I grew up in an itty, bitty, little dot-on-the-map town, that probably has close to about 500 people in it (to be honest, even this seems like an exaggeration) so tiny that we had to combine with two neighboring towns to form one high school, so I guess you could say I knew my classmates pretty well. I was having recess and eating Cheerios in elementary school with the exact same kids I was sneaking out and drinking with in high school, the only thing that changed was time.
High school friends are great, you stay the night at their houses, you befriend their parents, and you spend every waking hour communicating with them. You pretty much cocoon yourselves together in every possible way, wrapping up so tightly not even Excalibur could break you apart. That is, until the harsh reality starts to set in- people change. It’s a fact of life, we get older, we all grow, and unfortunately sometimes you don’t grow at the same pace with the people you once did. Graduation is the number one killer of 93.6% of all friendships (fact check me, I dare you). I remember thinking to myself when I was graduating, “I’m probably never going to see some of these people ever again,“ fun fact, I only had about 70 people in my class and to this day, that statement is still accurate. Sure, it’s sad, but we all go our different ways, and that’s ok. Do you know why that’s ok? Because it’s true what they say, the best is yet to come.
I have never found a love for anyone, the way I love the friends that I have met in college. These are the people that are all riding the same bumpy ramen-noodle-eating-road with you. We're all just wobbling drunkenly down the unsteady path of adulthood together, like toddlers taking their first steps, and although it feels like the world is going to open up and swallow us daily, it's pretty damn comforting to know that we're not alone. If one person is fed to the flame, you can bet your ass there is an army waiting to jump in after them, and those, my friends, are our soul mates; our aux cord stealin’, Taco Bell eaten’, late night G-Eazy rappin’ college best friends.
When you are away from your home and your parents for the first time, the world can be a terrifying place, so you take refuge in your college friends. You count on these people more than you’ve ever counted on anyone. They let you use their washing machines and eat the food out of their fridge, host 2 a.m. cram sessions with you, they'll pick you up after a mental breakdown, spot you cash, give you a place to crash, they talk with you about your future and your goals, and let you cry into their shoulders, they’ll bring you coffee and send you memes when you’re having a bad day, they take spontaneous trips with you, and offer to drop out and become a stripper with you if the whole college thing doesn’t end up working out; but aside from all of that, and most importantly, they love you. Not the you, you were when you were under your parents’ wing, the real adult version of who you are.
Choose your friends as if you are choosing an expensive wine, your energy is reflected off of those around you. I can’t thank God enough for surrounding me with the group of friends I have met in college. I wouldn’t go out, be involved, or know half of the people I do if it wasn’t for them. They push me in the best way possible. Every one of them is so special to me in their own way, and I, without a doubt, would do anything for any of them. Looking back, I’m not sure if I could say the same for some of the friends I had in high school (and that’s not to say I don’t love the people that I grew up and went to school with, because I do, my very best friend I have to this day I met in high school), but I can honestly say the relationships you make in college will change your life. We are an arms length away from the real world, and these connections we’re making in our lives right now could quite possibly last us an entire lifetime. Those types of bonds don’t just fade away, they are special. If you want to stay in someone’s life these days you have to make it apparent, you aren’t going to see them everyday like you did in high school; it requires real, honest-to-God effort to support a friendship now. I don't think there is anything more assuring than that, knowing your presence in someone’s life is appreciated so greatly.
To all of my friends out there, even if I don't say it quite enough, I love and appreciate you. Thank you for being you.