I Couldn't Survive College Without My College Friends

I Couldn't Survive College Without My College Friends

Yes, this is just one giant appreciation post, but just let me have this one.
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Throughout most of my life, I've been blessed with an amazing group of friends. I've felt lonely at times, but I've never failed to be reminded of the love I have with my friends when I most need it.

Friendship is incredibly important.

Sometimes, there are some things that friends do for you that no one else can do. They're often in the exact same positions as you; they know what you've been through, and they know what you need to hear. They know you, most importantly.

Sometimes, the advice that your friends can offer, no one else can.

Sometimes, the comfort they provide, no one else can.

Sometimes, they say, "Shit, me too, man," and that's enough.

Sometimes, they're just there for you, to hold your hand and tell you to relax. And most of the time, that's really important.

Sunday night, I had just come through a particularly stressful weekend, full of studying and crying and emotional baggage and panic attacks. Clearly, college is difficult. It can be too much at times, and you can feel overwhelmed and lost and scared. (And that's ok, as long as you don't quit.)

So, yes, that weekend was terrible for me. I was at the point of tears when conversation among my friends somehow came around to stress and losing weight because of it. I mentioned that I had lost 15 pounds in a month. Not an exaggeration. I was met with incredulous looks.

"That's not normal, dude."

No, it's most definitely not. It's because of stress, because of not eating, because of walking more than I used to, because of dance practice maybe... I don't know why.

But I do know that one day about a week ago, I looked up in the mirror and I realized that I didn't recognize myself. I really didn't. I didn't know whose face that was, because mine has always been rounder, with less-sunken eyes, with a smile, with less acne, with... And now? I don't look like me at all.

What's happened to me? Am I really just not adjusting to college as well as I could be? That's probably it. Am I not cut out for it? No, that's probably not it. I'm probably just taking longer to figure myself out.

I'd been feeling these conflicting, racing thoughts for so long, and Sunday night, I spilled them to my friends. A few close, trusted friends. (Yes, I've only known them for a month and a half, but they already feel like family to me.)

So, I told them, and they dropped their work to talk to me about this. They helped me realize that I need to stop worrying so much. That no matter what, my mental health comes first. They gave me my much-needed pep talk. They asked me what they could do to help.

They asked me what they could do to help.

When I said it wasn't their responsibility, they responded with, "We love you, and it's not a responsibility. We care about you and want you to be happy. It's not a responsibility, it's what we want to do."

What do you say to that? What an amazing group of people. Friends are so important. These simple words filled my heart with a kind of love that in that moment was greatly, greatly needed. These people have truly become my home away from home and have become my support system.

They're going through the same stresses and they've felt the same pressures, and they know how to help. They know what to do. They put my problems into perspective for me. What would I do without them?

This is why friendship is so important. I will be grateful for that conversation for a very, very long time. Because of them, because of the conversation we had, I've re-prioritized and realized that I need to put my health first, my sleep first, my diet first, my time to unwind first.

Yes, school is difficult, but one or two bad grades will not be the end of me. This is what they've taught me.

They've reminded me to laugh when I needed it, they've supplied ample hugs when I was feeling down. What's most incredible to me, though, is that they've stood by me through all of it. Through my varied ups and downs at college so far, they've been there for me. And wow, that's amazing. Thank you for not abandoning me. I love you guys.

To that end, I preach, always give your friends the value and respect they deserve. Always give them time, always listen and be there to help and support no matter what.

People and friendships will last much longer (and be much more rewarding) than any grade or project ever will. Tell your friends you love them. Always.

Cover Image Credit: Riya Gupta

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4 Reasons Why Dads Threatening Their Daughters' Boyfriends Aren't Funny

No guns, threats, or creepy infringement on their privacy necessary.
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This week, former NFL player Jay Feely caught Twitter's attention by posting a picture with his daughter and her prom date and a handgun.

While the comedic undertones of the photo are obvious, Twitter had a lot to say about the picture and most people weren't happy.

He has since issued a statement of clarification after the tweet went viral, acknowledging that gun safety is an important issue and clarifying that he was in fact joking. Unfortunately, though, the damage had already been done.

Feely is far from the only dad who's ever made this joke. It's a largely prevalent theme specifically among gun owners and in country music. Check out the song "Cleaning This Gun" for another example. It's catchy, I have to admit, I just listened to it again voluntarily the other day even though I don't agree with the central message.

But what's really the matter with this picture? After all, it's just dads being dads, right? Wrong. The political, historical, and gender-specific rhetoric behind the idea of dads protecting their daughters by threatening their boyfriends have all combined to create a lot of things wrong with this picture. Here are 4 of them.

1. Gun violence is no laughing matter

This theme has come up over and over and over again this year but it's one that continues to be relevant and timely. Gun violence is a very real issue, with thousands of deaths, dozens of mass shootings, and deep political biases, making it far from a joke. While there is a major difference between the handgun in Feely's picture and the assault weapons that have been at the center of recent mass shootings, threatening to shoot someone, particularly an unarmed teenager, is just poor humor.

2. Parents do not get a say in their daughters' sexual choices

From chastity rallies at churches to purity balls entrusting their sexual purity to their dads to presenting "virginity certificates" to dads at weddings (hint, you can't medically prove someone's a virgin), parents' obsession with their daughters' sexual behaviors, not their sons', mind you, just their daughters, is creepy, intrusive, and disgusting.

Decisions about whether or not to engage in sexual activity, at any point from high school to marriage and on to the rest of their lives, is up to the two people involved, not the parents, the church, the government, or any outside parties. By reinforcing the idea that the parent is in control of these decisions that their kids are supposed to make for themselves, parents like these are perpetuating archaic ideals, destroying the trust their children have in them, and setting them up for destructive sexual behavior down the line.

3. There is an extremely obvious (and dangerous) sexual double standard between boys and girls

While young women are told to guard their purity and that engaging in sexual activity makes them less worthwhile people, boys are encouraged to use sexual conquests to assert their dominance and their behaviors are not focused on nearly as much by parents, religious organizations, or sexual education programs.

If women are taught to remain virginal until marriage and homosexuality is frowned down upon, who exactly are these boys supposed to be having sexual conquests with? Beats me.

4. Sexual repression and rape culture go hand-in-hand

These parents criticize their daughters for participating in safe, monogamous sexual relationships but do not give the same attention and threats to people that threaten their wellbeing. By teaching your daughter that she can't trust you, you're setting her up for trouble down the line.

While this entire situation could be passed off as a harmless joke that got a little out of hand, it's obvious that the problems run deep and can have a lasting effect, especially on the girl at the center of the "joke." Bottom line, trust your kids. Believe that they have the self-respect and the critical thinking skills to make healthy relationship decisions and support them in making them. No guns, threats, or creepy infringement on their privacy necessary.

Cover Image Credit: Jay Feely: Twitter

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Don't Be A Freak And GO GREEK

FREAKS AND GREEKS.
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Hey everyone!

For this weeks article, I wanted to share a speech I gave for my rhetoric class regarding Greek Life. The type of speech I gave is called a Jeremiad. A Jeremiad is a type of speech in which we try to inform the society of a problem or a complaint and ways to fix it. Regarding Greek Life, we tend to find reasons to bash on the community, so I wanted to remind us why this community is so extremely amazing, and why everyone should pledge. Enjoy!

Why should you pledge next year? Well let me tell you. But first, let me tell you a bit about myself. I grew up in a very Greek life oriented family. My Dad was a Sigma Chi and my mom was an Alpha Phi at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In addition, my brother, a junior at the University of Iowa, is a Sigma Chi. With this being said, I was destined to be a part of Greek life, too. And thank god I did. I am telling you to pledge because you will make friends that become family, create opportunities for the real world, and become extremely involved in the community.

Coming in Freshmen year, only knowing three kids from my high school, didn’t give me much of a head start on having lots of friends. Seeing my friends snap chat stories of their first few weeks of college at the University of Minnesota made me jealous. They all had each other, they all had friends. After rushing, it reminded me why I went to the University of Iowa.

The process of rushing, for girls, is rigorous. I can’t tell you it won’t be stressful, scary, tiring, and long; HOWEVER, if you trust the process, and stay positive, it is totally worth it.

Rushing, takes two weeks in total. I had to talk to each sorority, and if they liked me and I liked them I kept going back to their house. Each round the list of houses I went back to kept getting smaller and smaller, until I had two houses left. On the last day of rushing, I find out which house, out of my two options, gave me a bid.

Bid day starts off with sitting on our bid cards for thirty minutes. After the anxiety ridden 30 minutes are over, PHC counts down from ten… 10… people are getting anxious, 5… people are starting to sweat… 3 people can’t believe it isn’t one yet… 1… cards are ripped open, tears are shed, girls are screaming, hugging, finding their sisters. This day affects the next four years of your life and it will be the best four years of your life.

There are 54 girls in my pledge class and 157 girls in my sorority. That means I have 157 sisters that are going to be my life long friends. All the girls in my house are so similar; yet so different. We all have different stories to share and different experiences to bring to the table. Bailey Johnson, a Greek Life advocate, in a blog post writes, “Being in a sorority means that you'll have the biggest group of supporters around. Whether they're your #1 fan when you have exciting news, eating a gallon of ice cream and watching chick flicks with you after a breakup, or taking care of you when your night has been a little bit too crazy, they will always stand behind you and cheer you on. Your sisters want you to be happy and will always do whatever they can to be sure that you are.” I want the girls in Alpha Phi to be in my wedding. I love these girls with my whole heart. They are my best friends. They are my family. In addition, not only have I met girls in my sorority, I have met so many amazing girls and boys in other sororities/fraternities, too. Overall, the amount of people I have met through this community is incredible. And telling you I love them with my whole heart is an understatement.

By being a part of the Greek community, creates so many opportunities to make connections once you are out of college. A senior in my sorority was offered an executive position through alpha phi international for this upcoming fall. Without being involved in Greek Life, this opportunity would not have been presented to her. By going greek we have the opportunity to learn how to communicate with all different types of people, which, in the end, will prep you for the real world when finding a job. Career expert, Vivki Salemi states, “Greek life recruitment season primes you for social skills and emotional intelligence that employer’s covet. In addition Greek affiliation could be used as a networking tool and including it on a resume shows that a candidate is well-rounded and able to balance multiple responsibilities.” There are 9 million people in the United States that are affiliated with Greek Life, that means that there are 9 million connections one could make to grow their business, and find success in the professional world. You learn skills that are imperative to landing a job while having the best time of your life just by being associated with Greek Life.

While many people stereotype frats and sororities, we forget how much the Greeks are involved in the community. At the University of Iowa alone we have raised over $805,000 through philanthropies for charitable organizations. Some of the organizations include, Children’s Miracle network hospitals, Huntsman Cancer Institute, St. Jude and American Heart association. Not only do we benefit the community, we strive to excel in academics at the University of Iowa. In order to stay in the chapter, it is required to have a certain GPA. If you are under a 3.0 you are on academic probation and if you continue to be below a 3.0 GPA for more than one semester, your membership may be terminated. While, yes, fraternities and sororities like to have a good time, we take school very seriously. In fact, in order to be able to attend events, you must attend a certain amount of educational lectures, and volunteer a certain amount of hours per semester.

As Greek Life continues to be talked down, and reprimanded, it is our job to change it around. I’m asking you to pledge and make a difference in the community. Get away from the connotation that talks down Greek life. Our reputation can be changed. We can change the headlines about fraternities and sororities to all the good things we do, like raise millions of dollars for charitable organizations, rather than freak accidents that could happen to any child at any school Greek life affiliated or not. I’m asking you to pledge because it will be the best decision of your entire life. I’m asking you to pledge because without pledges Greek life will be gone. I’m asking you to pledge because you meet your best friends and family. I’m asking you to pledge because it’s great for real world experience. I’m asking you to pledge because it’ll make these next 4 years of your life, the best four years of your life. So just remember… don’t be a freak and go Greek.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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