Entity advises on how friendships can change in college.

You’ve dreamed about college for years. You imagine the cute seniors you’d meet, the roommates who would become your best friends and even the classes that would lead to your perfect major. One part of college you might not be dreaming about? How your friendships back home will be affected by your new zip code and school colors.

You’ve probably heard that distance is one of the most significant factors in maintaining friendships. As a woman who attended a university almost 3000 miles away from home, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to worrying that the distance would push my friends and I apart. Sure, you can stay in touch with friends over Skype, FaceTime, texting, phone calls or emails. But “hanging out” over a Skype call isn’t the same as driving to your favorite local burrito shop at 11 o’clock every Tuesday night.

In fact, that spark of social connection seems to disappear just as much as home from your rear-view mirror. At least, that’s how it seemed to me. Calling my friends didn’t give me the same satisfaction as being actually surrounded by them. Could our friendship really handle the distance?

Making new friends at college and growing as a person as a result only made my worries worse. After leaving the friends I made in high school, college challenged me to bond with people who were, simply put, different. When you meet people from all over the country – or even from all over the world – you experience alternative views, personalities and interests not found in your high school or local community.

But one of the most staggering opportunities in college is the unique ability to recreate yourself. When you enter a space filled with strangers, you can leave your past in high school yearbooks and change things about yourself that you don’t like. I, for example, wanted to ditch my judgement high school self and be more outgoing and friendly to people I met.

While the “new you” is the only person your new college friends has ever known, your friends back home will certainly notice that you’ve changed. Can you keep the same friends when you aren’t even the same person? That’s one question I found out for myself when I first returned from college.

After undertaking my personality upgrade, I discovered that critiquing the lives of men and women with whom I had gone to high school wasn’t as fun for me as it was for my friends. I wanted to continue our friendship from where we left off that last summer but it wasn’t that easy now that I had changed. They changed too. Despite our separation during my time in college, we all matured. However, it seemed as though our friendships now missed the key component that once sustained them.

If you find yourself in this situation, just remember the old saying: If there’s a will, there’s a way. If your friends love you as much as you love them and if you all share a strong commitment to your relationships, you’ll find new methods to strengthen your bonds. But after the long-awaited reunion, if you find that you’re completely incompatible with your friends after college – even after spending time talking it out – it’s fine to let go. Life is about moving forward, learning and changing along the way.

You may be wondering what happened to my friends and I. After spending time with them, it was hard to ignore how we had evolved in the time away. But the changes and the clashing new personalities didn’t necessarily kill our friendships. Our bonds have survived the tests of time, distance and differences and the love we have for each other encourages us to work even harder to sustain these relationships. As long as we care about these friendships, we’ll be friends for years to come.

When your friendship isn’t healthy, try to remember how it began. What led you to become friends with them in the first place? What did you see in them? I know you may have changed significantly since these times but looking back at the start and comparing your feelings about your friends then and now can help you find the core of your relationship. If that core isn’t accurate or alive today, then maybe letting go is the best choice. Welcome the change – your friendships will benefit in the long run.

Edited by Casey Cromwell

Send this to a friend