When editing this, I made sure to CTRL+F ’adulting’—you’re good to go, reader!
I love friendship. It makes the world go round and is the glue that holds the crumbs of my sanity together. However, friendship is also confusing and complex—especially as a young adult. Friendship dynamics change, forming genuine connections with others becomes increasingly challenging and people inevitably drift apart, whether they want to or not.
The last two years have made me realise friendship is a lot of hard work. Who would’ve thought you have to put in actual effort through initiating and (more importantly) following through with plans to maintain somewhat of a social life? It turns out that my flaky and lazy self needed to change if I still wanted people to call friends… What’s also different about friendship in university is something I’ve self-indulgently coined as “catch-up” culture. This unresearched and non-academic term refers to the increasing occurrence of interactions we have with others that are composed more of “catching up” on each other’s lives, rather than just hanging out. Despite being annoyingly nosy and always thirsty for the latest tea on who’s done what, I miss having plans that form new memories. A catch-up over brunch is incomparable to a spontaneous adventure that creates stories you can look back on and cringe over. While that’s still definitely achievable, it just requires a lot more proactive effort from both parties—which can be difficult when everyone’s schedules clash. Or, it’s the end of the semester and we’re unfortunately obliged to prioritise securing that expensive piece of paper over holding a girls’ night.
While maintaining friendships requires a lot of work, making new genuine connections is a whole other ordeal. It probably doesn’t help that our university is notorious for its “anti-social” reputation. Most of us would agree that the student experience can definitely be isolating and lonely at times. It’s pretty hard not to feel like a small fish swimming in a big pond with the thousands of unfamiliar faces we see around campus every day. Sitting next to a stranger in a lecture theatre is always a gamble. They’ll either pretend you don’t exist, thus triggering your social anxiety and the overwhelming urge to die in a hole—or you’ll become besties that never see each other again. Shout out to all the cool people I’ve talked to for five minutes during lecture breaks—hope you guys are alive and thriving, or whatever!
Don’t even get me started on networking, a phenomenon I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand or enjoy. How is this strange activity of extended and forced small-talk, that is not only fake but purely based in self-interest, so normalised? The only reason I can even make it past 10 minutes at these events without fleeing through the fire escape is the free food. Despite my pessimistic outlook on networking, if you have to gain as many “industry” and LinkedIn connections to secure that internship—fair enough. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do for that future coin and I respect that hustle. However, this weird form of adult socialisation does make creating new connections feel disingenuous and like some sort of numbers game. Call me idealistic and naive for wishing that all connections should be born out of pure intentions, but you can’t deny that forced socialisation is unsettling and bizarre. Or, maybe I just don’t know how to network—that’s also plausible.
Furthermore, being a young adult is just a really strange period of time in general. Some of our friends are studying, others are working full time jobs. Some may be parents or not even on the same floating island as us. The vast variation in life stage and location within our friendships often results in people inevitably growing apart, a process that usually occurs completely out of our control. Drifting apart from a friend is honestly a type of heartbreak that needs to be talked about more. It’s sad watching someone you once knew so well turn into an acquaintance where the conversation never goes beyond small talk. It’s painful watching that acquaintance eventually turn into someone you smile politely at across the street. This type of sadness is not only appropriate for K-Drama, but also a tough pill we all need to swallow. People come into and leave our lives for a purpose and even though that reason isn’t always immediately clear, sometimes it’s better to let these people go and move on.
The death of a friendship sucks but it always makes room for another. It also highlights the value and importance of the people we have in our current lives. While those connections may not last forever, what’s important is that they matter to you right now—so cherish that and show gratitude for the people you have in your life in this present moment.