One of the hardest parts of going to college is leaving behind high school friends. The harsh reality is that hometown friendships don’t have the odds in their favor, challenged by many months apart, conflicting break schedules and increasingly busy lives. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that most high school friendships fade away, leaving us with a few forever-friends from home and many more new, real and lasting friendships in college.
Thinking back to Thanksgiving break my freshman year, what I remember most is the anticipation. There I was, curled up in my bus seat, surrounded by BC students I didn’t know and naïvely unaware of the hours of traffic that awaited me. All I wanted was to be home with my family, my friends and my boyfriend, most of whom I hadn’t seen since the summer. There had been no tearful goodbyes between my few new friends and me; compared to my friends from home, they still seemed like strangers. They didn’t yet know me like my Jersey friends did, and I was excited to once again be comfortable and safe in well-worn routines.
Flash forward to Christmas break of this year. As a sophomore, I’m living in a suite with my seven best friends, which has come to mean that, aside from class, we spend all of our time together. There’s no more high school boyfriend, ending the frequent trips home and making me much more present in my life at BC. Gone is the awkward, unsure, homesick girl I once was. A year later, BC is as much my home as Moorestown, NJ. My friends here feel like a second family, the people I miss when I leave and the ones I tackle instead of hug when I’m back.
I don’t mean to devalue high school friendships; I just have found that as one grows up, there are really only a few people at home worth keeping around. You don’t want to spend you precious time home on forced coffee dates with everyone you called a friend in high school. Those “friends” are a product of senior year, the really special, weird time of grad parties, prom and much less homework during which a high school graduating class bonds (or at least pretends to). However, with distance and time, those relationships fade, leaving only the people for whom you are willing to make an effort.
Contrastingly, when you get to college, friends are the people you choose. You are on your own, without a reputation to hold you back, making any BC student a potential, achievable friend. It’s easy to quickly latch on to friends of convenience, like roommates, but unlike in high school, there are just too many people and opportunities to justify settling for a mediocre friendship. I didn’t really make my true BC friends until second semester freshman year, but once I did, they were people whom I liked through and through.
In addition, most often the person you become in college is a truer version of yourself. You aren’t faking a personality for popularity or feeling boxed in by an arbitrary social status. Instead, you can actually be yourself, meaning your college friends might actually know you better than your high school friends did. History does count for something, but living with your college friends will result in countless shared memories, many of which wouldn’t happen in the context of high school.
High school and college friendships can certainly coexist, but I do think that the healthiest balance between the two involves fewer from home and more from college. The limited high school friends I still have are some of the most important people in my life, people who I still talk to regularly and whose advice and company I value. However, the many friendships that I’ve made in college have all been real, strong and enduring. Now, I look forward to going back to school as much as I look forward to going home.