Making New Friends And Keeping The Old Ones

Making New Friends And Keeping The Old Ones

I can clearly remember the 12-hour car ride heading up to Wake Forest. Mostly consisting of my dad blasting the Grateful Dead and Ozzy Osbourne in our minivan — which was chock full of clothes, toiletries and probably too many tchotchkes — it was also the moment that I realized I was leaving home for the next four years.

With that reality finally sinking in and a good chunk of time to kill, I spent much of the drive thinking about what my roommate, hallmates and classmates would be like. I was sad to be leaving home and all of my friends behind, but simultaneously excited for and dreading the fact that I would have to make friends all over again.

As I enter my third year at Wake Forest, I can say with confidence that my level of dread was a little dramatic.

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Despite balancing the unfamiliar environment, classes and people, I made lifelong friends freshman year, and with much more ease than I imagined. Although there is no universal freshman-friend-making-experience, there are a few pieces of wisdom I can share.

First, embrace the natural process. I know — you are shocked and dumbfounded by this original piece of advice … Who could have thought of this? In all seriousness, though, don’t fret over those who aren›t reciprocating your energy.

You will meet a ton of people your first few weeks of college, and most of them won’t end up being in your core group of friends. That’s okay. Even though it’s been a few years since you’ve started relationships from complete scratch, you will find that you will click with certain people, and it all kind of just flows from there.

However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put in any effort to cement and maintain college friendships. Between having schedules that vary wildly, different extracurricular interests and possibly living in different dorms, it’s exceptionally easy to stop hanging out with someone if you don’t allot time to hang out.

Whether that manifests in a weekly meal together, dates to the gym or going out, it is necessary to both reach out to and be receptive to new friends. 

Similarly, it’s easy to stick with the friends you have made in your hall or dorm building. Only a floor below or a few doors down, you will have much easier access to these people. That being said, I implore you to branch out and meet people in your classes and extracurriculars.

If you like someone’s outfit, the comment they made in class or even the stickers on their computer, ask them to grab a coffee or a meal after class one day. I’ve made some great friends this way, and it also allows you to branch out of your specific dorm bubble.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the first month of college is a whirlwind of “new” — new experiences, new challenges, new friends, new passions. No one expects you to be as connected with your high school friends as you were at home, but that doesn’t mean that your relationships are of any less value. My hometown friendships have evolved greatly from when I was still in high school.

Although I don’t talk to them as often as I did when I saw them for eight hours a day, I feel as close to them as ever. There is value in a weekly or monthly FaceTime call, as well as the weeks that you all get to spend together during breaks. Continue to appreciate their presence in your life, respect their personal growth and remind them that you are there for them in times of hardship.

There are a lot of reasons to be stressed out during college, but finding friends shouldn’t be one of them. With some effort and confidence, you’ll find your people in no time.

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