for alternative programming. We have plenty of quieter coffee houses and movie nights that are designed for the calmer person – if you’re not too exhausted by traditional WW activities to go. Rather, I’m calling for a change in attitude about what a good frosh experience means.
Coming to university provides the unique chance to reinvent yourself from who you were in high school. You can be anyone you want to be, can start over, can make totally new friends. And you shouldn’t feel limited by the narrow definition of confident first year that Welcome Week seems to insist upon.
Maybe you’ve attended every event and loved them; maybe you’re a little disillusioned but still having fun; maybe you haven’t attended a single Welcome Week event yet. What I want you to know is that it doesn’t matter – you’ll still make friends, be happy, and have an awesome year. It’ll be the little things that form friendships, like games of cards in the common room, and late night Centro runs, and walking with people to class.
Five years ago, I arrived on campus as a buzzing cocktail of excitement, nervousness and determination: McMaster was going to be fun and I would get good grades and make lots of friends and have the best time ever. And, in fact, I did. But that success was despite – not because – of how Welcome Week made me feel.