“You’re supposed to grow. Not be the same person you were a year, a month, a minute, two seconds ago.” — Dominic Riccitello
I’m not the same person I was in high school, though my sense of humor has remained the same. I laugh at everything; some people say it’s a fault. I love spending time alone with my cat Barlow watching Netflix or some films from my collection.
I have a very different group of friends now compared to my high school friends. In high school, I was friends with people because I thought that was who I wanted to be: superficial, mean and malicious to anyone who dared to be different; it was the only way I thought I could survive.
I always had a friend in class, so that I wouldn’t feel alone. I participated in events and on teams so that my time would be filled up; I didn’t want to spend a single moment in reflection. The majority of the time in high school, friendships are created and last because you see these people five times a week and multiple times a day, nothing deeper than that.
My friends now? Well that’s a different story.
Friendships aren’t served on a silver platter in college; they last because of the effort you put into them. In class, the effort of getting someone’s number and hanging out around both your class and work schedules is dedication. I struggled for the first few years because of this and none of my friendships stuck until I met Celina. She laughs at everything I say and believes I’m smart, and that’s how I feel about her. She accepted me for my obnoxious laugh and obsession with pizza. We bonded over a love for Lucille Ball and horrible Netflix film and I told her about my need to become the next Amy Schumer and that I love ridiculously ironic Vines.
Starting over new can be trying as well. As I walk amongst thousands of students I can’t help but feel like the lone one out. And out of all these people, the revelation becomes clear; I have the ability to choose. I don’t have to pick a rat pack to join or conform to fit in with a specific group of friends, like I did in high school. I was in band, so all my friends were in band. I was in AP and honor classes, so all my friends were. Now, I have the pleasure of being with people I actually want to spend my free time with, and I don’t have much of it, so I have to choose wisely.
In high school, I was selfish and lazy–not happy, but in college, I find and choose my own priorities, and making myself happy became a top priority in my book. During my three years of college I’ve learned that in order to become what I want to be, I have to put effort into it. Being lazy won’t change anything. Finding myself can be an odyssey, but it’s exciting because now I don’t have to look to others to see how I need to act. I can make all of these decisions myself, and this new freedom is so liberating.
I have the personality where I invite everyone in with welcome arms, but now I can choose who I want to keep. Most of my friends in high school were material friends, which clashed with my values. The people I associated myself with only cared about what was on paper, not about who you were as a person. College comes with the luxury to choose who you drop and keep as friends. Convenient friendships aren’t my thing, anymore.
I took my new found freedom and reconnected with my old friend, Sasha. We spent every day together making the most mundane activities into adventures and fond memories, whether buying our groceries at Club Pub or getting the cheapest gas in Tallahassee. Being with her makes every activity amazing. She understands my weird quirks and obsession with television and films. We found ourselves in each other, and I’m so proud to say I found my soul mate in her.
Another friend I made in Tallahassee was Patrick, and he changed my life. I had never found someone with the same anxiety or self-doubt as me, but he proved to me that being this way doesn’t have to make you miserable. I’m constantly laughing at his idiotic jokes or going to one of his concerts. He introduces me to new music, including Arcade Fire and The National. I don’t feel like I am struggling to find myself with him.
It took some time for me to find my roots, but once I did, I found my family. My best friends are always there for me during the easy and hard times, care about my well-being and we enjoy our time together. Being freed to find myself was the best thing to ever happen to me. It doesn’t mean I was fake or a phony in high school, but college changed my surroundings and to survive, I had to become myself.