Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Friendships II: The college years

It is purely my opinion that the linking years between ones childhood/ early teen years and adulthood are the college years. And that these are distinct from what lies on either side. By this point of joiing college we have more than an inkling about how relationships are formed. We have been trying, with any luck, to convert our parents into our friends. We are learning, sometimes the hard way, about who our friends are, what it is to be loyal and dependable person, where the line crosses over from nice to nasty, what pettiness and greed can do and which of our inherent skills in the field of making and keeping friends will stand the test of time. And while we think we know all this it will surely be tested in college, when we discover that actually we know nothing, of life of friendships. We are yearning to become our own person, to break the shackles of dependence on our parents and siblings, while yet holding them close, for comfort in times of need. We are on the threshold (to put it vaguely poetically) of wanting the best of being independent and dependent, where our own choices must matter more than any others.

And then comes college, that zenith of what it means to be a grown up, a nearly adult. We’ve made that first choice about what to study and now, with only the gravity of a young person, can expound on how this will help us reach our career goals. This is a question oft asked - “beta, what are you going to do after class XII?”, to which you resist rolling your eyes and explain v e r y s l o w l y that you are going to study X at Y and then go on to rule the world/ become the CEO of your destiny/ get married and have a bakers dozen of children.

Once through that admission process it actual collegetime and a whole new gamut of people and fashion statements to pick and choose from. Some people may have been classmates in school but depending on how far you venture from home and how specialized your studies get this becomes a progressively smaller list. For some their whole school clique is on the same campus or at least the same U-special bus. For others they are far away from home, in a hostel (possibly for the first time) with not a familiar face for miles. Either ways there is a degree of ragging to be endured, new friendships to be sought and a degree of peaceful relations to be forged with seniors.

Over the 3 to 5 college years cliques will be formed, multiple movies watched, numerous cups of tea and coffee consumed, pocket money evaporation pondered over, cheap meals hunted down, culinary expertise in making Maggie over a hotplate mastered, study notes shared, parties organised and attended, mess food complained about, jokes about professors cracked, alcohol imbibed, day trips and getaways planned, boyfriends/ girlfriends found, rumours started, all-nighter study groups pulled, exams taken, birthdays celebrated, jokes shared, tears shared and confidences built, kept and lost. The years go by in slow motion and fast forward all at once. You join with some trepidation about what the years will bring and before you know it you are full-fledged adult making life choices like you’ve been making them, well, all your life.

On the flip side you learn about nastiness, pettiness and the world of the ‘popular’ more forcefully than ever before. Traits that are a mirror reflection of the real world sadly. You will live on one or the other side of that line and with any luck you will learn compassion and leave behind shallow thoughts like ‘we should be friends because your dad is…./ or you have a big house…/ money….’.

By the time you need to step into the big bad world, with luck you will have formed deep, enduring bonds of friendship with classmates and hostel mates. Sorted the wheat from the chaff, as it were. Friendships from childhood might now strike one as shallow, lame, innocent and child-ish but the passage of time will bring some of those to the forefront as having stood the test of time. The ones that do are meaningful. And added to this wonderful college gang of ‘undying’ friendships’ will draw your circle of friends out wider and bigger and better than ever before.


  1. Sapna1:09 AM

    Enjoyed both your 'friendship' posts. Friendships can get so complicated at times.......maybe the best ones are the easy, straightforwaed ones where there is no drama. Your thoughts??

  2. You were right :) I more or less agree with what you said about college friendships!

  3. As I grow older, I am realizing that the friendships I made in school and to some extent college are the 'purest' forms of friendship I have in my life. No expectations, just hanging together because you like each other kind of friendships. The real friends have remained friends through the years even though we haven't always connected with each other for years together sometimes.

  4. Although I'm not too old, I'm beginning to sense that my college friendships are the lifelong ones. You may drift but the bond remains.