How Going to University Changed My Expectations About Friends
More Life Advice from a University Student
Friends and relationships, both romantic and platonic are a major part of human interaction and life in general. Making friends and building both forms of relationships are ingrained into our psychology as people, no matter how reclusive, anti-social or even outgoing we are as people. We are drawn to socialising like moths to a bulb, for an infinite number of reasons. Whether that’s differences, similarities, interests or a shared hatred for a common entity. We all have a collective need to connect with one another. But saying that, the types of friendships—I, as an example—have formed as I’ve gradually grown up and certainly when I went to university were drastically different from those I had made in primary and high school.
University in a way is like the wild west, it has its own very specific set of rules that can’t really be applied anywhere else. It’s almost a wasteland of alcohol, drugs and possibility. I suppose that’s why everyone enjoys being here, the sky is literally the limit. But I think because of that, it makes it a lot harder to make more meaningful connections with people. With everyone moving in a million different directions at the speed of fucking light, no one including myself is really prepared to slow down for a minute to talk to each other, to make new connections as older students. If you miss that window during fresher’s week where everyone is green and awkward enough to socialise openly with anyone, it’s difficult to make that ground up later in the year. In retrospect, I should have made more of an effort, but naivety and optimism are seductive influence, especially when you feel isolated and slightly mind blown about how far you are from everyone that cares about you.
The relationships I made at university were wildly different from anything I had made prior to coming here simply because there isn’t that traditional scholastic status quo. The in-group out-group dynamic doesn’t really work when an entire year consists of 4,000 students with vastly different timetables, interests and extracurricular activities. As a result, everyone is essentially their own in-group. But without that status quo and the primitive social hierarchy everyone had at school, forming a group is harder and because of it, I treated my new friends in manner akin to a work colleague. I didn’t talk to them in the same manner I talked to my high school friends, it wasn’t the same form of banter. Nor did I rely upon them in the same way I had relied upon my old friends, I had become self-sufficient. Hence, I wasn’t invested in them enough as people to treat them as friends. In retrospect that was a bad idea.
University has a faster pace than school or even the real world. You can’t slow everything down to understand what’s happening around you, but rather you speed it up. Once you start playing everything fast and loose, things start to make sense in weird and wacky way. Suddenly, those colleagues you made, become friends. You build a different form of banter that makes sense given the context, you rely on each other in different ways and after a couple of excessively drunk nights out they become your mates cast in solid steel. That’s when you can slow down and take it in. I suppose in a blink of an eye, in a way you find your own little university family. A family that holds your hair up when you puke and helps carry you when you can’t walk.
But in all seriousness, friends aren’t something you make at university. You aren’t forced to socialise in the manner you are at school, so you literally don’t make friends. You find them, or they find you. So in a sense, the only thing you need to do find a friend is be at the right place at the right time. I’m pretty sure that’s just fate, and maybe some good time management.
Side Note: At the moment this is shaping up to be a three-part story. If you haven’t read the first piece in this series, please do. It helps the cohesiveness and progression of everything I’m talking about. This is the first half of part two, with it’s the conclusion dealing with romantic relationships and how I’ve put myself out there—or my attempts to do so.