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What if college is the first time you made real, true friendships? What if you spent a year, or four years developing the strongest sense of kinship you’ve ever known with another individual? What happens when you graduate? What happens when you leave the space of a university?
Graduating is daunting in itself, but add to that the fact that many of us will never be lucky enough to live with our college best friends again, and the prospect becomes even more daunting. For me, while I have some very good friends from high school, I learned about truly opening up and letting more people truly know me, in college.
Graduating is like this. You have to say goodbye to those who saw your best and worst self, and who loved you regardless. It is important to recognize the sacredness of your friendships. See, while I do believe that these friendships can be sustained, the experience will be different. Never again will you live together or live close to each other. You won’t have classes together or go to each other’s formals. The condition of the experience within which your friendship was formed is significantly altered.
Like I said, though, I do think that these friendships can be strengthened and further, that it is important to keep these friendships. Through much reflection and experimentation, I honestly want to tell you that although it is challenging, it is also very rewarding.
I have fought my battles, as I call them. It is still very difficult to contact some of my friends whom I genuinely love. So here’s my first piece of advice for you: sustaining a friendship is a two-way street. Don’t beat yourself up if after trying as much as you could, your friend remains distant and does not stay in touch. We all know those people who don’t pick up their phones, forget to text back, or can never meet up for lunch or a quick cup of coffee even when they live close to you. We love them and part of that is loving their free spirit and wandering selves. However, you have every right to feel hurt about it and in addition, it is not your fault if a person does not make the time for you. Remember that, and remember also, that it is very likely that whatever is going on with your friend, does not have to do with you. It is quite possible that they are going through a difficult transition time themselves and for a number of reasons, do not want to share that or cannot pull themselves out of their anxieties. One day, hopefully, they’ll be ready to talk and if they don’t, then at least know that you tried to keep your friend.
My second piece of advice is important with any relationship, regardless of whether you are parting from your friends or not. It all comes down to different forms of communication. Be creative. Some people send really short, quick texts. It’s hard to keep a conversation flowing on the opposite end, if you’re like me and write paragraphs whenever you text. But maybe those friends are good at phone calls. Or maybe you pick up a pen and become pen pals. If you don’t like writing, maybe Skyping or FaceTiming often can be your way of communicating. I know that now that I’ve graduated, for my college best friends, communication has manifested into a variety of different forms all aimed at keeping us in touch with each other. It’s about exploring and being creative.
This leads me to my third and final piece of advice, be patient. Be patient with yourself and be patient with each other. Not all methods have worked, not all friends have stayed in my life. Some have fallen out of touch, some I send Whatsapp messages to almost daily, some I speak to once a month, and many, I have been fortunate to be able to visit. Regardless of our communication and whether or not we were able to sustain those friendships, the moments we shared were exceptional and I know to my core that those friendships were special.
Look, there is no reason you can’t sustain your friendships. You have to recognize that your relationships will evolve as you and your friends both grow, pursue different things, live in different places, and develop new relationships, even make new friends. But the way you keep in touch with each other can make difficult times better and your friendship more beautiful. At the end of the day, we all need each other and we couldn’t have done it alone. Those friendships are worth taking care of.
How do you stay in touch with distant friends?
MariaCarolina Gomez is a Mexican graduate who grew up in Utah and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her undergraduate degree. She is currently welcoming the challenges and beauties of graduating with a double major in English and Philosophy. She is grateful for all the opportunities and relationships that have shaped her experience and continue to color her life. MariaCarolina is in constant pursuit of knowing herself and aims to seek ways of being a better person.
I run a Foundation in India providing education and other services to kids with disabilities from birth to 21. Every time we talk about mainstreaming our kids, we finally end up at this big stumbling block: what about friends? Because the one thing our kids definitely have in our current set-up is friends. Real friends. Friends they fight with, laugh with, cry about and dream of. They have crushes on each other and secret affairs. They tease each other, write each other notes and gossip in corners. This totally normal stuff is the reason I continue to have doubts about inclusive education. You can”t force friendship. It emerges like magic from shared affinities and affection. You can”t prescribe it or write it as a goal in an IEP. And if I had to choose between inclusion and friendship (and it looks like we do), I”d choose friendship every time.
So proud of my beautiful daughter MariaCarolina, her profesor discribe her as “a beautiful human being” .
I agree, she has been a great supporter and confident of her three siblings, who always looked up to her advice and most of all her patience!