The Friendship Shrinkage Conundrum

When I was preparing to go to college I was told that the friends I made there would be the friends I have for the rest of my life. That made me so excited. Who wouldn’t want friends for life? So when I was suddenly part of this awesome group of six girls from my freshman floor I was ecstatic. I couldn’t say how it all happened. I think my roommate was in an OA group with one of the other girls who was neighbors with two of the other girls. Either way a great friend group was formed. We called ourselves the “Sexy Six” and even had our own group message to keep in touch.

It was great. We had dinner together. We hung out together. We celebrated each others birthdays with door decorations and dinners. We would gossip and vent to each other. Some of us even took classes together. We were inseparable. Well, until we weren’t.

I can’t pinpoint the moment when it happened but suddenly we weren’t hanging out as much as we used to. The group message wasn’t in use anymore. We didn’t text each other asking, “What time is dinner?” We’d go with other people. Suddenly, we’d have to schedule our hang out sessions because we were all so busy with our clubs and our classes and our new friends. Eventually, we just stopped having hang out sessions at all.

That’s when I realized we grew apart. There was no fight. No drama. No falling out. We just weren’t really friends anymore. But by the time I realized this I had a new group of friends. We were having dinner all the time and hanging out in each other rooms. We were suddenly inseparable and it was like the whole friend process started all over again.

Over time even that friend group has truncated and I’ve gained new friends since then. Now I’d say I have a solid group of about four friends that I would consider my closest. The ones I run to with good news or bad news. The ones I ask for career advice or boy advice. The ones who know me sometimes even better than I know myself.

It’s this group of friends, the ones that I have inside jokes with. The ones who will travel to New York just celebrate my birthday with me.  This smaller group of people are the friends I think everyone was talking about. The one’s that will last forever. The ones who’ll be at my wedding and become godparents to my kids.

But what about that first group? Or even the second? What happened to those friends? As a Resident Assistant to freshman I see this all the time. The group of seven or even eight friends that instantly click during New Student Orientation and become thick as thieves. Taking group photos together, going to party togethers, doing everything together.

Then either the next semester or the following year things have changed. The group has shrunk, either being split down the middle or becoming something totally different entirely. Suddenly that big group has disbanded and they’re not one united front anymore.

So what happens? What changes? Well that’s easy. We do. We realize that although we may have loved the first friends we made when we got here and yes they totally helped us transition into college life there was probably a lot of things we didn’t know about each other before we decided we were going to be the best of friends. College is the time when we probably change the most. It’s the first time (for most of us) that we’re living away from our parents. When we’re on our own, making our own decisions. It’s the time when we get to experiment and try new things and learn what it is we’re really passionate about.

Of course that’s going to change from the time we first get here to the time we leave. And that’s fine. It’s expected even. And just as we change so do our friends. We discover we have different interests, different goals, different ideals, etc. This isn’t bad, it’s just the way it is.

It’s not bad to come to college and have this large group of friends. It’s great even. I wouldn’t change my “Sexy Six” crew for the world. It doesn’t matter if the friends you make here last for a year or last forever. What matters is all the different experiences you make with those people. The memories you forge with the different friends you make here matter and all those group photos you took will still mean something to you when you look back at them years from now, whether you’ve kept in touch with those people or not.

But when you do find that group of people that you know will be around for a while, the one’s you call your “ride or dies”? The ones who have seen you at your best and your worst. Well, those are the friends you know are worth keeping.

2 thoughts on “The Friendship Shrinkage Conundrum

  1. It seems like I had a different group of friends every year at college. Unfortunately, as time has moved on (I’m now 31), I’m not friends with anyone – just Facebook Friends with a few. Though I still know lots of people that are still very close with their college friends.

    1. I think it varies from person to person. I don’t know if my friends and I will remain friends until the end of our days but I know that I hope we will.

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