Young adults look back on their college years with mixed feelings. Some regret the amount of time they spent partying and procrastinating. Others wish there had been a way to reduce their student loans.
For me, it was different. I had an excellent scholarship, and I was in a major that promised a reliable job upon my graduation. I was so focused on school that I didn't take the time to make many friends. What can I say? The nursing program was extremely demanding. But if I could talk to my first-year of college self, I would say, "Make more friends and make time for the ones you have."
The beginning of my senior year
After the two years of almost pure isolation to get my associate's degree, my final year to get my bachelor's degree had a more open schedule. More opportunities to socialize. I was far from a partier, but I still wanted to make new friends.
Some would have accused me of being lazy because I could have been actively working as a nurse by my senior year, since I had the NCLEX successfully under my belt. I regret nothing. I had a full scholarship. Why not enjoy the college ride for one more year?
The beginning of the fall semester is prime time. A whole batch of new students floods the campus. People who are away from home and often just beginning adult life. These people are looking to make new friends.
The first week of classes is a great time to go up to someone and introduce yourself. It's more natural than at the other times of the year. More normal. Not that I've attempted to be normal very often.
But in a moment of spontaneity and boldness, we met. And I'm so glad we did.
Breakfast on a Monday morning
I was a breakfast at the dining hall sort of student. I like food, and I still stand by the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I saw a girl that seemed approachable. This was over three years ago now, so I don't remember why I felt like that. I know that she's a fun person now, but I knew nothing at that point.
Maybe I saw a bit of my early college self in her. I thought about the meals I had spent alone, and how I would scroll through my "security blanket" to avoid looking out of place or lonely. Looking back, I wonder why I did that. I didn't want to look weird, I guess.
But I saw her eating breakfast, and I sat down and said "hi." I introduced myself and asked her who she was. We didn't talk for long. I suppose we had that whole "school thing" to get to.
There was no exchange of social media accounts or numbers. And all I had was her first name: Calla. I didn't see her again for about a week. I thought at the time that our meeting was a one-off. A moment of "Yay, me. I got out there and socialized with other people. Good job." But then we ran into each other again at breakfast.
And it was the start of a beautiful friendship. I took Calla under my wing and adopted her. A senior in college helping a first-year. Need someone to rant to about your roommate? I'm here. A breakfast buddy? Totally there. Maybe I could help her with her social life a bit too. But I didn't have your typical party in mind.
You need to get out of your dorm room.
I saw my first-year self in Calla. Studious and focused on the goal of graduation. But forgetting that it's essential to make friends and socialize a little. Calla, you need to get out of your dorm room every once in a while.
If I'd been the sorority type, I probably would have been trying to get her to pledge. If I were the type who partied on weekends, maybe I would have encouraged underage drinking. But no.
My idea of a good time was something more out there. "Hey, Calla, do you want to come international folk dancing with me?"
Oddly enough, she said yes. And together, with the friends that we brought, we revived the folk dancing club. The group met every Tuesday night. It was both community members and students. For Calla and me, it was a safe and accepting group. A group that welcomed anyone and everyone.
Then there was the rafting trip. The movie nights. The Easter egg hunt with my family. I had someone tell me that we look like sisters. We do certainly look similar. And somehow, our friendship has become one where we can pick up right where we left off.
As the years go by
When I graduated, I felt like I left her in a good place. She was making new friends and doing well in school. And she had reminded me that I can be a fun person that people want to be friends with.
We've stayed in touch. I remember visiting her in January of 2020, back when I was still on night shift. We went and read children's books in the library together. And she presented me with an amazing Christmas gift: a crocheted blanket made of black, grey, and red yarn. I have it on my bed right now.
We've had numerous adventures, but my personal favorite was right after I got back on a day shift. We went to Barnes and Noble, and we had to run through the rain to get back to her car. We laughed in the way that you do when you're with friends.
We went apple picking together this fall, and my family said again that she just fits right in. When she's around, you don't have to worry about constantly filling the space with conversation. She's okay to just be with you.
Thankful for this gem
There's an old fable of a young man who was traveling along a road. An old man approached him and told the young man to pick up some stones on the road when it got dark. "In the morning, you will be both glad and sad," the old man said.
The young man thought this advice odd, but he did as the old man had said. In the darkness, he picked up some stones and put them in his pocket. In the morning, he discovered the ordinary stones had become precious gems of immense worth. And he was both glad and sad. He was pleased with the jewels he had but sad that he had not picked up more.
I look back on my college years with a twinge of regret. That I hadn't reached out to more people. But I realize that you shouldn't wallow there. You have to be thankful for the gems that you manage to find along the way.
And I am thankful. I'm grateful for the friends I've made and that Calla is one of them. I'm thankful that she's been there for me and for our friendship. She's graduating this year; I'm proud of her. My little first-year grew up, and she did just fine. And the gem of our friendship is one that I cherish.
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About the Creator
Passionate writer that is enthusiastic about writing engaging, compelling content. Excels in breaking down complex concepts into simple terms and connecting with readers through sharing stories and personal experience.