Opinions, Column

Never Stop Making Connections

At the end of the first month of my freshman year, a phenomenon occurred that I remember quite clearly. It felt as if friend groups had become solidified.

The period for introductions and small talk with strangers in the dining hall had passed. There were posts on Instagram of big groups at parties that said “squad” and “crew,” and pairs of girls who were already “best friends.” Just over a month into our first semester, there was talk of 8-man groups forming for next year. It all left me wondering if I was doing something wrong, and led me to try to force myself into a group of friends that I knew deep down were not the people I was meant to be friends with.

Looking back, I know that this was a harmful and limiting viewpoint, but at the time, I wondered if I was making strong enough connections with the people around me. I still didn’t feel like anyone at school was my best friend. Was I doing something wrong?

To all the freshmen, I encourage you not to fall into this trap. In all the time you are at Boston College, never, ever stop trying to make friends. Never stop branching out.

Always be open to new people and to opportunities to meet new people. Some of the best friendships may not come into your life until next semester, next year, or your time abroad. Undoubtedly, you will lose friends here and you will gain friends. You will grow apart from some people and grow closer to others. This is normal and healthy and will be true not just of college, but of life.

The most friends I made outside of my floor as a freshman came from joining clubs. Clubs open the door to great groups of people who can grow into your friends. The opportunity to connect with upperclassmen is an additional perk. Older friends I met through my clubs were always able and willing to offer me great advice on everything from professors to making the most of college. Their encouragement was uplifting, and their advice has often rung quite true. Upperclassmen can be valuable resources, and they are most easily accessed by joining clubs that pique your interest.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to try a club or activity you wouldn’t have tried in high school. Hidden talents and passions have the potential to grow and evolve into opportunities for majors and minors, awards, or careers. If something sparks your interest, give it a try. Best of all is the ability to meet people who have the same interest as you, but who may seem to be very different from you in other ways. These can be eye-opening friendships that remind us how connected we all are despite our perceived differences. Branching out to try new clubs will pull you into new circles and make possible great friendships that could never have been found on your floor or in your dorm building.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the freshman class is one of the most separated because of its two campuses. There is an entire 40 or 60 percent of the class that you may not come into contact with until sophomore year. When you do meet people from the other campus in class or in a club, it can be easy to decide not to try to form a friendship, since they live so far away and keeping up with them next semester would require too much effort. But friendship isn’t a game of strategy the way it sometimes feels in college. In my freshman Perspectives class, I was able to meet and bond with people that lived on Newton with whom I am still close today. If you feel the potential for friendship, don’t allow that bus ride to make or break it. They just may live two doors down sophomore year.

In my case, friends who lived on Newton ended up eventually connecting me with my boyfriend. These connections often happen for reasons we don’t expect, and I was lucky to see many relationships grow out of what started as one conversation in the hallway before Perspectives. The most important thing to keep in mind is that being open-minded and open-hearted will never hurt you, but closing yourself off to forming new connections and exploring new sides of yourself absolutely can.

It can be easy to fall into the belief that with the end of the first month at school comes the end of your window to meet and connect with new people, join new clubs, or find potential future roommates. This misconception could not be farther from the truth that I came to learn. In fact, finding two girls at random for my sophomore 8-man began as a stressful leap of faith but became a blessing in disguise. These two random roommates became two of my very best friends at school. They have inspired me, comforted me, and made me laugh until my stomach hurt.

For the constant opportunity to connect with new people, I am forever grateful. Your best friend could be at that club meeting tonight that you just don’t know if you should bother attending. Your future suitemate may be the person with you in the elevator, and it is your choice whether to strike up a conversation. Countless times each day, you have the opportunity to connect with the people around you, and that is an awesome, amazing gift not to be taken for granted.

Featured Image by Chris Fuller / Heights Editor

September 21, 2016