The Vanderbilt Hustler

First-Year Focus: Seeking Friendship

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First-Year Focus: Seeking Friendship

Rachel Wei

With second semester officially upon us, I think most first-years would say they’re pretty comfortably settled in at this point. We’ve finally learned where Wilson Hall is, feel like we’re real Vandy students when tour groups pass us, and are now starting to aggressively use our meal money to get a break from campus food. However, one main thing seems to have become less settled as time has passed—friendship.

There are certainly those who feel like they met their best friends here during orientation week and are still close with them today. But, for a good number of first-years, time has brought a confusing dilemma upon us. We have begun to question whether the friends we made first semester, especially those we met early on, are truly the lifelong friends we thought they would be.

I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting that people were superficial or dishonest while making friends in the beginning of the school year; I’m merely commenting on the widespread phenomenon that many students go through at the end of their first year, and/or in their transition to living on main campus as a sophomore. Ever since orientation week, I’ve heard upperclassmen lament about not thinking more deeply about who they actually wanted to be friends with moving forward. With housing registration upon us, I think it has dawned on many first-years that we are not quite sure who are our true friends. Doubts surface regarding whether or not we are friends with someone purely out of convenience (i.e. living on the same floor), or whether there’s a real connection there. Some friends turn out to be less pleasant people than we once thought. Especially as we consider who we want to room with next year, the question of who we want to continue being close friends with is a pressing matter.

Even after rooming situations are arrnaged, this quest for true friendship doesn’t end, according to many upperclassmen. Feeling isolated on main campus with many friends scattered all campus feels like a second move in for many sophomores. Now, for those reading who are still besties with their initial friends, congrats! For those who are currently going through this friendship identity crisis, you’re certainly not alone.

I think the struggle of navigating friendship in college is an important issue to bring up not to scare people, but as a reminder that consciously deciding who you want to spend your time with is important and necessary. Throughout life, this question of “Who are my true friends?” is not going to go away. In fact, it may increase in importance as we often become like those we surround ourselves with.

To start evaluating our current friendships now is the proactive move to counter the feeling of isolation and loneliness that many sophomores experience when they find out the majority of their friends were people they hung out with only because they were right next door, or up a floor. I’m not saying that these friendships are wrong or fake; if you and your best friend just happen to live on the same floor, that’s amazing. Unfortunately, for many these friendships are not particularly long lasting.

As we begin the housing process, I encourage you to consider your friendships carefully, not to criticize and emphasize your friends’ flaws, but to think about what you want in a friend. What qualities and values do you want them to possess? Do your current friends reflect you, and who you want to be? Fluctuating friend groups and new friendships can be scary, and you might feel silly trying to make new friends when we’re already in second semester. But, this is just another part of the college journey that we are more than able to take on. We shouldn’t be afraid of change, because that is often how we grow the most. It’s ok to let go of friendships that aren’t beneficial and to seek out new, more fulfilling ones. Change is always going to be a part of life, so we might as well become comfortable with it.

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