One year ago, I was a high school senior in my final semester of life as I knew it. I had hit my stride. Every day I knew exactly what to expect. Although, in the back of my mind, I was extremely aware of the time slipping away. I found myself rotating back and forth between two emotions: excitement and anxiety.
I remember the night we all said goodbye. We met in the Dairy Queen parking lot for 30 minutes, and I remember thinking to myself that things would never be the same. Looking back, that was pretty melodramatic, but I'll cut myself a break.
I was so fixated on that fact that in a few short months my friends and I would be separated that I couldn’t enjoy the time we had left. Little did I know, freshman year of college would teach me a lot about friendship.
You don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone.
Here’s something you don’t always hear-- the first few months of college are hard. Sure, you’re having fun and meeting new people, but you forget that it takes time to form deep friendships with people. It’s a long process that comes with a lot of awkward in-between.
For me, a lot of people in my high school friend group ended up going to the same college. It was really hard for me at the beginning of the year because while I was struggling to make new friends, they got to hang out together. That was probably the most severe FOMO I have ever experienced.
Some people cope with the newness by going home every weekend. I don’t want to delegitimize this coping method, but every time you go home and come back, you have to start adjusting all over again. While you’re away you definitely you miss the people from home, but what you’re longing for isn’t just the people-- it’s the way things used to be.
Instead of dwelling on what you can’t get back, let it motivate you to get out and talk to new people. I do something awkward every day in the pursuit of making friends, ya just gotta roll with it.
Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
Not being able to see someone for a long time makes you see them in a different light. At the beginning of the year, it’s easy to say you’re going to call someone every week or a group of you are going to talk on Houseparty every so often. As time goes on, more often than not those promises start to fall through. Don’t take it too hard.
I think the lesson I learned through my long distance friendships is that it isn’t how often you talk to someone, it’s about what you say when you do. Maybe you only talk to them on their birthday, maybe you randomly snapchat them at 2 in the morning every couple of months, and maybe you call them every day-- it’s important to check up on people and let them know that even though you spend your time with other people in a different place, you’re still thinking of them.
It’s impossible to know every detail about their lives, which can be a difficult adjustment, but it makes the time you do spend together even more important.
Your decisions are entirely your own.
In July of last year, I had no piercings, no tattoos, and no individuality.
The high school I went to was a really small community, and there were many aspects of that closeness that I loved. In retrospect, it’s easy for me to see the ways that I was held back. I hesitated to make changes, and I don’t think it’s because I was pressured into fitting into the crowd.
I think I was just so wrapped up in the ideology of the people around me that it didn’t occur to me that so much of who I was was tied to other people. Once those people were gone I really missed them, but I also got to spend some quality time by myself.
I went from not knowing how to use public transportation to bussing to a new coffee shop every weekend. Being dropped in a new city with no one I knew was a perfect opportunity for me to decide who I am.