“Will we still be friends after college?”
This question has constantly been asked by different friend groups over the past few weeks. No matter if it’s with engineers, humanists, coworkers or even club members — everyone is afraid of what comes after we say goodbye to the only thing that physically ties us together.
As a fifth year, I’ve had the opportunity to see a good half of my friends graduate last year. I’ve watched as I slowly lost contact with each of them and they with one another. Many of them floundered about, writing on one another’s Facebook wall in an attempt to close the gap that physical distance had brought. However, slowly everyone realized that it’s not that we didn’t want to be friends, it’s just that we moved on in our lives and got caught up with other things. Your physical location helps define who you stay in contact with and who you don’t. So, my answer to the question that has been on so many people’s minds is:
“No, I doubt we’ll still be friends…at least the way we are now.”
And that’s the catch. We’ll still be friends. The time we had at UCI will not be erased and I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for every person I met here. But we simply won’t be friends the way we are now.
For example, the times we get to talk will be probably once a week or once a month. I currently have two friends who graduated last year who are in two different countries. One is in Helsinki, Finland; the other is in Saga Prefecture in Japan. We are all awake at only three different times during the day and we are only able to talk once a month—and even then it’s hard to keep those Skype dates without pushing them back a week or two.
What we do when we meet up will also probably change. Now, in college, when you see a friend you can just get lunch with them or shoot the breeze for a while. Out of college, meeting up like that or running into each other happens much less often and instead you plan trips or have elaborate Saturday nights. Some of my older friends will occasionally get together every couple of weeks and go to places like a karaoke bar, go pub crawling or even rent a hotel room and have a night out on the town. I have a weekend cruise planned next year, two weekend trips to Vegas and possibly a weekend trip to SF planned in the upcoming months. The time spent with friends is much shorter and maybe not everyone will be able to make it because of work or other commitments.
What you talk about will change drastically. By meeting sporadically and always having something big going on, you will find that you don’t have too much time to talk about the smaller things with people. When you ask “what have you been up to,” you’ll only get a cursory explanation of maybe a few dates they’ve been on, maybe a few things at work and maybe the occasional life event. You don’t get the day-to-day play-by-play that you get in college. For most people this is disheartening. It will feel like you aren’t important or a part of your friends’ lives anymore. And unfortunately, to tell you the truth, you aren’t.
But as I said before, this doesn’t mean that you’re not friends. Your friendship has just changed. Their social center has shifted to where they work and live now. Most people they knew in college will find themselves on the fringe of that circle. But the same goes for you. Your social life will change and you’ll meet new people and find yourself talking less and less to college friends. You’ll keep in contact with a select few of them, but most of them will drop from your immediate radar.
Yet, knowing this, even I get sad at the prospect of losing friends. The people I met here have been amazing and I would be sad to lose them. So knowing this, I plan on changing the natural order of things to my favor: instead of just letting them fade away, I will try to go out with friends at least once every three months. I will write letters, have phone calls, or Skype friends who are too far to meet up with at least once a month. Friendships may still disappear and it may end up being a wasted effort, but for the friends I’ve met at UCI, I wouldn’t want to do anything less.