It’s September, and that means new classes, new supplies, and…new people. Forging friendships is one of the best parts of life. Yet in the flurry of frosh week and in the desperation to make any allies in a large lecture hall, you may wind up with people who just won’t make it past the first midterm. So what to do?
Know Your Values and Don’t “Edit” Your Personality
A good strategy for entering any unfamiliar place is knowing who you are and who you aren’t. Sure, we’re all works in progress, but there are interests you have, values you hold dear, and things you will not compromise on like your family, your health, your time, and your self-respect. Don’t edit your personality in order to be more palatable to everyone you meet. But on that note…
Have an Open Mind
You can be true to yourself and also be receptive to different personalities and new ideas. Going to a new college or university or simply beginning a new year means you will be exposed to a variety of people with a range of experiences and world views. Some of the strongest relationships are formed by people who differ a lot at the surface level (and yes, your “hard core” political opinions are not that deep) but are similar when it comes to their values like integrity, hard work, and respect. Be willing to engage in constructive conversations and hear people out when they say something that diverges from your point of view.
Don’t Make Time For Time Wasters
People will only give you as much shit as you allow them to. Stop forgiving flakes and quit extending invitations to people who can’t be bothered. Shit happens, but when people cancel make it clear that you were looking forward to your plans and are disappointed. One of two things happen:
1. people start respecting your time, OR
2. you weed out those who weren’t worth your time in the first place
Stop Being So Afraid To Look Stupid
This Toronto attitude of “he or she who cares the least is the coolest” has made no one happy. Instead, it’s led to angsty social media posts and a generation of lonely people. Make plans. Risk the fact that no one will show up. Let them know how awful you felt when they couldn’t keep plans. Life’s too short to make decisions out of fear of embarrassment or rejection.
Respect Boundaries (That Includes Yours)
The kind of friendships where you can borrow money or invest a lot of energy into helping someone through a tough situation are built over time. If a new friend is making unfair demands on your time, money, and emotional energy very early into meeting you, be careful not to get stuck in an asymmetrical friendship or worse, become co-dependent.
Recognize That Friendships are Work
Somewhere along the line we became convinced that friendship is something that happens spontaneously (you fight a troll together in a bathroom, you share detention with a bunch of other misfits) and that magically sustains itself forever and ever. And if it doesn’t sustain itself? Poof! It wasn’t meant to be.
This is so far from the truth. Relationships take work. There isn’t always a party to go to. Sometimes being a friend means grabbing a coffee, putting your phone away, and listening when the person tells you what’s up. It also means honouring plans when something better comes up. There’s “busy” and then there’s “I don’t care to make the time for you”.
Friendships don’t have to be 0 or 100. It’s not a choice between “seeing each other every day” or “lol I’ll let you know if I can make it…might be working”. Create a life for yourself outside of others, and then make the time to share it with people who will hopefully become some solid ass friends.