I didn’t have much trouble making and maintaining friendships in college. The structure of a university — especially one where most people live on campus — forces people together. Without even trying to, I spent nearly all of my time with friends: in class, in chapel, at Midnight Oil, at The Bison office for 3 a.m. deadline crashes. I didn’t have to plan my social life or work to keep it healthy; if anything, I needed to plan in time for myself, away from friends.
Two years post-grad, I’m realizing what a luxury it was to be in a place where friendship happened so effortlessly. I still have a few incidental relationships. I’m lucky enough to be extremely close with my coworkers, and I have a great roommate. But for the most part, I only see the people I make plans to see.
Here’s the thing: it took me about a year and a half to understand that shift in my social order. I spent a lot of time being lonely because I was waiting for people to make plans with me. It seems obvious — but I wish someone had told me before I graduated that I needed to work to make and maintain friendships.
I don’t want to scare you. Friendships after college are harder, definitely — but they’re also richer, more beautiful,
more intentional. I don’t hang out with people because I ran into them at Midnight Oil; I hang out with them because I’ve made spending time with them a priority.
Of course, even two years out, I haven’t learned to manage this perfectly. There are people I love dearly that I don’t see or even talk to very often. It’s one thing to love someone; it’s another thing to actively prioritize them. As I’m sure several of my friends can tell you, I’m still learning.
But the ones I’m getting right — the friendships I’m investing in and working on — are some of the most rewarding relationships of my life so far. There’s something beautiful about driving half an hour once or twice a week to see people you love, or calling an out-of-state friend once a week. There’s something beautiful about choosing people and being chosen in return.
So here are my two cents, for what they’re worth: cherish this time of effortless friendships, but get ready to prioritize the ones you care about. Like any good thing, a solid friendship is hard work — but it’s worth working for.