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Experiences

Let’s Be Friends, Even If We Aren’t Freshmen

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I type: “Hey! Idk if you remember me too well, but we hung out a few times our freshmen year pre-COVID. I hope your semester is going well. I actually took a year off and just got back to New York at the beginning of the month. I was wondering if you’d want to grab lunch sometime and catch up? I know it’s been a while, but I’m looking to reconnect with people I used to be friends with and I’d love the chance to do so with you!!

I hover my finger over the blue arrow, wondering if I should send the text. Sometimes I do. Some people answer. Most people don’t. Everyone talks about how making friends freshmen year can be hard, so there are plenty of events for new students, an entire orientation, and a general sense of “hey everyone’s in the same situation, they’ll understand if I randomly ask to get dinner”. Everyone goes through an adjustment period when they first move in. 

But there is no guide for returning to your senior year from a year long leave of absence, especially when the only time you spent on campus was a semester and a half your freshman year. My entire sophomore year was remote. I didn’t do a junior year (I won’t get into the math, but it worked out to take a year off and graduate with my original class). So here I am, a senior with a few very close friends, whom I am very grateful for, but that’s it. 

No one prepares you for the loneliness of returning to campus after a year off, the awkwardness of rejoining clubs you did your freshman year and realizing that you don’t recognize anyone. I know with time I’ll make new friends and maybe reconnect with a few old ones. Friends come and go, but the experiences I had in my year off will stay with me, and if I could go back, I wouldn’t change my decision to take time off from school.

It’s difficult to be honest and write about loneliness. Except I know that others feel this way too. I’ve seen anonymous posts on Reddit or Columbia Confessions claiming to be juniors or seniors looking for friends. I hear you. I’ve seen your posts. But we can’t become friends if we don’t know who we are. I want to be able to ask someone I vaguely know to get dinner, as if we’re both first years, and both in need of friends. Even as I write this, the idea intimidates me. What if they say no? Will they secretly laugh at me? Probably not. They’re probably just busy. And I know that even though that’s the case for most people, it’s hard to zoom out and assume the best intentions of others when it comes to ourselves. But I challenge you to ask yourself: do you have unopened text messages? Are there times that someone asks you to hang out and you want to but genuinely have something else planned? For each no you get, it’s likely not because they actually hate you or think you’re stupid. At least that’s what I’m telling myself…

But imagine they say yes. Imagine you ask someone to grab lunch after class, and they say yes, and two months later you’ve got a new really good friend that you wouldn’t have had if  you never started the conversation. It’s advice I need to follow myself, but I challenge you to try it as well. Because maybe your new best friend is in your math class. And in the meantime, if you need a friend, I’m always looking to make more of them. Feel free to reach out. We can go to Riverside Park or play card games or grab lunch or whatever it is that you’re interested in. Let’s change the narrative that making friends is for freshmen year. Making friends is for everybody every.

Carina Layfield

Columbia Barnard '23

Carina is a senior at Barnard majoring in Urban Studies and minoring in Italian. In her free time she enjoys discovering new recipes and spending time outside. She can be reached at crl2149@barnard.edu or @carina.layfield on Instagram.
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