Throughout life, different people will come into your world for all kinds of different reasons. Some are meant to stay forever; some, only for a brief moment. Sometimes, you get to say your goodbye, end the relationship, gain the closure. More often than not, however, this is not the case. Friendships end abruptly. People move away, die, change. It is a natural part of life.
I had a group of friends freshmen year. A big group. We did a lot of things together, spent a great deal of time together making memories, sharing stories, and experiencing our first year of college. Now, entering our senior year, we have drifted apart. They are simply classmates; comrades in the world of Academia with whom I share a few precious memories and a handful of pictures. I do not necessarily miss their presence in my life, but their absence is definitely felt. We all sort of branched off; there wasn’t a big blowout or a fight to end our time together. Chunks of us remain friends in some aspect with others, but as a whole unit we are no longer a thing. Still, I felt as though I was missing something. Not really a sense of closure, but a feeling of lack of acknowledgement. These people were the ones with whom I navigated the murky, choppy waters of our first year of college. They were my listening ears, my steady movie nights, my safe bubble that I surrounded myself in before I made the leap into the world of Undergrad on my own. And so, I share with you now the thank you letter I would tell them if we were together again.
Dear Freshmen Year Friends,
Thank you. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for allowing me to stick to you like glue when I was too nervous to fully experience college on my own. Thank you for the bubble that we created. Thank you for the goofy memories, the late nights spent watching movies and having dance parties. Thank you for the safe haven; for the unspoken but fully understood agreement that this was a safe place.
Thank you for showing me that a family does not always have to be blood. Thank you for the love that constantly surrounded our little posse. Thank you for the comfort of knowing I did not have to go at it alone. Thank you for celebrating the big moments and providing comfort in the disappointments. Thank you for the twelve person dinner tables, the nights spent making cookies and watching movies, the Saturday morning brunches that seemed to last all afternoon.
It is often said that the people you are friends with freshman year, won’t necessarily be your friends by the time you graduate. People will change, transfer, grow. Coursework and classes and activities and interests will draw you to new friends, and further away from that core group. That does not mean these friends should be forgotten. They should be acknowledged, celebrated in a simple and quiet manner, for the role they played in your development. And so, I ask only a few simple things of you. Say hello to one another. Give a gentle wave or a small smile of acknowledgement. Do not turn a blind eye. Do not act as though they are invisible, or worse, unknown to you. Allow them, and the countless memories you all made together, to creep into your mind, even if for just a moment. Allow yourself the vulnerability of remembering the person you used to be.
I have not forgotten you all, and I never would. I am forever grateful for the foundation you helped me build during those first few nerve-wracking semesters. The time we spent together were some of the greatest moments of my college years. For that, and for you all, I am thankful.
All the best,