College is a horrible place to meet people. I mean, yes, at college you’re surrounded by thousands of peers all living under similar circumstances and with similar goals in a way you never will be ever again and all, but still. The sort of relationships with other people that colleges foster are peculiar.
Some people you meet become your dearest friends whose bond will outlast your time at your institution–I’ve found quite a few of them, and I love them–but that only covers a small collection of people. What the hell are you supposed to do with the rest?
There are a ton of people on campus that I could be friends with, but I’m not yet. Some I see around or campus or share a class with, but haven’t made the leap to actually hanging out. Others I know through mutual friends, but again, I settle for running into them by chance rather than taking steps to solidify a friendship. Some are underclassmen, who won’t see me for an entire semester when I’m abroad. Some are seniors, who might not see me again.
It all seems like a crapshoot: a ton of the seniors I didn’t get to know better to avoid our inevitable estrangement come graduation have remained accessible and present in my life (let alone the lives of their closer friends). Some of the people I’ve gotten to know turn out have turned out to be less than pleasant the more I’ve learned about them (and both parties would have been better off had they remained in polite obscurity).
How do you determine who to spend time getting to know? How do you determine when to risk emotional turmoil for a friendship that may only ever be temporary?
For a long time here, the fear of hurt kept me from taking that risk. I refused to do the work of getting to know people I was convinced wouldn’t stay in my life, and thought avoiding the goodbye was worth the absence of a connection with someone else. But I’ve watched too many senior classes graduate and linger on through Facebook and chance meetings in the city, seen too many juniors return from abroad and slip seamlessly back into old friendships, met too many people that I simply enjoy spending time with too much to worry about how much time we’ll get to keep doing that. If given the choice between a temporary friendship (and all the joy that comes with it) or a preemptive ignorance (however it might protect me from future pain), I’ll take the friendship every time.