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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An Open Letter to the Best Friend I Didn't See Coming

Some people come into your life and change you forever—thanks, bestie.
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Dear best friend,

I wasn't expecting you when God placed you in my life. I had my friends. I had my people. I wasn't exactly open to the idea of new meaningful friendships because I had the ones I needed, and it didn't seem like I really needed anybody new.

Thank God that was false. Sometimes you meet people and you just know that you're going to be good friends with. Sometimes you meet people and you realize that there is no such thing as chance. I think God has a funny way of making it seem as if the things that happen to us are by chance, but honestly, that’s a load of crap. If the biggest moments of our lives were left up to chance, then I believe that would make God out to seem as if he didn’t care. It would make it seem as if He was truly abandoning me and making me face some of my most important seasons fully isolated. But you, best friend, are a true testament to the fact that God doesn’t just leave such important aspects up to chance. Thank you for taking a chance on our friendship, and thank you for allowing me to take a chance on what I didn’t realize would be the most impactful friendship in my entire life.

Thank you for being real with me. Thank you for not sugar coating things. Thank you for telling me when I have a bad attitude. Thank you for loving me through my mistakes. Thank you for supporting me in my decisions, even if it isn’t always the decision you would make. Thank you for wanting the best for me, and for making that your true intent behind the words that you say to me, whether they be constructive criticism or encouragement.

Thank you for being a goof with me. Thank you for putting me first. Thank you for seeing the importance of our friendship. Thank you for making time in your schedule for us to just sit and do homework, eat Mexican food, or sit on the porch and listen to music that emotionally wrecks you.

You’re one of a kind. You’re a shoulder to lean on. You’re a safe place. You’re a free spirit. You’re rough and tough, but your heart melts for the people you love and it’s obvious. You’re more than meets the eye. You are worth getting to know. You are worth loving. You pursue people. You are passionate about your future. You are everything that a person needs, and I really thank God that for some reason you continue to choose to be in my life. Thank you for literally dragging me up my mountains of fear when I want to stay exactly where I am at and wallow in the sadness. You bring joy—true joy—wherever you go. You are my best friend, confidant, and biggest fan. You will be the Maid of Honor, Godmother, and fun Aunt.

I used to think lifelong friendships weren’t really a thing. It just seemed like people always grew apart and forever was never a point that was attainable. Best friends forever is a cliché phrase that is continuously overused nowadays (sometimes, I even used to make light of it), but thanks for making that a reality. You are truly the best friend I could have asked for. So thank you for it all. You make life more fun, and I couldn’t thank God more for making an incredible human, friends with me.

I love you, pal!

JQ

Cover Image Credit: Julia Dee Qualls

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4 ways to become a better friend

It's not hard to be a good friend, but taking these tips into consideration will make it even easier.

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Friendship is something worth valuing, and in today's selfish society, it is hard to come by good friends. Hopefully, with these tips, it will help people see that it is simple to be a good friend. All it really takes is compassion and regard for your friends' feelings.

Most importantly, be the kind of friend you want to have yourself, and provide your friends with the same energy and attention you would appreciate in return from them.

1. Listen closely.

It's easy to be distracted by our own thoughts because of how many we produce. Yet, when someone is talking to you, try your absolute best to listen fully, and push out all the other meaningless stuff filling your head. Not just to hear what they're saying and provide a simple response, but to take what they say and how they say it into consideration.

Don't be on your phone or constantly rambling about yourself because everyone loves a good listener, especially one they can call a friend. Focus on what your friends are telling you, remember it, and process it. In order to give any worthwhile insight back, you need to be able to really hear what they're saying.

2. Check on your friends.

As a friend, it is your responsibility to make sure your friends are okay and let them know you care. Check on your friends, even when they seem okay because they might not be. If you know your friend is going through a tough time, step up and call them often. Distraction is a great way to help someone stuck in their pain.

Like the tip above says, listen when they tell you what's wrong, and do your best to console them in any way you can. Sometimes, a friend reaching out is all it takes to brighten someone's day. So, text your friends to simply see how they're doing because it will show them that they matter to you.

Even if someone is no longer your friend or one you're not that close with, have the compassion to check on them if you suspect something is wrong.

3. Be positive.

Being negative gets you nowhere in life, and if you're especially negative around your friends, it will most likely cause you to lose them. Be the light in someone's life that you may be lacking in your own. You friends want to be able to come to you to feel better, not to feel worse.

Help your friends see the positives in a situation when they're struggling to see themselves. Also, be positive in the way you treat your friends. Don't put them down or try to make them feel bad about who they are and the things they've done. Instead, lift them up and point out the qualities in them that you admire.

I think some of the best friends are those that encourage you and inspire you. Be a positive friend, and you will attract those types of friends right back.

4. Make yourself available.

We are all obviously busy with our own lives, but that is no excuse to neglect the lives of others. If you really don't have enough time in your day to shoot your friend a text or give them a call, you should rethink the very lifestyle that keeps you so busy.

From personal experience, I can tell you that feeling like your friends aren't willing to make time for you really affect your self-esteem and, at some point, the excuses they provide you with make the situation even worse. So, text your friends often, and move things around to see them because the relationships in your life are far more meaningful and important than any job or class that you have.

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