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I was walking around the lower level of the dining hall to find an available seat when suddenly I found my friend Emma, whom I had not seen in a while. Once she gestured me to sit down in the chair next to hers, we started to catch up. After the usual small talk about classes and clubs we’re getting involved with, I was listening to her in awe as she told the story about how after thinking for years that she wanted to be an English major, she was going to major in biology. Emma, in turn, was equally attentive when I told her about my love for my introduction to legal studies class. This entire semester I’ve been feeling like I’m moving non-stop, yet could never stay ahead for the life of me; however, I felt at peace after talking to Emma.

Throughout our conversation, I thought about how we met while we were both experiencing difficult life circumstances, and here we are. We’ve both been busy taking on new and different responsibilities, but we still know how to find our way back to each other as friends. Suddenly, I realized that reuniting with old friends is therapeutic in its own right. There’s a beautiful quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that says, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” But isn’t this entirely true? If we are lucky enough to meet good people while navigating life’s difficulties, wouldn’t this allow us to bond with them, possibly for life? While you’re both struggling, at least you’re struggling together. The best part is that you can observe your growth with this person, which I argue is a privilege because you can look back and discover where you are and where you started. After all, we’ll always be the same person as we were when we first met this friend, yet you can recognize how you’ve both grown.

Even if you are not in a place in life where you can see this friend as often as you did during your rough patches, you can always find a healthy amount of comfort in them. (By “healthy,” I mean that you can safely spend time with this person while still opening yourself up to new experiences). Emma and I, for example, are undoubtedly in different positions in life than we were when we had first met. But, whenever we see each other, we can easily fall back into place like in old times, are instantly reminded of the fun we can have together, and find serenity in our conversations. This is the part that I argue is therapeutic. Whenever times are hard, talking with an old friend you met during a difficult phase in your life can provide calm and clarity. In a way, it serves as a reminder for you that you can always find safety in the good people you choose to surround yourself with because you realize that this is the type of friend who you know will help you when you have a problem, or are in desperate need of a pep talk. If they have helped you in the past, wouldn’t you hope they would do so again now or in the future?

When it comes to genuine friends like these, amid your mutual struggles, you yearn to help each other out in ways that are feasible for both of you to do. You can easily communicate this and be direct without hurting each other—Emma and I had this dynamic during the semester we had met. We understood that the only way to get through a tough semester was by supporting each other and checking in with each other, even if the only way we could do that at times was by getting dinner together (because, unless you’re doing homework, eating alone can be depressing). It ultimately boils down to you trusting that this person won’t flake on you; they are stable and steady even when it seems like your entire world is unstable and on shaky ground. And isn’t this the role of a good therapist? Wouldn’t a good, old friend also want to be your lighthouse, guiding you back to shore when all you see is darkness and turbulent waters?

The next time you need to slow down and try to give yourself a break, see if you can call an old, genuine friend, and reunite with them. Not only is it nice to see what they’re up to nowadays, but you’d be surprised by the immense feelings of pleasure you can experience by observing how far you two have come. Even after all this time, you’re amazed that they can still ground you and bring you back to reality.

Olivia Hynes

Kenyon '24

Olivia Hynes is a sophomore prospective English and Arabic double major with a concentration in Law & Society at Kenyon College. A self-described "word nerd," Olivia enjoys reading novels from various authors from the 20th and 21st centuries and writing short stories whenever inspiration strikes. When she's not writing for Her Campus, Olivia can be seen watching some goofy sitcoms or obsessively listening to a Broadway musical soundtrack.
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