Near the start of my second semester at medical school, I began writing a post discussing the way I regarded some of my friends, namely some who I had the opportunity to bond with throughout my time at undergrad. Amidst the trials associated with medical school and the new friends I had made there, I still persisted in thinking about my college friends from time — a testament to the impact of these ties on my life. After leaving medical school, I found that the point I made in this entry had only been strengthened by my changed social conditions. As I sit here and reflect upon how my relationships with my friends have evolved over the years, I write so that I may portray the value I place in getting to have known some of these individuals and the times we have spent together.
Around sixth grade was the point in my maturity where I began to consider some of my friends and I as “inseparable”. The majority of our class schedules would be the same, we would play cards at lunch together, and we would always have things to talk about (such as the Nintendo GameCube which had recently been released). About three quarters of the way through the year however, I was unexpectedly informed that I would be moving because of my father’s job. When I told my friends at school, all of a sudden we began to visit each other’s houses a lot more frequently; it was an unspoken way of spending the remaining time we had left together. Even so, when I finally left, we fell out of contact fairly quickly. In a time where Skype did not exist and pre-teens did not commonly have access to cell phones (along with the plethora of social media apps such as Facebook), we had known that this would happen. If my friends at the time felt as I did, we were just thankful for the closure we were able to provide one another during my last months in the city — there was too much to experience as a middle-schooler to dwell on the past.
I actually ended up moving numerous times over the course of those years to the point that I attended a new school every year. Every single time I was able to make amazing, intelligent new friends and then leave them behind as I moved on to a new school. It was tiring in a way. If I really think about it though, I believe that those years are the ones that shaped my regard for friendship the most profoundly.
The simple fact of the matter is that I never had, and still do not, have trouble making friends — good friends. Whether it be because of my personality or the fact that I usually know what I am doing (be it in school or otherwise), I have always found myself within a close-knit group of friends wherever I go. Having spent many of my adolescent years like this, as unpleasant as it sounds, even today I am not afraid of losing friends. If I am to be completely honest, I do not even tend to face much anxiety in cutting communication with long-distance contacts if they cause me too many problems. It is not that I do not appreciate the company of my friends or devalue my time with them though, but the fact has always remained that I could always make friends when I needed them — I could not help that growing up.
As consequence, it was never a question of me being accepted by others; it would be a question of me choosing to become friendly with certain people. It was not very easy to truly become my friend (nor is it simple to do so today). When we did become friends however, not only would I try to help out in every way that I could, but I would also tend to wrap them up in whatever latest scheme I had come up with — we would make memories together. This security in my ability to bring substance to a friendship persists today (to the point where I originally took the “Friends” list on Facebook as literal when it first came out).
As I matured and experienced college, many of these subconscious dynamics still came onto play, but I also grew more open minded. See, when living on campus for four years, you practically “grow up” with your friends there. There is a reason why our parents often fondly look back upon their college days. For me, it was the first time that I was able to appreciably hang around the same people for as long as I did without having to move.
“Living” with my friends and seeing them every day was of course, pleasant, but it also made me aware of their small imperfections along the way, as all people have. I suppose this humanized them significantly in my eyes (compared to in the past where I knew that I would leave my friends behind as I moved to the next school anyways) and I quite easily accepted these characteristics. I came to understand that people possess different levels of self-worth and can grow/regress as such. I also came to understand the near responsibility someone with my level of security has in helping their friends address their concerns.
Over the years I have evolved my own special blend of being unworried about providing frank advice to my friends (on account of my own security) and appreciation for the longevity of our friendship even when faced with minor problems. I have also been able to pinpoint some of the traits I value most critically in my continued friendship with others — to me, the most important trait is dependability. Dependability tells me that people know how to take care of themselves, how to take care of others, and how to juggle the two properly. I also respect wit and insight — characteristics needed to approach discussion intelligently and amicably. I consider these traits important enough that if one of my friends’ personalities would suddenly change to discard one of them, it would significantly affect my regard for them.
Nowadays, I look back on my college friends almost as childhood friends. I have other cherished friends as well, including some online, but perhaps because undergrad served as a turning point for the way I regarded people does my time there hold a special place in my memories. Interestingly enough, while being an hour away from them, I never visited my friends at UTD until the second semester of my first year at medical school. The manner in which we would hang out speaks for itself however — we were so secure with one another’s presence that it hardly felt out of the ordinary.
I still remember when I visited my old room mate Charlie’s apartment… a lot of the familiar furniture we had shared before was in different places, but the apartment still retained its familiarity. It was also neat to see how Charlie had incorporated some of my old habits into their life as well — it was only inevitable after living together for so long. When I visited Dallas that day, the first time I had done so since graduation, Charlie was the only one who was already home from the holidays so we were able to catch up one-on-one.
When I had knocked on the apartment door, there was a little more endearment in Charlie’s “hey” than usual… but it was the same deal: I sat down on my side of the couch. We talked. We watched an episode of Star Trek. We walked up to campus along the same path we would always travel. We took in how much had changed, both in the campus’ appearance since Fall 2009 and in our own respective lives. For lunch, we ate at the burger shop we had visited so many times before and just… talked. For a long time. It was nice to talk on a serious level about more personal matters than I would have spoken about to some of my medical school friends. There was a difference.
When my friend Linh returned, I of course made sure to visit her as well (often at the same time as visiting Charlie). When I would visit the two, we would term such days as “Dundays”. See, we had developed our own lexicon over the years and had termed “dun” as a verb to indicate “not doing anything” …usually in the place of responsibilities that would otherwise need to be addressed. It takes a special bond to be able to call up someone because you heard Veronica Taylor (the voice of Ash from Pokemon) was on campus and ask them to stand in line to await your arrival with practically no prior notice at all. It takes special friends to meet you there and hang out for a while just because you decided to drive over from Fort Worth on a whim. Naturally if they did the same, I would gladly help them out similarly or let them crash because we stayed up playing Hyrule Warriors too long. There is just such a level of comfort and security that we are able to do these things.
In the future, I hope to maintain such a dynamic and also strive to establish such bonds with brand new friends. I definitely hope to enjoy some of my online friends’ companies one day in similar unadulterated manners as well (seeing as I am only rarely able to meet with them, if ever). I know not who will still be standing here as part of my journey decades later — people and circumstances change of course — but as long as people accompany me along my journey, I will hold dear our arcs together.