I think we can all agree that there is nothing more convenient in college than being able to walk a few steps across the hall to visit your friends in their dorm room. And if you go to a small college like I did, chances are you bump into them on campus all the time and maybe even had a few classes with them if you were lucky. And if you’re REALLY lucky, maybe your best friends are or were your roommates, and in that case you definitely didn’t have to go far to see them (you just shout at each other from your beds like the lazy SOBs you are). Basically, no matter what, your friends were close by and always there, whenever you needed them.
Truth be told, I definitely took this for granted when I was in college. And now, five years post grad, I would give anything to be able to leave out my door, walk like five steps to the left and just barge in my friend’s room without so much as a curtesy knock or an “Are you decent?!” heads up. You see, for me, college was so much more than academia. It was cheering your friends on at sports games (even if they were just intramural sports); it was starting prank wars on your neighbors (and them retaliating even harder); and it was getting dressed up for a campus party and not having any idea what the night had in store (…or who it had in store 😉). And most of all, it was meeting and building lifelong friendships with amazing people—some of whom will even be my bridesmaids in my wedding.
And then you graduate, and you are terrified about starting on your own in a different place where you have to make new friends and can only visit your old college ones on weekends. Granted, there is definitely something exciting about developing outside friendships with new coworkers, and I genuinely believe you can never have too many friends in this life…but, at the end of the day, nothing beats the sense of comfort you have when you’re around the people who feel like home.
Now there are the select few like me who get really, really lucky, and have all their college friends (or at least the best ones) end up in the same location as them after graduation. If that is now or ends up being you in the future: we are blessed as hell, and don’t forget it. I myself have been fortunate enough to have all five of my best ladies live close by me in the city (the furthest being 30 mins and the closest being a whopping three whole minutes). This lets me spend time with my girls whenever I want, and I can’t imagine my life any other way.
As of late though, it’s been settling in that things are going to change soon, and our paths may start to take us further away from each other. We are all getting older and entering the phase of our lives where weddings are happening and dogs are being adopted and house hunting is in progress. And pretty soon families will be started, and some of us have even talked about relocating elsewhere and moving away from New England. So the notion that I won’t always be a quick drive from my friends is becoming less of a notion and more of an eventual, somewhat painful, reality.
Honestly, I think it’s just easier to live in denial about it sometimes. I know my high school best friend refuses to accept the idea of me taking our decade-long friendship and turning it into a long distance one down in the Carolinas. And while I remind her every day that it won’t be happening for a while, it still doesn’t make it any easier to come to terms with that potential change. Because the reality is that change is hard, and it’s uncomfortable, and when you’ve had something one way for over ten years, you just expect it to stay that way forever. But unfortunately, more often than not, it just doesn’t work that way.
So what do you? How do you handle it? Well, I think that’s a two part answer:
1. Instead of worrying about the eventual, inevitable changes life will bring you, just enjoy the moments you have right now when you have them, while your friends are here and together. Stop focusing so much on growing up and what’s to come, and instead be present in the moments that matter. Take lots of pictures (or just mental images if that’s more your thing) and try to capture and remember the days and nights when the people you love are by your side and all together. Because trust me: as you get older and adult obligations set in, matching schedules gets harder and those days and nights become less and less frequent.
Which leads me to #2:
2. Always, always make time for your friends. Go the extra mile to be there for them on birthdays and important life events; say yes to their spontaneous invitations for brunch or after-work drinks; even say yes to last minute trips to Vegas when their significant other can’t go (true story). Create those lasting memories because you don’t know when you’ll lose the ability to make them as often.
If I could go back in time, I would relive so many of life’s moments. Which is not to say that the current phase of my life isn’t just as fun (cause it is), but I’m definitely still allowed to miss pregaming and dressing up for themed campus events with my college friends, or going to out to the bars in Boston as a group of single hot females. Regardless of what’s to come, those will always be some of the best days of my life…no matter how much of a hot mess we all were at 2am when the lights came on.