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By Missy LaPlace, Alumna of Louisiana State University
When I first got into college, I pretty much stuck with all my friends from high school that had gone there with me. The only “new” friends I really had were the ones who had gone to the rival high school in the same town.
Everyone knew everyone’s history, their childhood and all their past mistakes and as a freshman, that was fine, but two majors later, it was a different story. I felt like there was an entire city full of people I didn’t know and wasn’t trying to get to know. I had been desperately holding on to my hometown because I was too afraid to try something new.
So what did I do? I went 110 percent in the other direction. I shared a house with a few of my old friends so I continued to see them as usual, but I started branching out on the weekends. I’d go to parties with people from class that I had known for two years but never tried to hang out with. My social circle doubled, tripled, quadrupled in size and I was on top of the world.
Guys I didn’t know before started paying attention to me and everyone thought I was hilarious and fun. Most of my high school friends didn’t act so in awe of me anymore and these new friends practically worshiped me — or so I thought. My new friends had themed events and crazy parties and my other friends were still having the same old house party at the house I lived in. After four years, I had gotten tired of going to the same party over and over again. My new friends went out to a bar one night, a new house the next night and then followed it all up with some trendy restaurant.
Before long, I was bailing on my other friends. One night, my best friend came in town to see me in a play and afterward she wanted to go out to celebrate. I was so obsessed with my new-found exciting night life that I went to a party with the cast instead. I didn’t even invite her along or offer to meet up with her later. I still regret that to this day.
As time went on, my high school crowd stopped telling me about get-togethers. They assumed that since I had declined their invites so many times that I wasn’t interested in their “boring” parties anymore. I started to get angry with them, even though it was really my fault to begin with.
I detached myself from the group and sort of stopped talking to them all together. I became completely dependent on my new college friends and went to whatever event I was invited to. I blew through a lot of money going to restaurants and bars I couldn’t afford just trying to keep up with them.
Eventually, I graduated. I took an extra semester to do it, so I was gone by the middle of the school year instead of the summer like most everyone else. Those new friends I had counted on were still in school or had already moved on months before. They were still living the same life, but since we weren’t seeing each other daily in classes, they forgot about me. Most of them stopped calling and no one was impressed with how funny I thought I was. When I showed up at parties, I felt lame and like I didn’t belong. They were all gossiping about people I didn’t know or talking about some new show they were working on that I didn’t have any part in. I felt really alone and disappointed with myself for thinking these people were my true friends.
That’s how I learned the difference between friends and colleagues. The friends I made in college were people who were majoring in the same thing I was. We all had a passion and excitement for the same thing and I got swept up in it. All of them are very talented, creative and great to work with, but I couldn’t count on most of them beyond that. Unless we were working on something together, we didn’t keep up with each other. I found that even when we were hanging out together, we mostly talked about whatever we were currently working on.
By the time I realized my mistake, it was actually too little, too late for a lot of my old friends. Some of them accepted my apology and we tried to make it work for a while, but eventually they went back to their lives without me.
It’s taken a lot of work, but I have managed to hang onto a few real friendships. I took the time to really explain what I was going through and the ones that wanted to stick around listened and understood.
I still keep in touch with my friends from college and we definitely help each other out when we can, but I don’t go to them about personal stuff anymore. It was definitely hard to learn to make that distinction, but I think everyone can get wrapped up in something from time to time. Luckily for me, those friends that I once forgot about understand what I was going through.