Just a twenty-something living the dream, trying to check off the bucket list, one entry at a time
Anybody who tells you college friends are the same as high school friends is straight up lying. Let’s just get that straight. Oh, I don’t mean that one group is better or worse than another, but they’re just different. Different is good, so don’t panic.
I once had a teacher tell me that more people go to their high school reunions, but more people stay closer with their college friends. While I’ve been blessed with some pretty awesome, life-long “high-school friends,” I can see the validity of this.
See, for many of us, college is the first time many of us have had to make friends in like eight years. In high school and middle school, you make friends early, and barring tragedy/drama/fights, you’ll probably keep those same friends until the day you put on that cap and gown (or if you’re lucky like me, you stay friends even after graduation). In high school, you make friends through classes and after school activities. When you sit next to the same people every day at lunch and work with them every day in the same English class, it’s relatively easy to make friends. When you’re in the same building 6 hours a day with the same people, it’s almost like having built-in friends with very little effort required on your part.
Well, college is a whole different ballgame. Because everyone makes their own schedule and each class (especially gen ads) has such a variety of people, making lasting friends in a 300-person lecture doesn’t really happen much. Oh, you’ll make friends in large lectures. You make friends with that one nuclear engineering major in your theatre class that you sit with every day and make jokes with. You’ll make friends with the only other non-freshman in your Econ class while you quietly snicker at the freshmen around you (read: me last semester). But typically these friendships don’t last beyond the class. Smaller classes are different, but class isn’t the first place you’ll find friends.
Some people room with their friends. Other people (like me) go completely random with rooming assignments. Some people (unfortunately) hate their roommate or are much too different to be friends. Some people tolerate their roommates. But some people are the lucky ones. People like me happen to get randomly paired with someone totally awesome and end up being best friends with their roommate.
But the thing about college friends is that you get very close, very quickly. Think about it. You’re living with the same people day in and day out and the walls in dorms tend to be very thin. You know those stories and secrets it took years for you to confide in your high school friends? Yeah, your college friends will know them in a matter of weeks or months (sooner if you’re the emotional type when drunk).
Our high school friends see us as we’re growing up. But our college friends are there for us during our first years as an adult, our first years living on our own. They’re there with ice cream and movies when our heart gets broken by our first college boyfriend. They’re there when we accidentally puke in a bush after a frat party gone wrong. They’re there with encouragement when you actually get a 30% on that organic chemistry exam. They deal with all your emotions and your bullshit and your general crankiness and angst. They celebrate when you finally aced that impossible test.
And it’s ok. Because you’re there when the same things happen to them. You take turns bringing the ice cream and chick flicks. You share bonds of friendship forged in drunken crazy nights, deep late-night philosophy debates, too much junk food at movie night and stress from difficult classes. You share something much different than what you feel with high school friends.
You’re all in this together. Each and every one of you is struggling to get along, all gripped by that wonderfully terrifying, dizzying feeling of not having a clue about the future or knowing what the hell you’re going to be when you grow up, but not caring either way. You’re all poor and dysfunctional and crazy and ridiculous and sad and happy together.
You talk about the days in the future when you’ll all return to campus for homecoming, no matter where life takes you. You make plans for 10, 15 years down the road when you’ll actually have enough money to justify buying round after round in your favorite college bar. You’ll joke about marrying a fellow alumnus and buying each other’s children onsies with your college name plastered across the front.
Together, you’ll manage to make it through some of the most stressful and exciting and difficult and happy times of your life. College friends (if done correctly) become the people that act as bridesmaids and groomsmen and godparents. College friends accept us for who we are because they’ve never known anything different. So yes, the concept of having to make a whole new set of friends in college can be daunting. But it can also be one of the best things to ever happen to you.