Make new friends, but keep the old

The saying goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old.” This adage encapsulates the essence of friendship and how maintaining old bonds are just as important as creating new friendships.

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

But, maintaining old bonds from home and creating new ones in college are different experiences that require different care. 

Growing up, friendships felt almost predestined. They were shaped and nurtured by shared experiences in classrooms, clubs and community events. I had the privilege of making my closest friends in elementary school and growing up with them through senior year of high school. 

I grew up in a medium-sized town with one school district, and I went to school with virtually the same group of 300 kids from first grade to senior year. My peers and I grew up together and saw each other through all of the awkward stages and milestones. 

I remember meeting my best friend, Zainab, in second grade. We first bonded over a shared love of books, and our friendship quickly blossomed into a sisterhood. She helped me kindle my love of writing as we spent afternoons writing poems and building fantasy worlds. Zainab encouraged me every step of the way in my goal of becoming a writer. 

In high school, my friends knew me inside and out. They’d been there for the ups and downs, the triumphs and tribulations. I was terrified to leave the comfort of “my people” when heading to college across the country. 

The transition to college introduced me to a new realm of friendship dynamics. Orientation in June was my first taste of it. 

I immediately clicked with one of the girls in my assigned cohort. We bonded over a shared love of journalism and being the only South Asian girls in our major group. I was ecstatic to make my first college friend and felt that the same thrill I had years ago when I bonded with Zainab. 

Fast forward to the first official night of college when we reconnected, and it paralleled the feeling of childhood best friends reuniting. I was shocked how fast our friendship was progressing. 

Moving forward through the first week of college in September, I realized that one of the most surreal aspects of college friendships was the need to reintroduce myself.

I had to start from scratch by explaining who I was, where I came from and why I am the way I am to every single person I met — over and over again. 

Explaining my “lore” to my new best friends was odd. It felt strange to compress eighteen years of life into a few sentences and to reveal pieces of myself to virtual strangers whom I had met just a few days or weeks before. 

Though catching them up was a lot, I was surprised at how fast these bonds could form. Time felt expedited — each day felt like it encapsulated the events of a month. Spending night after night playing “We’re Not Really Strangers” on my dorm room floor, my new friends and I shared pieces of our past and dreams for the future. I felt like a giddy elementary schooler, reliving the thrill of childhood friendships.

Every person I met was like a kaleidoscope of personalities and backgrounds. Each encounter was like unwrapping a present. I found myself in second grade all over again, looking for my new ride-or-dies. I was looking for people like I did then, searching for bonds over shared interests and values.

Whether it was a shared sense of humor or a similar outlook on life, I couldn’t help but see glimpses of my past friendships reflected in these new faces. It was comforting to notice familiar traits and dynamics emerging in unexpected places, bridging the gap between old and new friends. 

Finding bits and pieces of the people I loved most in others was a surreal experience, and it helped the aches of homesickness that inevitably came with college. 

The friends I made back home provided a blueprint for forming strong bonds with those around me in college. They showed me what to look for in friends now, in a place where I have complete control over who I interact with each day. 

They will always be the people who watched me grow up — but now as I grow into adulthood, I am thrilled to add more characters to my story.

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