Before heading to university, you might have made a devout promise to keep in touch with every single one of your friends; committing to speaking to them every day, updating them on everything uni life throws at you, and visiting them at least once a week. By the time the end of the first semester rolls around you might realise that none of this actually happened. So, what’s the deal with keeping up friendships from before uni – is it an impossible task or do we just need to manage our expectations?
Let’s start with this; there is no doubt that the friends we make at school or college can be friends for life. But at uni you are almost definitely going to form some awesome new friendships too, because you will be spending so much time with these people, living with them and having unique life experiences together. You will also be changing and growing yourself and you may come to realise that you have outgrown some of the friendships you used to have.
But what about the friendships you really value and want to continue building? How do you continue to build them? Firstly, realise that it will require effort. To keep up good friendships you must really invest in them. You are going to be very busy, so keeping in contact with friends who are equally busy will be tricky. Making opportunities to spend quality time with friends will help. Having a set time which you both try and protect and prioritise as much as possible is a great start – this might be a weekly skype call, or WhatsApp-ing each other during your favourite TV show. It is also a good idea to plan in time where you can visit each other, to meet each other’s new friends and check out their new city.
As much fun as it will be to stay connected with old friends, balance this with realistic expectations. Investing in maintaining pre-uni friendships does not mean that you cannot make new friends too. Join some societies or sports teams to meet people with similar interests, and say yes to invites to coffee from course mates. You might find that you have more in common with the person you thought you were least likely to, so be open to connecting with others.
The main reason it is important to be investing in friendships is simple; it’s always good to have someone to lean on, someone to talk to, someone who knows you deeply and will help you grow. These friends can be the most important people in your life. Building this kind of friendship is something that Jesus modeled with his disciples. He spent time with them, they knew each other almost as well as family and they were very committed to each other (possibly with one exception…). But these relationships didn’t just happen – they were built and chiseled and grown over years and through shared experience.
Rob is a Regional Development Worker for the Midlands, and he takes a lead on the SCM Connect Project. A former student, Youth Worker and musician, he’s a big fan of community (the concept and the US sitcom).