Invest in college friendships before graduation

When I look around JBU, I see that most people here have their people. They have their “tribe” of like-minded students where they can find encouragement, fellow mourners and spiritual accountability partners. We like to say things like “I’m so glad I get to do life and be real with so-and-so.” And that’s great.

But what happens when our friends aren’t with us anymore? What happens when our geographical loMapcation doesn’t bind us together?

Most of us have dealt with the separation from our new college friends that comes with summer break. Even shorter holidays like fall and spring break can make us feel sad.

I’m not sure if other seniors are feeling this way, but the impending separation that comes after graduation scares me.

Some of my closest friends have already graduated or transferred out of JBU, and I rarely—if ever—talk to them. I worry that the same will happen with my closest friends who I will graduate with in May. When I move back to Texas and they stay in Arkansas or move to Tennessee, Nebraska and California, will we keep in touch? Will we come back to JBU for reunions or meet up once a year to catch up? Or will we become silent Facebook friends, occasionally liking each other’s photos and life events?

There’s an immaterial, emotional investment that you put into your friends. You put a piece of yourself into them, and they help define who you are. But when, suddenly, they aren’t as close—physically or metaphorically—you can feel lost. And I don’t want that to happen to us in 176 days.

Even the separation from living off-campus has been difficult. Especially with my friends who still live on campus, it can be extremely hard not to feel distant or left out despite making an extra effort to participate in campus events. I couldn’t be happier living off campus this year, but after living in Mayfield for two and a half years, the sudden lack of constant community can be jarring.

I came into this school year with the intention to invest further in my friendships and devote time to the people I care most about, but it’s hard not to make people feel like a note in my calendar or to feel like a note in theirs. We are all busy with school, jobs and extracurriculars, but busyness shouldn’t be an excuse.

I used to make the busy excuse all the time, but I’ve realized that you are never too busy to be a friend to someone.

I’ve sacrificed sleep, time for homework and personal time to be with friends when I should have been doing other things. As one of my friends said, “Friendship is like a Tamagotchi. You have to give it constant attention.”

Of course, the responsibility for maintaining the friendship doesn’t just fall on one person; both friends have to devote time and love to the other.

I’ve had people give me conflicting advice about maintaining friendships. Most people say it’s 50-50; that one person should not be putting vastly more effort into the relationship than the other.

I definitely don’t have all the answers when it comes to navigating relationships, but I’ve learned a lot more than I thought I would since coming to JBU. I’ve had really good friendships as well as a couple terrible ones.

Most importantly, though, I’ve learned how critical it is to truly invest in a relationship, because you will only get back what you put into it.

Galloway is a senior majoring in communication. She can be reached at GallowayKS@jbu.edu.