Friend (n.): A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. These feelings of affection usually find their root in some common ground, such as a shared hobby or interest. For example, two people are sitting next to each other at a café. One has to go to the bathroom and asks the other to watch their stuff. When they get back from the bathroom, they thank the other for watching their stuff. Here would be the opportunity to strike up a conversation and therefore friendship. This hypothetical friendship would be rooted in the common choice they made to go to said café.
There are ~13,000 students who go to The New School, ~32,000 who go to Columbia, ~50,000 who go to NYU, and ~218,000 other students who go to other colleges located in Manhattan or Brooklyn. That’s ~313,000 students, not including those at colleges in Queens, The Bronx, etc. I have at least one thing in common with all ~313,000 of these people: being a student. Not to mention that we’re probably all broke, overall confused, living in New York City, and around the same age.
This social climate sounds very manageable, in theory. But NYU students hang out with NYU students, I have absolutely no clue who Columbia students hang out with I don’t think I’ve ever met one, and The New School is more clique-y than high school. Cliques are started by almost the same thing friendships are, except cliques form quicker and are usually dominated by a strict social hierarchy. Not to be dramatic, but this is a complete summary of making friends at TNS: if you aren’t already part of the clique, the clique probably won’t talk to/hang out with you, or you simply won’t fit in with the clique, both of these social diagnoses leading to one conclusion: this clique is not the one for you. You are then left to either find a new clique that you might fit better with, or say f*** it (like I did) and decide to make friends on your own.
Now, I’m perfectly fine with the friends I have right now. They’re genuine and kind and have helped me navigate a new city and a new life. However, I won’t be so bold as to say that there’s no room in my life for some more friends. I’m much more social in college than I was in high school, of course, but I can pretty much count on two hands the people I hang out with on a weekly basis. (Which is fine, and how I’ve been my whole life. I was never extremely social. If you knew me in high school, you know I graduated with (not exaggerating) three friends left. I ran the metaphorical friend pool completely dry besides the few stragglers I still have).
I find security and safety in my relationships (Jupiter in Taurus, sorry not sorry to bring up astrology!!!). I gravitate towards people I can form long-term attachments to, and when I find them, I do everything in my power not to let go. Once I attach, I attach. This is both a strength and a weakness of mine, but nevertheless attaching is what I do best. As I write this I’m laughing, because this habit of attaching to friends is the exact opposite of my relationship history. I’ve always been “one foot in the relationship, one already out the door.” I take my friendships much more seriously than I do my relationships, probably because I came to the conclusion very young that friendships were much more permanent than romantic relationships.
The one question I come back to is: why don’t I have more friends? Are we, Generation Z, really just less social than previous generations, and that’s when my notions about how many friends I “should” have date back to? We are definitely less able to socialize in person, this much no one can argue with. Have texting and interacting on social apps completely replaced social skills? Am I alone in how I feel about our generation, and the relationships I form, or is this a common critique? Am I the problem or is it all of us?