When I was five I could hold some kid down against his will, openly fart on his face and still garner his undying friendship. As time rolls, you learn friendship isn’t that easy to find. Now as a college senior, I can spend an entire weekend one on one in a bathtub with someone, discussing our untold secrets, romanticizing about the future and never see that person ever again. It’s because friends are never truly yours. Not a single friend will drop anchor to stay with you; not a single friend will miss a fresh job opportunity because of you. So to say, friendship is more or less opportunistic.
If it is convenient for someone to be your friend, they will hang around. So viewing friendship through this lens should make the future a bit less stinging. That’s not to say all friendships are situational; you’ll likely stay in contact with some people until you turn old and gray. Depending on when you find these friends, though, you can often determine the outcome of said friendship.
Predict the future of your friendships depending on when you find them in college.
First few weeks of freshman year
Shelf-life of technique: First month (give or take) of your freshman year.
Fair warning: If you don’t yoke the gas-pedal the minute you saddle up to your freshman dorm, you might spend each and every last weekend excluded and sad, crying as you walk down the hallways. That is hyperbole of course, but you really should mentally prepare yourself to be the most outgoing and optimistic person you have ever been, that first couple week. Pro tip: Everything you feel, they feel too.
Since friendship is mostly situational, the people you live next to eagerly want to become your friend. Everyone sporadically sprints around from room to room hoping to find their next best friend. And calling dibs on anything that walks (that’s why all my friends freshman year were dogs).
But you’ll likely only call these people your “best friends” for the next four years. People don’t want to meet the “best” friends, they want to meet “some” friends so they can stop actively trying to look uncool. And when their minds stop telling them they are alone, they stop trying to make new friends. This is why you will meet friend groups with people of all personality types. Who cares if they like hanging out? They have friends, and that’s all that matters. So please, get out there and be social right away. But also be choosy so you find the right friends.
First few weeks of classes each semester
Shelf-life of technique: All four years
Theoretically, you get about eight tries to find friends if you try at the start of each semester. But once again, you must make an out-of-body type spirt of extroversion. This means approaching and sitting next to someone during the first few classes, getting their contact information to study together and solidifying a friendship from the ground up.
This is easy if you want to put the work in. People don’t like going through life experiences, like a college class, without a support system or someone they can relate to about their failed exam. Fill the part of their minds that need you. Do that, and you shouldn’t have trouble getting four of five new friends each semester.
Activities (Greek Life, Clubs, etc.)
Shelf-life of technique: Basically all four years
You may be thinking I’m some kind of college rep trying to get you more involved in campus life. And in a way, I am. I am telling you right now, these clubs are almost like cults. If inducted in the group and an active participant, you will make friends and they will go to the ends of the Earth for you.
I never joined a frat. But the friendships that grow within the walls of frats get pretty intense. Some say joining a frat is like paying for your friends. To them I say: Of course it is, but who cares? Making friends is really hard. If you have an easy way to join and make great friends, take that opportunity. Friendship is a much more valuable currency than money.
Join clubs and ask them people to hang out after the meetings end. If you put yourself in a situation to be annoyingly present, you will eventually become friends by nothing else but the sheer amount of time spent together.
Believe it or not, people want to make connections. People do hate having to battle their own social anxiety. It is easier to be friends with dud-heads who are always there, then to look up from your cell-phone, take out your earbuds and ask a potential friend to go to the circus with you. One final pro tip: Ask someone whose conversation you enjoy to go hang out at the circus (or really anywhere) with you. Hanging out makes a friendship real. And it is possible to create that connection whenever and with whomever. Choose your friends instead of letting the situation dictate your life from the sidelines.