Friends: the fun companions you have in your life who know how random and weird you can be, and still like you. Friends are the essence of our young lives, sometimes other versions of ourselves, and the bulk of our memories.In our first years in school, we instantly became friends with anyone the same age solely because they were the same small height as us, and somehow were thus a compatible friend. In middle school, our standards of who we wanted to talk to slightly changed from anyone who also liked crayons to people within our classes or neighborhoods that shared similar interests with us. In high school, our standards -- with the addition of crazy hormones and wanting to "fit in," -- went so far to the opposite side of the spectrum, it broke the entire people-acceptance scale.
In these later years of school, we hung out with people mostly due to the fact that they were in a bunch of our classes, or that they were mutual friends with our close friends. I recall my friends saying they were "lucky" to be able to hang out with their close friends, from having a certain schedule, unlike others who got a class schedule opposite from their friends. If you were one of the unlucky ones whose class schedule made it seem as if the principal was Sauron, watching over you in Mordor while your friend was all the way in the Shire, then you sometimes had no other choice but to hang out with orcs and goblins. Likewise, you might have felt as if you had to hang out with the elves simply because of their power and status, even if you didn't entirely like them. Or maybe you had to hang out with a bunch of hobbits, always eating your food, because they were always around. In other words: we often felt the need to talk with people.
Unfortunately, a lot of teens feel the need to conform in school only to realize they can't be who they are or don't feel like they're themselves in a group of friends. I was one of these people. At that time, I could have been surrounded by friends and still felt alone. Turns out I was often hanging out with the wrong crowd; but thankfully, that all changed when I got to college.
College is not only the place where our true selves and intellectual identities come out -- it is the world of opportunities. Friendships in college aren't just different because there are thousands more people; people are there to learn and be themselves rather than "fit in." College students are usually past the high school phase when people labelled the ‘jock," "nerd," "wannabe" and "cool kid" tables, and girls made a "burn book" for no beneficial reason. Okay, well maybe that’s not every high school, but people can be pretty crazy in those days.
I have never felt so free as when I had the opportunity to be in whichever group of friends I wanted, and without anyone caring. The important thing to note about college is that we are closer to who we truly are, as is everyone else. The key is to expand your social circle, and if you are even a tad bit judgmental, you should stop right now. You might find that people in Greek life are not actually the stereotypical people most judge them to be, and that they are really neat people.
College is the time to talk to a bigger variety of people. The more kinds of people you talk to, the more you'll learn about yourself as a person. Everyone should take advantage of the fact that in college, you have as many opportunities friendship-wise, as you do with school-related activities. Classes will make you more knowledgeable about the world, but ultimately friends will shape you as a person.
After all, college students are all going through the same thing; they're doing similar daily activities, trying to graduate and probably feeling a little homesick. I almost feel like college is one big family living together throughout a town. Now is the time to talk to people who you would never think you’d be compatible with. Some of the people I am closest with now are almost the opposite of me, but I am so glad I met them and still talk with them years later.
Making great friends in college can benefit most people for many different reasons. After college years and as we get older, the opportunity to make and be with friends lessens. Having a lot of friends isn't for everyone, but it certainly can change one's life being just that much more outgoing and friendly. Focus on friendships as much as school though, and you can make the most out of your college years.
This article is dedicated to my brother, who has an amazing four years of college to look forward to, and whom I hope takes the advice in this article so his life may have even more opportunities.