Credit: Dora_Dziki

Expect less from your friends

What if you can’t find ‘your people’ at university?

Hello fresher! Here is your welcome bag, flat key, and existential panic about finding a friend or risking being forever alone. Okay, three, two, one, go!

Friendships are under discussed for how integral they are to our lives. This is evident in the endless vocabulary and labelling we use to explain and understand our romantic relationships, while our more meaningful, long term, friendships float around in the vast and not terribly descriptive zone of friendship. 

As you enter halls you are on high alert because everyone is a potential friend. Maybe you have a really great friend at home so you know what a good friend should be like, and you want one for while you are at university. How greedy. As we all know the most important factor in friendship is – that’s right – physical proximity. How to become close to someone? Stand near them long enough. It’s remarkably simple. If you cannot achieve immediate and meaningful friendship this way, there must be something fundamentally wrong with you as a human being. 

Like a well-adjusted person you latch onto someone who lives down the hall and jump headlong into a relationship. You put all this pressure onto this unsuspecting party and push them towards a level of friendship, of trust and reliance, that, had you taken the time to get to know them, you would have never given them the privilege of. By semester two it’s all fallen apart.

When you attach yourself to people too quickly, critical thinking goes out the window because you are so desperate to have a friend, what kind of friend you have is not of importance. Perhaps you should consider a more stoic approach. It would be unrealistic if everyone became best friends for life with whatever random they were put in halls with. 

Let’s imagine you don’t fall into this trap, because you are too wise and all-knowing, and decide instead to join a society. This is your chance to express a self that you had to hide from your no good, already outgrown, childhood friends. You attend an introductory session, meet lots of people. Worryingly, the people you find may not be miracles born twenty years ago with the purpose of being the best friend you could ask for, but are actually just people, and therefore a bit of a let-down. You leave with a horrible feeling that if you cannot find ‘your people’ here you will be unable to find friendship while at university. This is simply untrue. 

When we arrive at university, we put so much pressure on ourselves to find ‘our people’ but maybe the aim should be to just find people. It would be setting yourself up for disappointment to think you could find someone who understands you in your entirety during freshers. Moreover, you can have all different types of friends. A friend can be someone you see exclusively in class, or once a week at a society meeting. Or maybe you live in each other’s skin, what do I know? Certainly, you should put yourself out there, join clubs, hang about the flat kitchen, but I implore you to not put too much pressure on yourself, to take your time. As you walk around the hallowed halls of the university, take care, a friend could be lurking round any corner. 

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