Our friendships will change, but are not over

For the Class of 2014, our undergraduate career is nearly finished. It finally hit me today, a few days before the semester’s end. It seems to me as good a time as any to reflect on the nature of friendship.

We are at a point in our lives when things will change rapidly, among them many of our relationships. We do our best to ignore the reality. We promise each other that we’ll visit each other, that we’ll meet once a year for a trip, that we’ll talk once a week, that things won’t change, not really, because how could they, after all we’ve been through together? There are the jokes between casual acquaintances, said flippantly but belying a deeper truth: “In 3 weeks, I’ll never see you again,” and, of course, there are  the more somber acknowledgements between close friends and lovers: “I’m really going to miss you.” Those moments when we recognize the upcoming changes in our lives make us vulnerable, and they are uncomfortable, even painful. There is no question that this is simultaneously a deeply saddening and profoundly joyful time. But this is a necessary part of life.

Love, especially the love of deep friendship, is not contingent on the preservation of a specific set of circumstances. In our time together at Trinity, we each grew closer to some people and farther from others, the various dimensions of ourselves evolving as we matured as people. We were always changing, somehow, and still are; we just happened to be here as we did. And now, as we move on to new things, we have to come to terms with a change of setting and a change of status. This is not to say, however, that it must only bring us sadness.

I should be clear about a few things. We should not fool ourselves into thinking there will be another Thursday at Bay’s, another group dinner, another long night spent bonding over quirky, but mutual interests. Don’t count on having that chance. Don’t take your friends for granted while you have them close to you. You will lose touch with people, some of whom you may care deeply about.

Part of what makes these times precious is that they cannot last forever. But friendship does not end on May 17, it only changes. This particular chapter in our lives has run its course, and rather than hold onto our friends too tightly, rather than possessing them, we should find real happiness in what the future holds in store for them, and for ourselves, even if we must do so through tears. The world is large and full of wonders. If their living full and happy lives means we may never see our friends again, then good riddance and good luck to them. The love we have for them will not change. Roll Tigers, forever.

“When you part from your friend,

you grieve not;

For that which you love most in him

may be clearer in his absence,

as the mountain to the climber

is clearer from the plain.”

– Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”