For me, college was the ultimate anecdote to a lonely and awkward high school experience. I had so few friends and so little confidence upon entering college that I was terrified! Within my first year in school, I had befriended more people than I can even remember. And it was just the beginning…
College is four years of fun, socializing, partying, and more fun… it’s non-stop. Most grads have memories of weeknight parties, blurry weekends, and friends, acquaintances, lovers… It’s a whirlwind of social activity. And just as quickly as it begins, it’s all over.
Beyond the debt, past the perpetual job hunt, in between the moving out and moving in, a lot of friends separate, and a lot of acquaintances disappear. Within six months of graduation, suddenly, most of the people you’ve seen every day or every week are… gone. Just as soon as you adjust to leaving your family behind and high school friends, now the good-bye cycle begins again.
I’ve never experienced such social anxiety and loneliness as I did the first eight months or so after graduation. I stuck around town for a few months before traveling abroad, and those few months of being near college when my classmates had left the building felt surreal. While I had a few undergrad friends in the area, the majority of my life departed quickly. And it only got worse.
In time, you of course will meet new people wherever you end up – such is life. But in the meantime, don’t forget the people that have made college the best four years of your life! It takes effort, but the internet – with email and social networks like myspace and facebook – makes it easier than ever. Not to mention cell phones, Vonage, and Skype. In fact, many new Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile cell phones offer free long distance in their plans, so long distance calling is cheap. In an age of unlimited communication options, there’s no reason you should lose touch unless it’s mutual disinterest.
Most likely, friends will disperse themselves in pockets throughout the country or world. While it sucks that everyone is far away, it’s the perfect excuse to take a road-trip once or twice a year to visit different people. Take a weekend to drive to see a friend, or meet halfway if you’re far away. There’s no reason that the good times in college have to end!
Personally, I’m not a phone person and socializing has always been a bit of a challenge for me. So I feel that if I can keep in touch with friends, anyone can! Here are some little things that I do to stay connected:
Host a yearly party – a big bash that reunites your circle of friends. Invite everyone. Not everyone will be able to come every single year, but regardless, it’s always fun to have a good ‘old college kegger once a year!
Remember birthdays. There are websites to help you if you are terrible with this – but it’s nice to even just drop an email on your friends’ birthday.
Go visit. This is obvious, but easier said than done. Make an effort – it’s fun!
Be there. Know about what’s going on in their lives and when you can help out, do so. We’ve had friends crash at our place, posted email notices when jobs or apartments were available, collaborated on projects or freelance gigs, offered references, car-pooled, and helped many a friend move in or out of their apartment.
If you lose touch for a while, always reconnect. I’ve gone almost a whole year without speaking to or writing to some friends. But rather than let it go on the wayside, always reconnect. Better late than never!