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How Do People Maintain Friendships After College?

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.

Graduation is a month from today, and the next few weeks will be full of tests and assignments, last-minute deadlines, gowns and tassels, job applications, and some final moments with friends as college undergraduates. Managing all of this seems nearly impossible, and I am terrified that I’m going to blink and suddenly I’ll be in my cap and gown (drenched in sweat) standing amidst the rubble of the stadium, panicking as to how I got there. Endings are always bittersweet, and I think that college graduation is one of those life moments that is both highly anticipated but also incredibly unknown—it marks the end of a time in one’s life, the end of an iconic purgatory (pleasant and fun but transient). Life after college is exciting, and there are so many possibilities waiting for us all. The beginning of careers and relationships, building new homes and lives and all the expansive promises and challenges of the future.

One of my biggest fears about graduation is the changes in my friendships. College is a wonderful time because the friendships you form are intrinsically unique to the spaces you reside in—the iconic first college roommate, sorority sisters, fellow club members—it’s a time where friendships can be formed on shared interests, and you develop close bonds because of the peculiarity of your situation. I believe that some friendships can only exist for a single season in your life, but that does not lessen the profound impact of the friendship. Other friendships are more enduring, and I know that I have made some wonderful friends during college that I want in my life forever. The final month before graduation is a time to grieve some of the relationships that you fear might be lost to this space and time, while also bolstering and planting deeper roots into other relationships. I can’t predict the future, and I don’t know which of my friendships will last. I also believe that there is no limit to loving people, and I know that I will continue to meet people who will impact my life.

I’m a terrible slow burn when it comes to building friendships. It was with a shock that one of my closest friends told me I was hard to get to know—I had always thought I rushed into things, I gave too much away, I exhausted people. And yet she felt that she only really got to know me after we had been friends for two or three years. I often think back to some of my deepest friendships and question how they first began, but then I remember that the friendship is so strong because I met them as children, we grew up together, and I’ve known them all my life. It happens all the time in my life that I will finally start feeling comfortable and open in a relationship or community and then it’s over. I’m afraid of losing friends because it takes me a long time to make them, and the thought of starting over is terrifying to me.

I can’t prophesize about how my relationships will change after college, but I’m not completely pessimistic about it. The openness of the future is going to give me the space to breathe and figure out my goals, and I am so excited to see my friends grow and change.

I have friends all over the world, and maintaining those relationships is so important to me, and it takes intentionality. I have to be responsible; I have to communicate; I have to listen. But phone calls and facetimes are never enough. I see them again, and it’s like nothing has changed because we both try to be there, as we were, for the other person. I am sad that my friends and I may end up on entirely different life paths, living in different states or continents, but I know that I have the power to maintain these friendships. I am excited to see how they blossom and grow in the complete unknown.

Mallory Wells is a senior studying psychology at the University of Kansas. She is a lover of contemporary fiction, milk tea, and picnics with friends.