Do you ever look at the friends you made in college and think how insane it was to not only have met them during this important stage of your life, but also still enjoy their presence even after witnessing how monstrous they can get during midterms/finals (and vice versa)?
Upon first entry onto campus, colleges immediately establish a weird set of parameters for comfort:
1. Here is your place for food and nourishment. It’s not as bad as everyone says.
2. Here is your place for rest and relaxation. It’s not as bad as everyone says.
See all of these strangers around you that we’ve gathered from across the country and abroad based on grade point average and extracurriculars?
3. Here are your new friends. For happiness and support. They’re not as bad as everyone says.
Strangely enough, we all went along with it. We ate the (not so bad) food. We slept in the (not so bad) dorms. We came to love these (not so bad) strangers for all of their quirks and ambitions; weird upbringings and crazy stories. They became our best friends, closest confidantes, and biggest fans.
It’s interesting, then, when you get the chance to meet the ones who’ve had a hand in shaping these friends into the wonderful people that they are today. It’s even a little daunting. Will they be nice? Do they know how much I know about them? More importantly, how much do they know about me?
Meeting the family of your closest friends in college is much different than it is in high school. In high school, you constantly saw the parents of your friend, their siblings and cousins went to school with you–their family was your family from the very beginning of the friendship.
Here, you chose your friends completely on your own. You didn’t have to go through awkward 15 second phone chats with their mom to ask your friend a homework question. You didn’t have to prepare elaborate lies to stay out late with them. Here, you’ve seen a side of your friend completely devoid of their family’s influence. Chances are, you’ve already had the opportunity to meet one or two of their family members through their New Orleans’ visits or your adventurous trips to their state, but graduation presents a whole new opportunity to see your friends in a different light. And as this date gets closer and closer, meeting the family members that your friend has told you everything and nothing about will probably go a little something like this:
What you’ll see
Whether you’re meeting the sibling, cousin, or parent of your friend, there’s an underlying similarity that can be noticed between the relatives, either in physicality and/or mannerisms. You also see your friend assume whatever role they play in their family dynamic; the person you’ve known for years instantly shape-shifts before your eyes into a sweet, gentle baby-faced kitten.
Where is the potty-mouthed, loud, opinionated person you first befriended four years ago?? Where did this docile creature come from?? While embarrassing and innocent childhood stories of your friend are divulged, you’re tempted to pitch in a few college anecdotes of their child to balance out that sickly sweetness– but a sharp look from your friend stops you from spilling the good stuff (also, they could just as easily do the same to you–friendship and blackmail go hand in hand like that).
What you’ll hear
It’s as if your friend’s accent and little idiosyncrasies have multiplied and immediately been dispersed throughout a large group of people.
Suddenly, everyone’s saying “melk” instead of “milk,” “bag-els” instead of “bagels,” and uttering virtually unknown phrases to communicate their feelings (“If I tell you a chicken dips snuff, you just look under his wing for the can” instead of “Stop asking questions and just trust me!”). Childhood nicknames surface, you now understand why Cousin Jeff is not allowed at family functions, and you entertain the thought of growing up in that household.
What you’ll learn
You’ve known your friend all throughout college. You know what makes them irritated; what makes them laugh and cry; what makes them continuously worry. You’ve gotten to the point where you can take Buzzfeed quizzes for them (“I just got Ann, but don’t worry, I took the quiz again for you and surprise! You’re Leslie!). But meeting their family puts everything about your friend–their demeanor, obsessions, phrasings, beliefs or lack thereof, and personality–in perspective. They finally make so much more sense to you as a person.
It occurs to you that while you’d been going through the events and experiences of your life, your future best friends were in their little corners of the world, going through similar or completely different experiences of their own. And while you both can agree that your friendship now is stronger than a thousand oxen (or something like that), you both can also agree that this bond might not have worked out in the same way had you met at any other prior stage of your lives.
So thank goodness for college, self-actualization, and perfect timing. Because in all honesty, there’s a good chance y’all would have hated each other in high school.