Any college freshman who denies feeling anxious about moving away from home is a big fat liar. I knew all of my incoming classmates would be new too. But I still feared none of these new faces would end up like my friends from home.
Before starting freshman year, I felt confident that I’d meet new people, but also nervous I wouldn’t feel a connection with them like I did with my high school friends. I didn’t know if they would have the same love for Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids or share my quirky sense of humor. At the time, four of my best friends had paired off and headed to the same universities. That left me as the outcast. I headed to college solo. And this was just the beginning of my exclusion.
School didn’t go too smoothly at first. People at American University didn’t understand me initially. I always felt in my early days at college that people doubted me. I didn’t come from an affluent area with an amazing private school and I was simply not as cultured as others. People knew me as the girl that was “so Jersey.” Many poked fun at my love for crop tops, hoop earrings and bedazzled jeans. I quickly started to miss my Jersey social community.
But as the semester flew by, I definitely felt happier by the end. I made some great friends who accepted me for my crazy Jersey girl self and enjoyed my presence. I’d immersed myself at AU, joining the college dance team that required me to stay certain breaks and practice on the weekends. As a result, I didn’t get to visit my friends even though I’d promised to do so.
When I finally did go home, my friends acted different towards me. Whenever I hung out with them they seemed to ignore me. They laughed at all of these new inside jokes I didn’t understand. It felt awkward. I just didn’t know how to fit my old friends into my new schedule at school. We all had busy schedules, but they visited home more often and hang out with each other. It seemed that they’d taken my busy college lifestyle as a personal attack on our friendship.
As my years in college progressed, ties to any of my friends at home kept weakening. I joined a sorority my freshman year, which captivated me from the start. And I loved finding myself surrounded by these extremely assertive and intelligent women who inspired me to be the best version of myself. I spent a lot of my time sophomore year putting my all into the organization and loved every second of it. On the other hand, my friends just seemed to continue doing the same old Jersey stuff. That stuff started to bore me. I just didn’t find late night WaWa runs and hanging out at random house parties fun anymore. I loved D.C.
That summer, my home friends didn’t invite me out with them very much. They’d send messages in the group chat, but because I was in D.C. these texts didn’t apply to me. I rarely answered.
During a dinner with my friends the summer before I went abroad, they ignored me and decided to gossip about something I didn’t know or care about. I began to feel like an outsider among the girls I grew up with and trusted during my adolescence. At home, I felt lonely. I began to feel like I actually belonged in D.C.
In almost two years, I haven’t spoken to my home friends via text. I often wonder how different my life would’ve turned out if I’d remained close to them. I sometimes get jealous of my best friends at school. They still have long lasting friendships from home and their friends come to visit D.C. often. Although my current four best friends and roommates from college are the best women I have met in my life and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone, I still get a little feeling of sadness when my friend group from home uploads photos of them together—without me.
When I run into my friends from home, our relationship remains cordial. I wish they knew I never intentionally meant to upset them. Call me the world’s worst communicator.
Seeing them in public feels like seeing an ex. I feel weird at first but after I can’t help but think of all the fun times we spent together. And social media also plays a huge factor. When I see pictures or posts from them, whether good or bad, I still feel something.
I never expected I would grow apart from them as much as I did. But people change and that’s the way life goes sometimes. I’m happy with my current lifestyle and I want them feel just as satisfied with theirs as well.
They’ll always be the girls I first drank a Four Loko with or more importantly the girls I first trusted and loved outside of my family. My friends from high school and I may never be as close as we once were, but we will surely never be enemies.