By: Sarah Dai
Edited By: Joy Jiang
For most people, university feels like a fresh start in life: you move away from home, get a taste of real freedom, experience different environments, and meet tons of new, exciting people. You hear stories about people who meet their life-long best friends in university — after all, friends who struggle and cry over exam seasons together are bound to stick together forever. However, it is also important to take a moment to appreciate your pre-uni friends, AKA high school (or earlier) friendships and relationships. Although it is true that you will most likely drift apart from a lot of them, you will soon see that the ones who stick around actually do a lot for your emotional stability and mentality post high school life. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see why high school friendships are the best, why they are important and healthy in University, and ways you can maintain them.
1. They have stood by you through all of your awkward phases and cringe-worthy drama in high school
We have all gone through our share of embarrassing, yet hilarious situations in high school, whether that was a drunk hook-up with an ex, or the time you forgot your gym clothes and was forced to wear the disgusting extra-large t-shirt from the teacher’s office. They all made you want to crawl into a hole and never come out when it happened. Yet, somehow, you survived through it. How? Because your friends stood by you through it all. No matter how many stupid mistakes you continued to make, they were there. Sure, they might have laughed from time to time or even endlessly teased you about it, but if somebody else outside of your squad tried to make fun of you for it, you know they would be there to knock down that jerk faster than the spread of a rumor about so-and-so’s relationship.
Don’t even get me started on awkward phases: there have been too many to count. When I was in grade 11, I went through a phase of drawing on thick, bushy eyebrows. I don’t really know why I did it; I just didn’t really care and was too lazy to learn how to do it properly. Looking back on pictures now, I simultaneously want to kick my friends for not telling me how awful they looked, and at the same time hug them for being okay with being seen in public with me. All in all, these people have seen you at your worst and most humiliating moments, yet they still love you. New friends are great, but they haven’t seen you in your glory high school days, such as the time when you impulsively decided to bleach all your hair and then proceeded to hate it, or the time when you continuously made terrible decisions and then was petty about not being right after. Those memories, although extremely embarrassing, adds character to who you are. Having people to remind you of your silliness and uniqueness is great because sometimes in university students feel the need to act unnecessarily sophisticated and perfectly put-together all the time because we are supposedly “adults” now. During times when you feel like everything is falling apart, you will find that your high school friends are the best people to turn to because you just know they will understand.
2. You and your friends literally spent 5+ hours together every single day
High school differs from university in the sense that in high school, you saw the same people for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. There was no way to avoid anyone, especially if you went to a small school. Your group of friends essentially became the only people that you could tolerate at your school, so you spent practically every waking moment with them. You ate together, gossiped together, laughed together, cried together, and skipped class together (shhh, don’t act like you haven’t done that before). One time, all of my friends decided to volunteer for a school event. While the event itself turned out to be pretty lame, my friends and I remember it being a fun night. Everyone was together and at one point, we ditched our volunteer stations (nobody was there anyway) and played cards for hours. Every day, it seemed like new inside jokes are created, new memes were made, and you all just sat around wondering why you don’t have your own sitcom TV show. This will continue in university because your high school friends will have even more crazier stories to tell you, and they will likely be 10 times wilder. Group calls never get dull, and you could spend hours talking because it just seems like the natural thing to do. Who needs to finish that Anthropology assignment, my friends have gossip for me!
3. Your friendship was able to withstand the intensity and craziness of high school
Let’s admit it, everyone went a little crazy at some point during their high school career. Shy Sally dyed her hair purple and decided to try the whole punk rock scene; studious Lizzie had a full mental breakdown and didn’t show up to school for a week; and of course, there was all the drama concerning crushes, boyfriends, and guys in general. It’s likely that everyone has liked at least one other person in their friend group at some point, meaning it either created funny stories to share, or a weird, awkward tension between everyone. Either way, it’s safe to say high school was a roller coaster that continued to throw huge curve-balls at everyone. Of course, there were moments when you just couldn’t stand some of your friends, but those moments were true tests of friendship. If you got past them, they made you realize just how meaningful and awesome it was that you had found each other. For me, grade 12 was the best, yet most drama-filled year of high school. There were so many catty fights and unnecessary secrets. There were some friendships that definitely withered as a result of these arguments and drama. However, the friendships that did make it to the end of that school year made me realise who my true friends are. If your friendship can stand the crazy rollercoaster that is high school, trust me, it can survive a little distance in university.
4. Familiarity is AWESOME
The best thing about high school friendships is that you have all gotten so close that you don’t even remember a time when you weren’t friends. You can just all chill and do nothing and it would still be a blast. There is no need for small talk or “getting to know” a person. The first thing you say to your friend in the morning sound something along the lines: “GIRL. You would not believe what Jason texted me this morning!” There are no polite “good mornings,” or “how are you today?” because there is no time for such talk anyway. There is some important tea to be spilt! The same holds true now. When you and your friends Skype call, it feels like no time has passed, and before you know it, four hours have passed and you are watching one of your friends perform some ridiculous magic trick. You then question what you are doing with your life, but you kind of love it anyway.
5. You can count on them to tell you the absolute truth (even if it hurts)
For example, when picking out outfits for the day:
New friend: That looks great on you!
High school/old friend: It looks okay, but you know what would look even better with that skirt? Your blue off the shoulder shirt with flowers on it!
When it comes to seeing new guys:
New friend: You’re single, he’s single. GO FOR IT.
High school friend: Are you going out with him because you actually like him or because you are just lonely? Hmmm, I see right through you, girl.
When it comes to getting back together with your ex:
New friend: If you really love him, maybe he deserves a second chance?
High school friend: WHAT. ARE. YOU. THINKING?!
6. But they are also your number one support system
They know you inside and out. No matter how dumb or ridiculous you think the situation is, they are always there to listen. Simple as that.
7. They act as a stress reliever for you
You don’t have to be overly enthusiastic and nice all the time. You can be completely yourself. You can be sad, stressed, or lonely and they will not judge. Conversely, you can be excited, happy, and loving life, and they will be there cheering you along. You don’t have to try with them because they are your day-one homies, and it is the best thing in the entire world.
How can you maintain these great friends?
This may seem like an obvious solution to the whole long-distance connection thing, but it really works! This is a really good option because it is the closest you will get to seeing them until winter/spring/summer break. Just be aware, it is super time consuming and before you know it, you have spent your entire afternoon catching up instead of studying for your midterms.
Text Message/Social Media
Even though some people argue that social media such as Instagram and Snapchat is getting in the way of people interacting with each other in real life, it actually helps when it comes to maintaining contact with people far away. Sometimes video/audio calling might not always be available or convenient. For some, they simply might no like using these methods of communication. In those cases, I have become eternally grateful for apps like Snapchat because it has allowed me to stay close with some friends and keep updated on what is going on in their lives. Sure, it may seem like a shortcut to communicating, but arguably, it has already been integrated into the culture of our modern, digitally advanced society, so why not simply embrace it and use it to its full extent? I have a few friends who simply don’t have the time to sit down and chat on the phone for hours. However, I am still able to stay close with them because we message each other and Snapchat daily. In this way, I feel as if I am still a part of their day-to-day lives.
Check in daily
Even if it is a quick “Hi, how are you?” it shows that you care and that you are putting in the effort to maintain contact with them. This goes a long way. With my closest friends, I get daily updates about important things that are happening in their lives. Even though it is not the same thing as talking to them face-to-face every day, it still provides me with happiness to know that distance has not caused us to completely drift apart.
Maintaining a Balance
With that all being said, University is still about exploring and discovering new things. Maintaining high school friends are important, but also make sure you are still getting to know the people around you. They might be really nice and amazingly awesome too! Even if it seems a little stiff and awkward at first, you will get past this stage and eventually, you will arrive at the same level of comfort with them as your high school friends. These new university friends will be there for you through midterms and finals, and new boy dramas. You will create many wonderful new memories.
Find a balance between maintaining your old friends and making new ones. They are both important in helping you shape a healthy and stable university life, both mentally and emotionally.