When I went off to college I was devastated. I had built a life in my hometown where I knew everyone, and everyone knew me. I was safe in my routine. The world told me how great college would be and for the first few weeks I didn’t believe it. Now that I have settled in, I realize why people look back on their own experiences so fondly. They say you meet your best friends here, and I couldn’t agree more.
I got lucky, I found mine early, and this week I had to leave them. Leaving for the summer is so bittersweet. On one hand, I am happy I get to go home and see my family, start working again, and have my dog around all the time. On the other hand, I know I am going to desperately miss the people who have taken up most of the space in my life for the last nine months.
What makes college friendships so wonderful is that you spend your time with people for no other reason than your connection. The friends you make here you make because you have something in common and you completely enjoy their presence. You don’t have to keep up appearances like you did in high school, out of the fear that your parents will invite your friends’ parents to the back yard cook out. You don’t have to play nice with everyone just because you live next door to their grandma.
My home circle is tight, and I adore the kids I spent most of my life with, but there is a certain experience you get when you go away to college alone. The friends I made here were handpicked, by me, and I like to think I did fantastic job. It’s a refreshing change to have friends that I didn’t grow up with. Friends that don’t live next door to my grandma.
The people you meet in college change your perspective on life. My friends here are different from me in many ways. They have different stories. They grew up in different places. They love different music. They do different things. Thanks to all the ways they are different from me, I am able to grow in ways I couldn’t have at home.
I came into college nervous that nobody would ever be able to hold a candle to my childhood friendships. Boy was I wrong. My friends here have warm hearts and kind souls, they have made me a nicer person. They filed down my rigid edges and made me see the world in a brighter light. They love me purely, for who I am, and nothing else. They chose me like I chose them, because they saw something in me they liked.
In a school of fifteen thousand kids it’s easy to decide who is and who isn’t on your level. You can pick out people you connect with pretty easily and distance yourselves from those you don’t. We may all be together on the same campus for a few years, but college gives a lot more room for personal space than high school. We make time for each other here. Here you have to make the effort, you have to call people and tell them you want to see them. You don’t have the option of seeing them in homeroom, you can’t put off plans till eighth period. Everyone here is busy beginning their lives, you’ll know for sure who wants you in theirs.
So, if I have anything important to say it’s this, when you get a chance to run take it. Don’t tie yourself down to old routines and easy friendships. Put yourself out there and be a little uncomfortable for a while. The change you will see in yourself you will pay forward to the world. I hope you find people willing to love you for exactly who you are. I hope you find people you have on spot connections with. I hope you find people that teach you and help you grow. I hope you find people like mine. It may not have been the easiest road to take, but it’s the road I’m most grateful for traveling. I never expected to have friendships that were so pure and so real. I never expected to find my people, but here I am, full of love for my friends and the place that brought us together.
You’ll know when you find your people, because sometimes new acquaintances feel like old friends, hold onto them.