You spend most of college life surrounded by people. You devote time to chatting with your roommates, planning events with friends in students orgs and even just texting your bestie in class. But do you ever take time to step back and reflect on how you could improve your interactions friends and people around you?
When it comes to friendships, sometimes we take our best friends for granted and fail to realize the great things they can offer us, or we stop paying attention and don’t realize when a problem arises. Maybe your friend cancels a movie night and goes to a party because she doesn’t realize how important the movie night was to you. If you feel left out, is something really wrong with your friendship, or is it all in your head? I’ve experienced both sides of the spectrum. And sometimes you have to let go of friendships while other times you should evaluate your own emotions before blaming a friend.
A few weeks ago my friend’s frat threw a huge, open party. He told me to come and bring as many people as I wanted. I was excited to go because I don’t get to see him much anymore. Still, I valued him as a nice guy I could always rely on. After pregaming at my place, I walked over to the party with my friends just 45 minutes after it had started. Little did I know, the freshmen had already filled the off-campus frat house. The frat brothers began yelling at everyone to get out of the yard and walk somewhere else, so I texted my friend sure he’d help me and my friends get in. He simply responded, “The party is full.” No apology. No nothing. This might be a petty thing to end a friendship over, especially without asking for his side of the story, but I was just so confused. Who invites someone to a party and then leaves them to figure it out on their own? That’s when I decided that I didn’t need to spend my time and energy on this “friend.” We usually only communicated over text and were more acquaintances than anything else anyway.
Now, if I can’t write down at least a few positive, concrete aspects that someone adds to my life, I don’t consider them a real friend anymore. Plus, when a real-life situation arises that’s when you’ll realize the friendship that stayed afloat via text for two years may be fading, and that’s okay.
However, sometimes your own problems get in the way of your most important friendships. I met my best friend at the beginning of my sophomore year of college. She was a year older than me and led the Nicaragua service trip I would attend that winter break; we also worked together at a pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen at my church on campus. One day while we were working she mentioned having an extra (and more importantly, cheap) ticket to the Ed Sheeran concert coming up. I quickly accepted the offer and could feel a new friendship growing right before my eyes.
Little did I know that at this pre-orientation program we worked at she also met her future boyfriend. They started dating when we all went out for my birthday in early October. As time passed, I had trouble finding alone time with my friend to bond just the two of us. I didn’t feel like she made time for our friendship to grow. Instead she spent time texting her new boyfriend during our conversations and constantly asking me for advice on every little thing about relationships. Was I the only one who was invested in our friendship?
Then one day I went to a movie with my friend and her boyfriend, and although she held hands with her boyfriend during the entire film, she whispered all of her silly commentary to me. This small action, talking to me during the movie, gave me so much validation that my best friend wasn’t leaving me out.
I thought about all the dynamics of our friendship and then her’s with her boyfriend. Then, I thought back to high school when I was in a relationship someone; I knew how it felt to check your phone every five minutes for a text from him or to only have eyes for him when he entered the room even I was already having a conversation with a friend. I knew how overwhelming those emotions could be in a romantic relationship and how that person could take up all your time and attention.
Turns out, I was hardcore jealous toward my friend’s blossoming relationship with her boyfriend. Their relationship closely resembled the serious relationship I had in high school, and being around them all the time sent me back to my anxious 17-year-old self. Yes, I would love to spend more time with her, but I realized I also missed having a boyfriend in my life. Every time he held the door for her or wished her good luck on a test, I remembered the relationship I used to have. My loneliness stemmed from the fact that I still wasn’t completely comfortable being single after high school.
As soon as I realized the source of my negative emotions, and could confidently tell myself she wasn’t leaving me out, I could no longer be angry at her. I stopped letting my jealousy make me think my best friend was a bad friend. Since she and I met through our church on campus, I now take the time in every day to find these #GodMoments in honor of our friendship, whether it’s in the beautiful fall leaves on the sidewalk or facing those less desirable emotions that we all have sometimes–like envying a friend’s newfound relationship status.
You meet so many people throughout your four years at college, and relationships and friendships inevitably shift. Some get stronger, and some fade away. At times you’re only imagining that friends leave you out and ignore you, but sometimes they really do just cast you to the side. But remember, there’s no such thing as your friends leaving you out. If they leave you out with complete awareness of what they’re doing, they’re not your friends. But double check to make sure you’re not stuck in your own head and your own emotions. Because then your friend might just be the perfect friend for you after all.