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College Friendships & How They Are So Much More Beautiful Than I Expected

The summer before college, I spent a good deal of conversations with my friends talking about how we hoped we would find friendships in college like the kind we had with one another. I said it to my parents, my best friends, my mentors– I wanted friendships like the ones I had in high school. As someone who comes alive in community, life-long friendships, and that irreplaceable feeling of being known + loved, I knew that friendships would be a big part of my college experience.

Friendships, in the best circumstances, are relationships that remind us the very best of who we could be. The best kind of friends continually help you press toward the kind of person that they know you can be, that they have seen you be. They don’t remind you of the time you really messed up or the paper that you failed, but rather of the good you’ve done and the good you will do.

I spent all summer literally terrified that the friends I made in college wouldn’t be the same. Not only was I worried about making friends, but on top of that was worried that the friends I would meet wouldn’t actually like me, and after a month or so of being friends they would decide that I was actually pretty lame and would have found cooler, more hip people. I convinced myself that the close & beautiful relationships I had were the way they were because of the inordinate amount of time and experiences we had shared with one another. Of course we connected and had similar interests, but above all we had done life together. My best friend Julienne knows every story I have to tell and she still think it’s funny when I tell it for the billionth time– it was hard for me to imagine making friendships that weren’t based on history and time and stories. On the way to Memphis, I listened to Ben Rector’s Old Friends with basically every article of clothing in my trunk and cried huge tears. How could any relationship be so special as the kind where someone knows the name of every dog you’ve ever had & the combination lock to get into your home?

It didn’t take me too long at college to realize that we were all in the same boat. Throughout the summer, I never thought to consider that everyone was eager to meet new friends, but rather I only thought of how alone and isolated I would feel– everyone probably already knew everyone. However, the minute I got to campus it was clear that this wasn’t the case. As weeks passed by, I made meaningful and substantial friendships– people that I genuinely consider my best friends. I love things about them, I know things about them– just like my friends that I’ve known my entire life! I love Molly’s kindness, Madeleine’s creativity, Katie’s laugh– the list goes on and on. We haven’t known one another our whole lives, we didn’t spend prom dancing together, they weren’t there when I broke my nose in fourth grade– but they’re here now. They’re here in the late night studying, the funny stories that come with learning a new city, and the sheer joy that comes from finding a new church home, one that you call your own and that you go to with the same girls every single week.

Is it the same as in high school? No, of course not. I had dinner with an older friend over fall break, and she stressed to me how no two seasons of our life are ever alike. As I spoke about college to her I said, “it’s crazy because no season will ever be like college” and she said, “I’m 27, and no season of my life has ever been like this one and no season ever will. I used to live in Mississippi and now I live in New York, I love my job, but in 10 years or 5 years or 6 months, I could have a completely different job and my life could look completely different.” Now, I’m learning more to focus on the here and the beauty that is before my eyes. I’m endlessly thankful for what I have, the friendships that I made throughout my 18 years at home, the newness of college friendships, and the truth that both of those are beautiful and right and that every season has it’s place. 

Hi there! I'm a freshman at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and I love a good coffee shop, my sweet kitten, and female friendships.
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