Lunch table pals versus friends

Written by: Emily Hutson, features editor

The friendships you make in the first month at college determine more than just where you sit at lunch. These friends can either make or break your college experience. Pick the right ones and make friends for life. Pick the wrong ones and make your way through problems alone. We want to make “friends for life” but they become the ones who we ask for homework until next semester.

The first two weeks of college are the prime time to try out all the friend groups. This is when everybody hangs out with everybody in hopes a few will stick around. But most of these friend groups start out of convenience and they don’t last. Our friendships should withstand the trials of entering adulthood.

These friendships have no foundation past mutal classes, side by side lunch tables and sports team bonding. They start between people who spend more time with each other than they do anybody else. The priority becomes fitting in instead of making lasting friends.

Megan Clarkson, junior EHS major, experienced this first hand. She came in and started with a huge friend circle. “We were all in the same grade and didn’t know anybody else,” said Clarkson. Her original friend group dwindled after her freshman year when new people came in. The group grew  and it became more important to Clarkson to have good friends. “There was some awkwardness and I stopped hanging out when they would,” said Clarkson. She admits she felt guilty at first for leaving but as she made lasting friendships, the guilt faded. She stayed close with some people but not with others.

“Keep your inner circle small. It’s okay not to have a big group and focus your energy on the best ones,” she said.

The easiest most basic friendships start out of convenience, such as the need for a place to sit at lunch or someone to help with homework. These friendships don’t last much longer than the time it took to create them. They were not made to withstand the stress of life only the stress of having somewhere to sit for lunch.

It’s difficult to make and keep lasting friendships but there are ways to do it. A key to lasting friendships is devoting time to find the right people and devoting intentional time to those people. It is important to have people around you that care about more than parties, relationships or popularity. Friendships throughout school can keep your spirits up and make being away from home easier. The people by your side should be joyful and trustworthy.  

Just like Clarkson, I was drawn to the big group. I made friends out of convenience. I did this because I found comfort in the group; it is the easiest thing to do starting college. The people who live next door, the people on your team and the ones who offer you a seat at their table are the best candidates for quick friends. These don’t always last through the stress of the semester or the distance of summer.

The biggest problem I faced was addressing the enormous gaps in values with my friends. When I learned more about them, the friendship weakened. There became a lack of closeness. We no longer lived next door and new friends had to be made. The feelings of “I don’t belong” creep in and pushes you to find people. The friends I made freshman year are not bad people. They are caring and helpful. But we don’t fit together anymore.

We became too concerned with reputations and starting fresh that we forgot our past shaped us. The things we tried to hide became the things that broke us.

Trying to make new friends makes you question where your other friendships failed. You always wonder where the closeness ended. Did you just fall out because of stress or lack of similar interests? Was the entire friendship based on false intentions from the start?

Coming in this year, I felt the pressure to keep the same friends because starting over would be too hard. But I knew how hard it was for me to make new friends.

The most important part is making friendships deeper than class schedules and lunch times. Find friends that recommend books and allow the freedom to rant without condemnation. These friends give advice with loving tones and caring hugs. These friends grow you. These friends push me to be better and more productive. They broaden my horizons and invoke better of others in my life. These friends are the people I want to have in my life for the rest of my life.

Friendships are not easy. But it’s vital to find good people to surround yourself with for your college years. Your friends help keep you in good spirits and lift you up when you aren’t. At college, it’s easy to fall into routine and stay in your comfort zone. Find friends who will challenge you. Friends who will grow with you.   

Emily Hutson is a sophomore English major at Bryan College and managing editor of the Triangle. She likes writing on her blog and chasing cats around campus in effort to avoid responsibilities. She can be found in her blanket cocoon or stalking people on Twitter.