“We have got to find a fun group.”
My best friend and I had been repeating this phrase since our freshman year of college. We both seemed to have this preconceived notion that we were supposed to have a group of friends that hung out regularly. A hearty mix of girls and guys, of course, all with fun-loving personalities, inside jokes and the same taste in music. We thought that’s how it was supposed to go. We needed a group to have fun, to feel accepted, to do college right.
Well, freshman year passed by. We spent a lot of time hanging out with my brother who was a senior and had already established his own “group.” We buddied up with some people who lived in our respective dorms, and we often met interesting folks at parties or in the dining hall. But none of them stuck. The group never formed.
Sophomore year passed. Then junior year went by. And before we knew it we were seniors. Older and wiser, with better taste in music and horizontal ID’s. Yet somehow we were still undeniably group-less.
I had a lot of ideas in my mind about how college should go. And like most expectations, it turned out to be completely different from what I anticipated.
That’s life, man.
It’s like when you’re in high school and you think about how much older and cooler college kids seem. Flexible schedules? No parents? Independence on tap? Then you grow into one and realize you’re not that sophisticated and life doesn’t look all that different. For some reason when I thought of college kids, a hippie guy with long blond hair and flip flops reading Shakespeare in the grass popped into my mind. Weird right? I know.
And just like I never had a Shakespearean, toe-bearing hippie sighting, I never formed a sitcom-esque group of college friends.
When my friend said the familiar phrase at the beginning of this semester, it sounded a little ridiculous to me for the first time.
“We have got to find a fun group.”
Wait a minute…why?
Would having a “group” of friends make us feel cooler? Would we have more fun? Would it really make college a heck of a lot better?
I may not have a group that drinks coffee every day at Central Perk or reconvenes at MacLaren’s pub for regular catch-ups, but I have a lot of fun. I have a best friend who’s just as weird as I am, and we usually end up in fits of laughter when we’re together. And I have friends that would probably never hang out with each other, but for some reason, I get along with all of them. It’s like I have a quilt of buddies. Each one is a mismatched patch, and I’m the thread that connects them.
There’s my freshman year roommate. She just might be the funniest person I know, but we probably never would have become friends if we hadn’t selected a random room assignment. There’s my buddy who always got me in trouble during journalism class by whispering hilarious things under his breath. There are my friends from high school whom I’ve grown closer to now that we’re in a school twenty times bigger. There are my girlfriends from abroad and my southern soul sister from my summer internship.
I don’t have a group. But I have a best friend and pals from different walks of life.
That’s enough for me. I just didn’t know it would be.
Let’s talk for a minute about expectations or the “X” factor if you will. We all have ideas in our minds about the way things should go. We should have X friends who do X things together X times a week. We should have dated X many people by the time we’re X years old. We should have X extracurriculars on our resumes and X number of hilarious stories to tell about college.
Guess what? It’s all crap.
Sometimes we get so caught up in thinking about the way things should be, that we don’t realize how lucky we already are. Sometimes your life weaves itself into a pattern you would never have thought up, and it turns out to be just what you needed.
So whether you’re a freshman, a graduate, or somewhere in between, this is a reminder that the number of contacts in your phone, or the number of people who say hi to you at the bars on Friday night has nothing to do with how great of a person you are.
There isn’t one way your life should look. In fact, your life will probably surprise you over and over, constantly kicking your expectations to the curb.
Just because you may not have the friend circle or support system you crave right now doesn’t mean you never will. You get to go out into the world and meet people who are wildly different from you. That’s pretty exciting stuff.
And we’ll end here with a glorious concept from elementary school arts and crafts that just happens to apply to friendship as well.
When it comes to friend-spectations, remember it’s quality, not quantity, that counts.