On my first day of class in Russian Lit (yeah, I know, who takes Russian Lit over the summer? This girl!), my professor told the class of 7 that we would all become pretty good friends.
Now, I’m not sure if he was including himself in that grouping, but I hate when people say this at the beginning of anything. Or when they say it anytime during any long-term group interactions. Why? Because it just it’s like a third party saying to you on your first date with a man or woman “hey, you two are going to get married.”
That’s just way too much pressure. Now if any friendships happen, you don’t know if it’s obligatory friendships or real friendships.
Speaking of forming friendships, lately I’ve been a little stressed on making friends for the summer and abroad this fall. Hell, the last time I’ve had to completely revamp my social circle was freshman year almost 4 years ago! And that took 2 years to get right.
I’ve never really been the person to completely put my “real personality” out there for some reason. There are a lot of formalities to go through before I actually let loose. But I’ve been getting better at it for the sole reason of cutting down the time it takes to find who you really want to be with.
See, friendships are a lot like relationships. You want to find the right fit. You don’t want to settle for the first balding, grease-covered, 40-year-old you see. If you’re rowdy and weird you don’t want to find yourself shackled to a bunch of people who merely tolerate your weirdness. You want to find yourself people who add and enhance it.
But if you find yourself in a situation where you’re panicking about finding a group right away, this will put pressure on you to cling to the first group of people you find. See: me freshman year.
Freshman year I was basically a friend slut. I did not discriminate at all, which I guess is what you’re supposed to do. Unfortunately, my time of nondiscrimination only lasted the first few weeks. After that, I stopped branching out and stuck with the group of people that I’d already met and kinda grew comfortable with.
To this day, where I’m still actively interacting with new people etc, I regret that. I regret not joining clubs that I was interested in—wait, scratch that. Actually I did join clubs I was interested in (ballroom, badminton… I guess I was fond of the Bs), I just regret the type of people that was also drawn to these interests.
Instead, I should’ve been like my friend, Anne. I still remember her first few weeks of college. She was miserable. She didn’t find anyone she could connect with while everyone around her was already congealing into cliques. Finally, during her third week, she met the people who are now her best friends. And these people fit her so well and gave her exactly the experiences she wanted out of college.
If only I had toughed it out and was more comfortable being with myself for a little longer before I clung onto the few people around me—I literally only interacted with people in my hall and the hall above me—maybe I’d have different friends right now. But I’ve grown to love the ones I have now, even if they are a little basic.
I’m not saying not to talk and interact with anyone and everyone you meet. I’m just saying the ones that you finally choose to go to the bars with, to invite over for bonfires (I have a lot planned for this summer, ok?) should be the ones that fit you most of all. All the other ones can float comfortably at a distance as acquaintances.
But as I sit here alone in my room, hearing the bass thumping from yet another house party on the block, I wonder if I’m approaching things wrong. I don’t know how else to, though, since most people that stay on campus during the summer that are my age already have friends also staying.
I’m always guilty of using my current conditions to predict future outcomes. Like now. If I can’t make friends in my own native language as an isolated unit this summer, doesn’t that mean I can’t make friends with people abroad who speak completely different languages?
But I remind myself that if I can’t find people I love to surround myself with, I can always work on learning a new skill or improving myself in some way. After all, this alone phase happens all the time in life—it’s going to continue happening in pretty frequent intervals after graduation until I settle somewhere, so I might as well embrace it and learn.
This summer, I have enough on my hands to keep me busy—internship, job, classes—yet also enough room if I find a few people. This fall, I’ll remind myself that I can always travel while I’m there, perhaps making fellow traveler friends, relish the experience of living and learning a foreign culture, and come away with having studied abroad.
What about you? Where do you find your friends? Do you prefer to wait or do you rush in?