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Although social convention dictates that we will be decent to those who we encounter on a daily basis (even if some are a tad insufferable), we do, generally, get to choose the people we bring into our lives on purpose. These are the people who we don’t just talk to, but we share out fears and dreams with, the people who we will happily pick up off the floor of Sugarhouse (providing they’re not stuck there, of course!). And we might expect to find them in certain place. But if you have a look around once in a while, you might find a friend in the place you least expect.
When we choose our friends we seem to adhere to a sort of unspoken rule. We should, in theory, choose people with similar interests. We will have plenty in common, be on the same page – it’s a great plan, but a very boring one.University is one of the best places for meeting people who aren’t like us because they have come from different walks of life, different countries, and have different interests. The thought of striking up a conversation with someone you don’t have anything in common with might be scary, but it’s one of the best thing you can do. By talking to someone who is a little bit different from you, you can enrich each other’s perspectives on the world and make friends for life.
But it’s not just differing opinions that can make a great friendship. At uni you may be forced to complete the infamous group project with someone you don’t know. But that’s half the fun of university: meeting people and learning to get along and learning about one another. The people on your course will have at least one mutual interest with you, and the chances are that they can teach you something you didn’t know about that subject. While it can be a pain spending time with people you may not see eye to eye with, it encourages you to find a middle ground and will help you to become a well-rounded person at the end of it all.
Next up, I want to look at friends of convenience. This sounds somewhat crass but in reality, especially in a university environment, you can get stuck with the people you are supposed to make friends with (your flatmates from first year). What I propose is that you remember that everyone you talk to doesn’t have to be a friend for life. At uni it’s totally acceptable to talk to people when you’re drunk and then never talk to them again. Not everyone has to be a friend for life, but the memories of random and largely drunken chats about the meaning of life are memories that will stay with you!
To quote the legendary Mr Gump, ‘life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get’. I’m not saying disregard your friends at the moment, they might be great and perfect for you. All I’m saying is open your eyes once in a while and you might just find the unexpected gem.