Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Conflict of College

College is coming. For those of you like me who are preparing for the big leave, it's safe to say that we are all feeling a little weird about it. Moving away. Meeting new people. Living on our own. As I was told very many times, it's natural to feel a little anxious. But what probably freaks us out the most is that a majority of our friends won't be coming with us. We're dispersing to different colleges, scattered by the four winds. We're afraid we may never see each other again.

I will miss my friends. The people who over the years I've become close to, who shared my experiences and who I've come to rely on and care very much about. You know who you are.

Conversely, I am excited about going off to college. There's new people to meet, new things to do, and new memories to be made. That's the promise of college; the chance to strike out on our own, to make our mark, and to try something totally and completely new.

So we feel conflicted. We can't wait to move in, meet our dorm mates, and make new friends. But, at the same time, we don't want to leave our old. I'm sure that if we could, we'd find a way to smuggle them in with us.

Just because we won't see each other as often, it doesn't mean that our friendships have to end. We've all heard that it's our college friends that become lifelong friends and I'm not denying that. In fact, I very much hope that I will meet people in college who will be lifelong friends. However, the people in our lives now, from our time in high school, are no less important.

These friends have helped us define ourselves for the past four years. We don't ever want to forget them. And we don't have to. It may be hard, but coordinating weekends home has been made much simpler with the advent of networking sites. All we need to do is hop on Facebook, leave a message on their wall, and write down the dates in our planners. It'll require an effort on our parts, but it validates the relationship when we make an effort to maintain contact.

Since we're on the topic of new people, I was down at Bobcat Student Orientation on August 5, and just about everybody that I met there I regard as a potential friend. And I'm sure it's not just OU that has such a friendly campus. Making friends, well, it all comes down to you, really. You have to take that chance to come out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself. May I suggest a simple, "Hello, I'm (insert name) from (insert hometown). I'm studying (insert major). Where are you from?" I mean, people love to talk about themselves and it's one of the best conversation starters, especially at orientation.

At orientation, the advisors talked about diversity, and not just diversity of race or culture, but the diversity of experience. And I have to say, they are right. Though everybody I talked to may have had a few similar experiences as I did, everybody had a different story to tell. Listen to those stories and share your own. I was fascinated by the tales people told. And it's always great to find someone from the same area as yourself.

Finally, I want to emphasize, or rather encourage, that you don't hold yourself back from trying out new things, whether it be a sport, a club, a class, or a friendship. We will miss what we had, but don't let that keep you from living life. Meet new friends, but stay in touch with the old. Maybe someday you can even introduce them.

And to my own friends: I will miss you all dearly, but I am in no doubt, whatsoever, that we will see each other again. Peace.

P.S. The above Chinese character is "friend." Or so Google tells me. Who knows, maybe it means "ass." Well, I tried, but I thought it was fitting.

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