My lifelong friends
Elizabeth Greason | Monday, April 18, 2016
I had always heard people talk about the lifelong friends they made in college, far more commonly than lifelong high school or even childhood friends, but I never completely understood it. It did not make sense to me that a friendship fostered during a different stage of life or education would be more likely to last. But, over the course of my first few months at Notre Dame, it has become more clear to me why many people consider this the case.
College strips you of your support systems and forces you to build your own from scratch. I, for one, felt as though someone had thrown me into a blender and turned it on when I first arrived on campus, being tossed from place to place and from person to person. Over the course of my first few months of college, I have been forced into situations in which I have had to rely on people more than I ever could have felt comfortable with in the past. And relying on people is certainly not my strong suit. But, in November, I sustained a concussion that made it nearly impossible for me to walk between classes unaided or read the words on the page in front of me. In the blink of an eye, I became incapable of functioning on a very basic level and was forced to turn to those around me, my friends, for help with the simplest aspects of my life. I was forced to succumb to being vulnerable and to let the people who I lived with and spent time with, and yet, barely knew, become my caretakers.
What I think makes the friendships forged in college special, at least from a freshman’s perspective, is that the college environment does not exactly lend itself to building relationships based on trust. You are thrust into a group of strangers and expected to become friends, or at least friendly, immediately. You have to let the trust and respect that made up the foundations of past friendships come later on, which can put you in a very uneasy and scary position.
I have seen firsthand that being forced to be vulnerable and to rely on people can create a friendship stronger then I had previously thought possible. Having my friends walk me between classes while I was concussed not only showed me that I was surrounded by incredibly nice and caring people, but that I had chosen to surround myself with people who I could trust.
I am not saying that relationships I have and will make during my time here are any more valuable than those I have made in the past. They’re simply different. They serve different purposes and are created in different ways. I believe that the friends I make here will be my lifelong friends because we serve as each other’s support systems due to the trust we are forced to place in each other, even if it seems too soon to do so.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.