Ditching Your High School Friends

By Helen Bansen on October 1, 2012

As a first year here at Davis, I have observed a trend I never saw coming.  My friends from high school, who are still in high school, are ignoring me.  I keep trying to remind them, you know, these last few weeks are the only time in THE REST OF MY LIFE that I will have nothing but time to spend with all of those darling little 16 and 17 year olds.  But they don’t care.  They seem to be living in the fantasy that they will be coming to visit me and sleep on my floor.  They’ve got another thing coming.  I have every intention of making my own friends in college, more than just my roommates.  I’m the only kid from my high school going to Davis, and I am ready for something new.  This is where I come to my advice for all of you new, incoming first years.  Ditch your friends.  Even the friends you came to college with, convinced that you’d be “best friends forever.”  College is a fresh start, and if you don’t believe me, just wait a couple of weeks.

Once, I was in a play with my friend, let’s call her Cz.  So, I only auditioned for this play because Cz did, and we had a great time until they broke us up into separate groups during the audition process.  So I went about my business, dancing, singing, reading lines, what you usually do, and didn’t really think about it, until they announced the callbacks.  The deal was, those that were called back stayed for about an hour and were looked at again, sang a solo, danced a bit more, it was the usual.  And I was sitting there, not expecting to hear my name, and then they said “Helen Bansen.” I waited, but didn’t hear her name.  They released us for a short break before the callbacks began, and Cz told me that she wasn’t going to wait for me, she was going to call her dad, who was supposed to be giving both of us a ride home, and they were going to leave me, about a 30 minute drive from the town we lived in, alone.  So, being the incredibly mature 13 year old that I was, I burst into tears.  I never anticipated that something as silly as a little callback would make Cz angry with me, and I never thought it would lead her to the point of abandonment.  It was terrifying.  And I thought she hated me.  Only later, when I realized she was mad because she didn’t get a callback, did I fully understand.  She wasn’t angry AT me; she was frustrated that I had done better than she had, and she was taking it out on me.

Later, I was cast as two characters.  I had to be at every rehearsal for 3 months, which was awesome, but also emotionally and physically demanding.  Cz was in the chorus, and had a small solo part.  She didn’t have to attend so many rehearsals, and I was once again adrift in being alone without her.  But I learned how to make friends, and I did.  She did not.  When she came to rehearsals, I would introduce her to my new friends, and they became hers as well, though to a lesser degree.  It was very difficult, trying to balance my desire to remain friends with her and develop new friendships.  When she was around, she constantly demanded my full attention, and I was worried she might abandon me again if I didn’t give it to her.  She continually threatened to quit the show.

There was one incident, where we were partnered in a scene, and we had to link arms.  I was distracted, it had been a long day, and we were all tired.  I was late for the cue, and she, rather than taking things up with me alone, announced to the entire cast and the director that I “clearly felt too good for her, and refused to partner with her” which was the opposite of the truth.  Seeing as we were both 13, we talked through it, and eventually reconciled.  By the play’s eventual (very brief, it was a children’s play) showing, we were friends again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to cut all ties with everyone you met before you came here.  I have friends back home that I miss with all my heart.  I have had a very hard time leaving all of the family and friends behind.  I don’t know anyone here, I mean that.  I have to fight the urge to constantly talk to my friends on the phone or bury my head in a book.  Or cry.  I seem to be doing plenty of that these days.  the funny thing is, this is one of the few times in your life that you’re allowed to look back, and it’s okay to be kind of stupidly nostalgic about pointless things, like the kids that bullied you in high school.  You are allowed to be a little bit sad, a lot scared, and 100% yourself all of the time, even when you don’t want people to see it.  None of us wants to have everyone see us as we are all the time.

It is funny how, when people have been spending far too much time together, they reveal things about themselves that they never expected or even wanted to share.  Cz expressed her insecurity at our changing relationship, her fear at us suddenly not being perfectly in synch, and ultimately, the strain that we would have in the future in a single sentence.  When really, she hadn’t needed to say much of anything.

This actually brings up another interesting topic.  Roommates.  You spend every single sleeping moment in the same room.  You share a refrigerator, you share a bathroom (in my case, I’m going to be sharing a bathroom with a hell of a lot more people than just my 2 roommates); you get to know each other. You think they’re so wonderful when you first move in, but then suddenly “poof!” they are human beings (or not…).  They sleep, maybe somebody snores, or, God forbid, has night terrors.  They eat; they leave their laundry on the floor.  And yes.  They fart.  And so do you.  And this may come as a shock to you, you don’t have to become best friends with them.

All the people I’ve spoken to lately, about their former college roommates and friends, have told me that they are friends “on Facebook, but not in real life.”  They tell me that I need to make friends other than my roommates, and, in talking to other first year students I went to high school with, I am quickly learning how true it is.  A girl I knew in high school (how long ago it seems!) only made friends with her roommate, and two weeks into the semester, her roommate went home.  There’s the rub.  It may seem heartbreaking to not become fast friends with the person (or people) you will be living with for the foreseeable future, but it happens.

So, here’s my advice to first year students: don’t expect one person to be your best friend.  Don’t come to school with your “best friend from high school” and expect that you’ll be able to make it through college with the same friends that you came with.  You are a growing, changing human being (or at least, I think you are.  I’m all for other intelligent life-forms).  You are probably an exceptionally intelligent human being, having been accepted to UC Davis.  You are too smart to get caught up in the storyline of “How I Met Your Mother”.  So get out there, explore.  You can make friends that you never expected you’d have in high school.  I explicitly plan on making friends with some people who play actual, physical sports (I was on the academic team in high school, which IS a sport, for your information) or maybe even spend some time out of the theater.

Starting college is scary.  You suddenly are around a lot of people you don’t know, and they are always there.  I mean ALWAYS.  Constantly.  My goodness is it hard.  You will want to cling to the relationships you brought with you, be it the ones from home, or the ones still at home.  They are a very important part of your life, and you won’t be able to break that bond, ever.  You shouldn’t want to.  You can’t forget that the friends you have that are still in high school/in other colleges/older than college age are important.  And it’s not healthy to forget that the world exists outside of UC Davis.  You can live in a million places at once (that’s what phones are for, just to let you know)


For all of the nerds I know are hiding out in their rooms, there’s a bright, beautiful world out there, and that means opening the blinds, unplugging your laptop, and turning it off.  Leave it right there, locked to your desk.  It is okay, nobody is going to take it.

And for all the jocks, I quiver in fear at the thought of you.  Get out there and look for the kid blinking in the light.  Make friends with the nerds, and I promise you’ll learn something new.  You might just see me among them.

And please, even if you bring along your high school friends (even if you are living with them) don’t anticipate the friendship being the same as it was in high school.  Everyone changes, every single day.  And you’ll want to make many new friends, and I guarantee, you will.  Everyone does.  Even me.


By Helen Bansen

Uloop Writer
Hello everybody, I am heading into my second year of writing for this marvelous blog! I have quite liked doing so for the last year, it's superfun and delightful. I wrote a book one time and published it, I got a fancy award for doing so! It was pretty great. I write about mental illness, gender and sexuality, feminism, television, the internet, movies, girl scouts, and general nonsense. Most of the time, the title is better than the whole article. I like titles. Someday, I'm going to have a band and call it "Hermaphrodites with Attitude" and it will be magnificent. That's all. I'm really sorry, please don't hit me with rocks and dead fish. DFTBA, Helen

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