Keep Your Friends Close and Your Frenemies Away

College is the ultimate opportunity for growth in a person’s life. As college students, we are living on our own, trying new things, and shaping ourselves into the people we want to be—possibly for the first time ever. We need positive people in our lives to lift us up and encourage us to be better. It’s important for us to evaluate the kind of friends we have made and determine if they should have a place in our lives.

A good friend is somebody who has a positive influence on your life. They make sure that you are trying to find new opportunities, and they hype you up every time you reach a goal or accomplish something. These people are always there for you, even when you fail an exam or get rejected by that guy that they ‘never liked anyways.’ They make you feel valued, accepted, and never forgotten. You know that you can trust them because they want you to be successful, and they make an active effort to include you in their lives.

On the other hand, people who are toxic are harder to pick out. Even people that you have known for years can turn out to be the ones that are hurting your lifestyle, and your first reaction might be to defend them instead of persecute them. If you get the feeling that somebody is hanging out with you just for the snapchat post, they probably aren’t a friend. If someone only seems to ask how you’re doing so that they have new gossip, they probably aren’t a friend. Or, if somebody only seems to text you when they need something (like class notes for the sixth class that they’ve skipped), they’re probably not a friend. These relationships can be upsetting, draining, and discouraging—and very hard to identify. However, getting these people out of your life is vital for your personal growth. You can’t be better when someone is being selfish or making you feel unappreciated, and you don’t need them cramping your style. 

Of course, it’s not easy to end any kind of friendship. You can’t exactly walk up to a friend yelling “We’re done! I’m leaving you for someone who appreciates me!” like you could a boyfriend. Well, you could, but that might be a little over-the-top. So, if you feel like somebody is dragging you down, how can you approach the situation? First, you have to be honest—tell them that they make you feel bad and tell them why. If they listen, it means that they value you as a friend, and they might be worth another chance. However, if they blow you off or don’t take you seriously, they don’t have a place with you. Stop hanging out with them, stop trusting them, and stop giving them notes for that stupid class. They aren’t making you better, and you don’t need to feel like you owe them anything, no matter what they’ve done for you in the past or how long you have known them. People change, and it’s not always for the better. 

The next step in ensuring that you are surrounded by positive people, then, is to branch out and try to build new friendships. There are thousands of people on our campus, each with different interests and ambitions. Talk to the kids in your classes and try to find a new study buddy. Go to campus social events and make an effort to meet people you don’t know. Join a club or intramural sports team to find others that share your interests. There are many opportunities to meet people like you that will support you. 

Most importantly, make sure that you are being a good friend to the people in your life. Your true friends deserve someone that reciprocates their efforts. Check up on them, encourage them, and be there for them, so that they will know their friendship isn’t wasted. Building up these relationships in your life will allow you to be happy and confidents, and you will truly grow throughout your college experience.