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A love letter to my friends

| Monday, February 23, 2015

Some students call their professors their friends. I call my friends my professors.

I don’t call them Professor Monika or Professor Steve to their faces. Most of them don’t even know they are my professors. They don’t realize our hangouts are classes and our lunch dates lab periods. This is because I hide my notes.

You see, I am ashamed of how much I have to learn about being a good friend. Throughout high school, I spent my time learning how to write five-paragraph essays and how to kick a ball in a net. I did not necessarily succeed; I preferred sassy poems to prose and cartwheels to dribbling.

But I tried. I spent time trying to write like a machine to please the College Board. I spent time copying Amanda Bynes’ fancy footwork in “She’s the Man” to score goals. I did not recommend this training plan to many friends, not because Bynes lacks skill, but because I did not have many friends.

In high school, I did not spend time making friends. In my subconscious cost-benefit analysis of how Erin should spend every moment, there were no points given for friendship. My time spent during lunch could be time spent finishing my calc homework. If I finished it then, I could leave my heavy book at school and save my back from carrying an unnecessary load. Why would I eat lunch with friends when friends themselves are unnecessary loads? They always text you when you want to sleep and want to hang out on your one day off. What do you accomplish during trips to the mall anyways?

Friendship. You accomplish friendship. Sadly, I failed to recognize this. Though I managed to find one best friend I found it “worthwhile” to spend time with in high school, I let myself sink into an abyss of antisocial achievement for the most part. Every minute was a productive one. I was choreographing my senior solo. I was studying for the extra SAT II I did not need to take. I was successful. I was lost.

Fast forward to Notre Dame where I realized I liked people. Yes, these were people, and I liked them. I liked them more than homework. What. I found myself tempted to hang out with friends rather than read. I liked these people more than fictional characters. Woah.

My new friends were good people. They were interesting people. They were people I could learn from, but most importantly, they were people who showed me that learning was not as important as love.

These people let me borrow books full of Buddhist wisdom. They let me borrow the shoes they were going to wear. They let me eat their apples and don’t ask for them back. They let me drag them to sit in the front of the classroom. (I am still a nerd).

These people don’t get mad when I’m late (again). They give me their handwarmers at the football game. Later, they give me a back massage.

These friends give up their Sunday afternoons to be my Confirmation sponsor. They make time for South Quad hugs even when they’re late to class. They even hold my hands when they’re cold in Mass.

These friends let me borrow their stapler for the umpteenth time. They don’t laugh when I eat steamed carrots with my hands and peeled lemon slices whole. They don’t judge my love of drinking plain hot water. Or they judge me, but they’re still my friends.

These friends read my articles even when they don’t have time. They come to my dance shows when I’m in it for a total of four minutes and 23 seconds. They accept my constant need to pee.

These friends listen to me ramble about unimportant details of my life. They’re quiet at night when I go to sleep early like a grandma. They accept my obsession with the downward dog.

These friends are teaching me to be a good friend, to love and care for others. I am far from there, but I am learning. The student in me is happy: I still get to learn. The human in me is happy, too: Now, I get to love.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Erin Thomassen

I am a freshman double majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and French. PLS (aka the Notre Dame Book Club) is the history of ideas through literature, philosophy, math and science. It was the perfect major for me, because I couldn't possibly choose one subject and hurt the other subjects' feelings. French was also a natural pick, since I have been prancing around my house under the pretense of performing ballet for eighteen years. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I will tell them that I run and read. What I actually do is eat cartons of strawberries and knit lumpy scarves. If you give me fresh fruit, we will be friends. If we become friends, I will knit you a scarf for Christmas. It may be lumpy, but it will be in your favorite color. And if enough people become my friend, lumpy scarves might just become a trend.

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