Squeezing four years of friendship into four weeks

It’s never too late to make new friends, but realistic expectations are vital

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Don’t look now, but it is officially less than a month until graduation. Yikes. It seems like just yesterday that I was at summer orientation wondering what the Downtown Mall was and why so many kids were from “NOVA,” which I assumed was slang for transferring from Villanova. I had no clue what I was getting myself into.

The end of college evokes a number of emotions. Excitement. Anxiety. Fear. Happiness. Saudade. But perhaps the most prominent feeling is sorrow. There is a deep sadness in the idea that one’s current relationships are about to change irrevocably, especially when it is out of our control. Graduation symbolizes a seismic shift in many people’s lives, and it’s natural to worry about where everything — and everyone — will stand after the dust settles.

Personally, however, I have been surprised to find that the past few weeks have seen my thoughts consumed not by the potential of losing the relationships I already have, but rather by mourning the lack of potential in relationships that I am just now beginning to form. Perhaps the reason is a difference in hope. After all, you have already laid the foundations for existing friendships, so there is a chance that they may stand the test of time once you are no longer in the same place. New connections, however, are likely as structurally sound as the first pig’s straw home in “The Three Little Pigs.”

In some sense, building new friendships at this stage of college is akin to knowingly jumping into a speeding car right as it is about to smash into a brick wall. There are no secrets involved. We all know how the story ends. But still, despite that, we buckle up anyway. And while that might be begging for a painful parting, I think it’s worth it every time.

A little over a week ago, I desperately posted in a large Facebook group searching for a roommate in Chicago next year (if you know anyone moving there, let me know). Soon, I received a new friend request. Excited at having potentially found a new roommate, I sent her a message and anxiously awaited a response. To my great disappointment, she was not moving to America’s Second City. However, it was not all for naught! We ended up meeting up on the Lawn later during the week and became friends.

Of course, it’s natural to wonder what the point is. Even an optimist would say that we will see each other only two or maybe three times before the end of the semester at best. And when studies show that it takes around 200 hours of time together to become good friends, our venture seems doomed from the start. But, the concept that after graduation there is nothing but an ominous great beyond is a dangerous misnomer. As hard as it may be to believe, life will survive the end of college just as the world survived 2012.

Now, I understand that my philosophy may be unique. I am addicted to getting to know people, and I believe that the process is extremely enjoyable. You may be different. Perhaps you find meeting new friends emotionally exhausting, or you are concerned that your older relationships aren’t where you want them to be before graduation. If that’s the case, use your time however you believe is best. But regardless of your specific situation, it is vital to realize that the end of college is not the end of days. As fellow columnist John Patterson talked about in one of his previous columns, don’t view this looming date as the end of the best four years of your life. Instead, consider tomorrow the beginning of the best four years of your life and then repeat that process every day.

When I recently sat down with my friend Galen, she told me that we were about to squeeze four years of friendship into four weeks before I graduated. I certainly plan on treasuring the time we have left physically together, but I also would challenge the notion that we face any sort of time constraint — I’m excited to stretch four years of friendship across the next four years, and then perhaps four more years after that.

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