A while back I was talking to my best friend on the phone and we came to a realization. While we had only been friends for ten years, in many ways it felt like it had been an entire lifetime. We first met during our freshman year of college having been placed on the same floor. Our RA told us to go outside dressed as superheroes and try to catch a squirrel, and well, the rest as they say is history. It is appropriate that we dressed as superheroes as he became the War Machine to my Iron Man.
This was someone I could trust implicitly to have my back and time and again he and the rest of my friends continued to do just that. It is often said to incoming Freshman at college that the friends you make that year will be your friends for life. Initially I scoffed at the notion. Growing up I didn’t have a lot of friends so the idea that these people I was suddenly tossed in the mix with could be friends for life is incredible.
How right that advice was. Ten years after I met them, four of the friends I made can definitely be called not only my best friends but my friends for life. How exactly is it that these friendships can be so long lasting and deep, despite having only grown over the course of four years? If we are honest most “normal” friendships don’t grow or develop over four years, they take an entire lifetime to grow.
However college is something radically different from a “normal” life. You come into college as a young, eager freshman ready to take on the world. Your peers are in the same boat. Financially speaking they are as broke as you are, so money doesn’t matter. They also aren’t sure exactly what they want in life either.
The people they see are going to be around you for that first year will be around you for a total of 180 days. That is the average length of time that most astronauts and cosmonauts spend on the International Space Station. Ask any astronaut who is part of such a crew and they’ll tell you that you grow close to your crew mates and you learn to get along with each other and cope with each other’s eccentricities.
That’s how it is for college friends. In that close space of the dorm you grow closer to each other .You find yourself staying up late hanging out and talking. You will find yourself being more “real” with them then you were with any other people you met in your life.
It will be in those moments when you are talking when you’ll find you have more in common then you can ever possibly imagine. As CS Lewis wrote in his chapter “Friendship” in the book The Four Loves,
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
During those four years, you are also going to do a lot of growing up together. You are going to be side by side during some of the hardest moments you’ll face. However, you’ll also be there to celebrate some of the best times. It is because of those experiences you share, and the time you’ll spend that your friendships will actually transcend the bonds that we casually call “friendship” and become something more.
When holidays and birthdays come around, they will be among the first to wish you well. When you have great news to celebrate they will be happy to celebrate with you. When you suffer an incredible loss, they will be there to mourn beside you. You’ll even find yourself taking on their children as nephews and nieces and even viewing their spouses as in-laws.
And the bond of a family is something that can never die. That’s why your friendships you make in college will last so long. It’s more than just a friendship you had as a child; it’s a matter of family.