Words by Maya Art by Zoe Alexiades
In my post high school naive mind, it was simple. We were young and jobless. We had the time and the freedom of going out instead of studying for exams. Our days were empty, waiting to be filled with adventure. But this new found freedom came at a cost. There was no more seeing the same faces every day. No more sitting on the oval laughing about stupid shit. No more cramming for a test together or late-night snapchatting mental breakdowns of how we were all doomed to fail.
You all hear how no one keeps in touch with their high school friends. But for some reason, I thought we would be different. I knew eventually those weekly messages would turn to monthly and soon to just another birthday wish. From a once tight knit group to going back to being strangers with a history.
From road trips to parties, we were supposed to be invincible. But life is a funny thing, inevitably attempts to meet up became near impossible. Trips out of state, babysitting duties, sickness and last minute emergencies. We weren’t in year 12 anymore. There was no more using “the studying excuse” to avoid seeing my dad’s side of the family which I didn’t get along with. Life took its place and slowly the messages reduced.
Long late-night conversations turn into a “hey” here and there. But that occasional “hey” is what keeps your friendship alive. We were both busy in our own lives but sometimes it is important that you reach out.
Maybe just a message about how the stress of uni is killing you and whoever told you it was so much easier than high school is crazy. Because when you do eventually meet up, it’ll be like nothing’s changed. So when you’re missing them, send them a message. Check in. Because the truth is, they’re probably missing you just as much as you do. They’re always there to hype you up on Insta or receive your stupid memes from time to time.
You probably didn’t expect uni to be this hard despite everyone telling you. You didn’t expect to sit at the library alone for lunch, watching another episode of your favourite show, waiting for your next class to start. You probably didn’t expect to feel a crippling sense of loneliness as you gaze at a group of friends in laughter. At this point in the semester, you probably thought that you would have found your people.
Making friends in university isn’t easy. You have to put yourself out there. As much as you would rather go straight home after class, stay back. See what’s there. Make the effort to make connections. Even if you’re feeling anxious, try and say hello to the people waiting for class to start. Talk about the weather or how you hate 8 am tutes. Sometimes the conversation flows and sometimes it doesn’t. You’ve only met one of 70,000 students. So pick yourself up and try again tomorrow. Friends of friends are cool too. Worst case, you can always roast your mutual friend. If that doesn’t seem to be working, uni is a great place to follow your secret passions. Whether it’s dance or taekwondo, there are people like you. All you have to do is take the risk and go for it. If you feel truly alone, know that there are people who will be there for you, whether it’s your high school friend or your neighbour.
While working on making new friends, don’t forget to work on maintaining your existing friendships. It can be just as difficult as creating new ones. It’s important that you put the effort into maintaining these friendships and make time to catch up. Instagram makes us think meetups have to be quite lavish but in reality, they don’t. Whether it’s going to the shops to run some errands or a quick workout at the gym, you don’t have to splash cash for it to be fun. If you and your friends go to the same uni, it’s even better. Make plans even if it means ditching a lecture that you probably weren’t going to go anyways. Social media comes in handy when being physically there isn’t an option. Tag them on Facebook, comment on their Instagram posts and maybe even give them a call.
It’s also important to remember that friendships ebb and flow. There can be times when you and your mate are thick as thieves and other times when you barely manage a catch up in 6 months. Friends can be more like family, even though you don’t see them, you still love them. A bond built on love, respect and loyalty are indestructible. Don’t be too quick to forget friendships, trust in them because when it matters most, those lifelong friends will show up.
On the flip side of friendships are bad friends. We’ve all had a bad friend. They’re the type of friend that would subtly pick on your insecurities. More pink flags to look out for? If they’re embarrassed of you or laugh at your expense. They cancel an hour before your movie date and avoid hanging out one-on-one at all costs. It’s a friend who says, “let’s catch up” but they can never make time for you. The friend that takes at least four days to reply to your messages but you see them posting on Snapchat a minute later. The friend that you’re there to listen to 24/7 but they can’t even lend you an ear. You need to recognise when it’s time to let go.
Friendships are messy and confusing. But it’s important that you keep putting yourself out there, maintaining your friendships and letting go of bad friends. Because the good memories are damn good and they make it all worth it.