College: The Issue of Growing Up And Apart From High School Friends

People often say that college is the best time in your life.  And it’s understandable why they think that. It’s the one time in your life where you get to go off on your own, usually on your parent’s dime, and find out who you are and what it is you want out of life. It’s the time where you get to cultivate your interests, make lifelong friends, pursue new activities and drink a lot of alcohol indiscriminately.

When I was a freshman in college I couldn’t help but feel the complete opposite way about college- in fact, it was pretty much the worst. I cried practically every day and felt entirely abandoned by both my friends and family. The main issue was that while I was a freshman most of my friends were seniors in high school. So while I was dealing with a sleep apnea ridden masturbator/roommate my friends were on a completely different page.  I thought it was an unfair. I didn’t feel more mature or different than my friends- so why was it that I was the only one who had to be in college? So I responded in the worst way possible. I went home every other weekend and closed myself off from making any real friends because I didn’t want to replace the ones back home. I thought, “I already have the best friends in the world, why would I replace them?” I sacrificed my own self growth so that I could slow down time and remain fully involved in the lives of my friends who were home. It wasn’t until much later though that I realized how completely lame this entire situation turned out to be.

Once my friends entered college, I thought things would be better. We were all finally on the same page. I could be there for them as they struggled with homesickness and visit them at their school and keep our friendships alive. But after a while, reality set in- my friends started making friends at their own schools. They started relying on me less and became more involved in their own community. I saw their Facebook walls and Twitter accounts flooded with comments and pictures of people I knew nothing about. And it made me feel like I no longer knew my friends. It felt like they weren’t growing with me but rather away from me. And to an extent- I was right. I’ve drifted away from many of my old friends. I know very little about what they do at school and they’re more focused on branching off and making new friendships then they are about cultivating old ones. But it is understandable- they are a world away from me. They have to focus on the here and now and I’m not a part of that anymore.

I am fortunate that most of my friends go to college in Boston and the surrounding areas. It’s relatively easy to make plans with them and although I may not see them often it’s comforting to know I could see them if I wanted to.  And for the most part- I still feel fairly involved in their lives either because I talk to them regularly or have some idea as to what their up to.

But if there’s anything I’ve realized in college, it’s that friendships do come to an end. Sometimes friendships die-without a fight. Sometimes they die because the two people no longer have anything in common. And maybe perhaps “die” is too harsh of a word- maybe “transition” is better. Sometimes friendships stop growing and just become a form of nostalgia. Conversations with friends turn into simply reminiscing about old times- almost as if your friendship only exists to talk about how great your friendship used to be.

It can be hard to accept this reality especially if you’ve spent years cultivating a friendship. But at some point you have to realize that maybe your friendships were just a “time and place” type of situation. It doesn’t make the friendship any less real- it just might mean that your friendship only had so long of a shelf life. People grow up, they change their interests, they grow into their personalities and selves and that’s not a sin. It’s hard to accept that the friend you once had no longer exists- but instead of being mad, be happy that they are further along on the road to self-discovery.

I don’t know if other people feel this way.  All I know is that I’m tired of being angry or sad about times changing and friendships evolving. I need to focus on my own here and now. I need to figure out what makes me happy. And maybe the reason I was so upset about these friendships ending is because it forced me to reflect inwardly and ask myself who am I and have I changed. When one chapter of your life ends, you have to ask yourself, “Who am I now? What does this mean for me?” I’m finally ready to ask myself these questions and while I’m glad to have old faces in my life- I don’t need my past to ready myself for the future.

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