What Even is Friendship?

Making friends in college is hard and making friends in general is rather tough. In college, you don’t typically see the same people constantly each day. Sure, you may have classes with someone, but not enough opportunity for real conversation unless you are paired together in class. The task is even more difficult when you’re awkward and shy… like me. I am getting ready to graduate and I have had a rather rough time making friends. I started my college journey with one person I knew from high school, and we were inseparable for a time. My friend groups have grown and shrank over the years we spent here; currently my friend group consists of only two people and I rarely see them. They have their own lives which is understandable but, this begs the question: what even is friendship?

I imagine that everyone classifies the concept differently. I, for one define it as having common interests, doing activities often together and having a similar state of mind. A friend will help you through the bad times and celebrate with you during the good. Of course that idea goes both ways. Maybe someone classifies friendship as just hanging out together, or having a person around to not be bored or relatively lonely. Another person may describe it as just having a support system. A friend can be defined in several ways which makes the concept broad and leads to the realization that a friend is what you make of it.

But what happens when you actually land a friend? How do you maintain that relationship so it doesn’t crumble right before your eyes? Again, these questions seem so simple to answer. You just hang out with these new people and try not to be boring or let your weird side out, right? In my experience, every friendship is different and requires different efforts. While one friend may be very easy going and relatively “low-maintenance,” requiring only small levels of contact, some friends may want to hang out all the time. People are unique and when different personalities combine, diverse relationships form.

Though I had my own challenges with friendships in the past, I am going to offer a few tips I learned throughout my time in college.

Put Yourself Out There

This first thing I learned is so obvious it should be a crime that I am pointing it out. Of course, the fact that I am listing it shows that I couldn’t even follow it. It is so important to make an effort to make yourself available to new friends that may come along. You may just end up making friends with someone you see in class every week. Don’t be afraid to approach people. If you think the idea they said in class is smart, tell them. If you like something they’re wearing, compliment them. If you like the same show as them, engage. You may just cook up a cool and compelling conversation.

I have learned that you cannot be shy; you need to be confident in your approach if you want to meet new people. It is very awkward seeing someone who has had several classes with you and not talking to them after so long. It makes the entire experience weird because you both silently acknowledge you have seen one another around but haven’t made an attempt to spark a conversation. I’ve been there and it is nothing short of an uncomfortable situation.

People Change and Leave and That’s Okay

Something else that I have learned is that people leave. College is a place of growth, and while it is true we change throughout our entire lives, we tend to change more during this stage. With this in mind, it is safe to say that people drift away as they mature and it may hurt to discover that someone you were close with has drifted away, but you’ve probably drifted away from people too, unintentionally or not. It is something that happens, it’s depressing, but it is normal.

Even if a person leaves, maybe you will rekindle the friendship in the future. Relationships are weird like that sometimes. It is a possibility that you will have more in common when you’re older than you did when you were younger. No matter the reason, people change, shift and grow, and it is not because you did something to push them away… rather, it was because they are also undergoing personal development.

Friends Don’t Have to Hang Out All the Time

This fact shocked me initially. I still talk to my friends from high school even though we seldom see one another since we live in different states. We don’t talk everyday but when we do, it feels like old times. Sometimes we have intense and insightful conversations; other times, we just send one another memes. No matter what brings us to a conversation, we still have a bond that was forged years ago. It took me a while to realize this fact. I put too much emphasis on face-to-face interactions and didn’t really pay attention to other options. Friendship comes in many forms, and none of them should be ignored because they don’t match our preconceived notions.

People you met recently may not have time to hang out because they are busy – it’s college, who isn’t? It may seem like they don’t want to be friends, but they still care for you and vise versa. If you still send them random messages of inside jokes, and they respond back just as weirdly, you are still friends. If you both send one another messages when you’re randomly upset and need support and you respond in a kind manner, then that is friendship at its core.If you struggle to make friends like I do, then hopefully these tips help to ease your mind.

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