Four years ago, I was getting ready to begin college. My bedroom and kitchen were covered in stuff as I was in the middle of packing. A woman from my church brought over supper one night, so in the middle of overflowing boxes and bags, we shared some pizza and breadsticks. She asked me, “What are you the most afraid of?”
Honestly, I told her, I think I’m the most afraid of not knowing who to sit with at lunch.
Admitting it seems like such a foolish thing to have been my biggest fear entering college. As an introvert, I’ve never thought of myself as someone who makes friends easily. Not to mention, the friends I had in school, I have known since kindergarten. It almost feels like we were born as friends, as if we always been friends and I had no idea how they decided to become friends with me. I was scared that I didn’t know how to make friends.
I think it’s in kindergarten we learn to make friends we have to be a friend. Somewhere in life, I had fights with friends, but I also somehow managed to learned to be generous, caring and forgiving. Honestly, it’s all easier said than done.
I remember meeting my college roommate for the first time, thinking instantly we would never become friends. I had this overwhelming feeling I would be alone throughout college. Thankfully, I was totally wrong. In addition to living with that same roommate for the entire four years of college, I also found a great group of friends. It’s like I stumbled into having a great support system of friends. I know I really have God to thank for that.
Four years later, with a degree on my shelf and a graduation cap and gown in my closet, my support group of friends are scattered around the United States. Mostly all still within the Midwest–and Texas. And isn’t Texas like a different country? So maybe I feel we are more scattered than we really are. I know that to keep and sustain my friendships miles apart, we all need to intentionally put forth some effort. I think that’s why my friend drove to downtown Omaha when I was driving through. I know it was probably a hassle for her to take the time to drive to the nearest Starbucks to the interstate, but I was so encouraged and energized by catching up. I had no idea how much I needed it.
I’m starting seminary couple of days, and I will once again find myself in a place where I don’t know anyone. I find myself with that same fear of not knowing who sit with, not knowing who to talk to, and thinking that I’ll be alone the whole time. I know that’s not the case, but I am a collector of irrational fears. Among those fears, in addition to making friends, is keeping friends. We need each other. So now that I’m not living with my same group of friends from college, it’s going to take effort to keep in touch. It’s going to take effort to keep those friendships.
I have been reading a book one of my friends sent me for my birthday, called Results May Vary, which is a compilation of stories for young women in their 20s and 30s as they are learning how to navigate life. I’m still less than one hundred pages in, but so far, it’s really been insightful and been getting me to think. The first story is about friendships, written by Melissa Tucker. In it, she writes:
Though each friendship has a life of its own, and circumstances of life dictate certain realities that affect our friendships, my community is full of diverse perspectives and gifts has guided and sustained me. The more I live, the more I value and rely on the people who have known me through tragedy, transitions, and time. And so, I open up my hands, welcoming in old and new relationships, giving all a free space to just be.
I think I may write about this same topic, without anything really new to say, but I believe friendships are so important. Sometimes it is hard because some friendships change with seasons of life, but even the friendships that don’t last are still worth it. You have the ability to learn something from each person you encounter in life. So even though I’m standing on the edge of something new (seminary), I know it will be worth it. If there’s anything I’ve learned so far, it’s that the things that scare you most are usually the most worth it.