Let’s face it: cliques suck. Most people have probably experienced the negative side of them at some point in their lives—middle school drama, the high school ‘popular’ group, so on and so forth. Being excluded is arguably one of the hardest things adolescents have to deal with. We were all so ready to leave that behind upon graduation: I don’t know about you, but I was always told that ‘popular’ kids don’t exist in college. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean that cliques disappear altogether.
They just change.
Instead of being outed from the lunch table or missing the invite to a sleepover, you might lose a friend when they get accepted to a program that you get cut from or join an activity that doesn’t interest you. Your circle of friends might find out they have more in common with each other than with you. Friendships won’t typically end abruptly, but some of them will fade slowly until you realize you’re on the outs.
The fact of the matter is that friendship in college is voluntary. Because schedules are largely individualized, who you spend time with is up to you. The flip side of that, however, is that people don’t have to spend time with you if they don’t want to.
And that can sting. No one likes to feel like a second choice.
There is a bright side to this, however: college is the ideal setting for forming authentic friendships. It is much easier to figure out who your real friends are because they are the same people that will go out of their way to be around you. Your circle of friends is going to change over these 4 years. Chances are that the people you hang out with first semester of your freshman year are not going to be your best friends come graduation—and that’s okay.
You don’t have to hate the people you drifted from; remember that they are likely going through the same thing as you. They are finding ‘their people’ just as you are.
Use these years to really get to know yourself: join the things you want to join, do the things you want to do, and spend time around people that make you happy. The relationships that are born from these things are worth so much more than superficial ones or friendships of convenience.
Time to find your clique!