5 Lessons I've Learned On The Meaning Of True Friendship
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Politics and Activism

5 Lessons I've Learned On The Meaning Of True Friendship

What I have learned about friendship during my first year of college.

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5 Lessons I've Learned On The Meaning Of True Friendship
Halley Geringer

Before college, I would not have considered myself a particularly social individual. Although in high school I had a few best friends, I was never one to have a huge group of friends. I was more of a social drifter--I had friends in different social groups, not all of my friends knew each other and I rarely hung out with all of my friends at the same time. I feel blessed to have left high school with a few best friends, who I am happy to say I am even closer with now after a year of college.

Last summer, as I spent my days hanging out with friends until the wee hours of the morning, cherishing what I worried would be the last moments with those people, I will admit that I was terrified about going to college. I was afraid that I would have a hard time finding friends, especially since I was shy and introverted. I was worried that I would never be able to have the same friendships as I did at home. I was worried that I would continue being a "drifter" and would have scattered friends but not a solid group.

I met so many people during my freshman year. In retrospect, it is crazy to think that everything that happened to me socially all happened in one year. When I think back to the person I was when I entered college last August, I cannot believe how much I have evolved. Now, don't get me wrong- — I am still me. I am not a completely different person, I have just ... evolved. Me 2.0 if you will.

When I think back to the entirety of my freshman year, I can honestly say that the formative experiences that are most prominent in my mind are my social experiences. I don't first think of the first B I ever got. I don't first think of the time that I acted like a complete idiot and totally blew an audition. I don't even think of the times my professors went out of their way to congratulate me on doing good work. The first things I think of are my social experiences — the social journey I took throughout the year to eventually find my true friends and, in so doing, learn the meaning of true friendship. To sum up everything I have learned over the past year, I have compiled the following five tenets of true friendship.

1. It is okay to have different kinds of friends.

Something I have realized is that it is okay to have different types of relationships with different people. You can have some people who are your best friends, with whom you are fiercely close; you tell them everything; they're the first people with whom you want to share good or bad news; you've been through everything together and you're basically partners in crime. But you can also have friends with whom you always joke about dank memes. You can have friends with whom you always chat about political or social issues, because you see eye-to-eye or because they always provide an interesting viewpoint. You can have friends whose friendship you really cherish, and even though you might not be the closest in the world, you always make sure to catch up and grab a meal together every once in a while. The beauty of the human experience is that we are all dynamic individuals; our friendships with one another should be as such!

2. It is okay to have many friends in different social circles.

I have best friends who I met early in the year in my a cappella group. I have best friends in my "group" — aka, the core group chat. I have best friends who I met in classes. I have best friends who I met during sorority rush. Furthermore, all of my friends intersect among these groups! You never know how a friendship will grow — -you may meet someone in a class and then join the same sorority and become best friends. That first friend you met in one of your other classes may introduce you to other people who eventually became your "group." Your friend from a club or extracurricular activity may become a part of your core group, and then you may end up rooming together the following year with other people from your group. I know that this is possible because all of these describe the ways in which my most cherished friendships grew throughout the year! Remember that friendship takes time — it might not happen in the first few months of school, but if you keep an open mind and an open heart, those first interactions will eventually grow into beautiful friendships.

3. Not all of your friends have to be your best friends in order for your relationship to be special.

This is something I wish I had known in high school. Just because someone isn't your best friend does not mean that they do not love you. Furthermore, just because someone isn't your best friend does not mean that you can't turn to them for support! Taking that leap of faith and confiding in someone even if you two aren't the closest can be a great way to get closer and strengthen your relationship, and I know from experience that they will be truly touched to know that you trust them.

4. The mark of a true friend is someone who manages to tell you what you didn't know you needed to hear.

Recently, I had to make a tough decision to get myself out of a really awful situation. Ultimately, making that decision was hugely beneficial, but it was still hard to deal with. I told my friends, and I was truly humbled and touched by the love and support they showed me. They told me that they were so proud of me for getting out of the situation, how that takes a ton of self-love, and that they were there for me every step of the way. When I was feeling shitty about the whole thing, my friends were the ones who told me that the actions I had taken took major self-respect, something that not everyone has, and that that was seriously admirable. I didn't know I needed to hear that from them, but hearing it has allowed me to reflect on just how awesome I am, and how amazing my friends are! They went above and beyond what I expected, providing not only sympathy, but the love and support that I needed in order to appreciate myself in a time when I was feeling down on myself. They have taught me that true friends aren't only there to sympathize with you when times are tough; true friends are the ones who are going to help you dust yourself off and pick yourself up again when you can't see how wonderful you are.

5. Above all, a true friend is not just someone who you connect with. A true friend is someone who loves and supports you through the good and the bad.

I have true friends who I swear are my separated-at-birth twins. I have other true friends who are quite different from me in terms of viewpoints and personal opinions. It is not mere common interests that bind two people; true bonding is the result of who the other person is intrinsically, something which cannot be reduced to mere likes and dislikes. True friendship is about a kinship of personality that allows you to relate to one another on an interpersonal level, and thus allows you to care deeply for one another. I have learned over the course of this year that true friends are the ones who are there to love and support you through thick and thin. Even through all the crap that we will all inevitably go through in our lives, your true friends are there for you even if you are hundreds of miles apart or if you have radically different tastes in music. In giving your friends the same love and support that they have given you, you will be on your way to lifelong friendships — and that is truly special.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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