Hannah Croft at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest in a series about college life by Hannah Croft, who graduated last June from Santa Rosa High School and is a freshman at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.

By HANNAH CROFT

I’m back at school with a quarter of college under my belt. I have a ton of stories to tell, but I can’t quite decide how. They’re those “you had to be there” kind of shenanigans and, quite frankly, you weren’t there. So the roommate wars, the all-nighters, and the road trips mean nothing to you. But really, these little stories that are so hard to tell and do justice to are the bits and pieces that make college life so great.
Socially speaking, college is a totally different ball field. There is no transition, either. You get thrown into this “Choose Your Own Adventure” lifestyle immediately. YOU decide when dinner is, what you’re having and who you’re going to eat with. YOU decide when, where and how you study. In a sense, I am a one-woman wolf pack. And I’m OK with that. Because 300, one-man wolf packs makes one giant pack … right?
Right. And that’s essentially been my approach this past quarter. I have made friends with and say hello to everyone in my building, as well as a few extraneous kids. I have not dug myself in the same hole of a clique like we all did in high school. Whoever is going to dinner when I’m hungry, that’s who I eat with. Whoever is walking to class at 10 a.m., that’s who I walk with. Routine is a waste of time. Spontaneity is the spice of life.
But it’s inevitable: You find your niche. You have “friendquaintances” as my best friend calls them, you have your friends who you go grab lunch with on a whim and then you have your family. Those are the ones who you stay up late chatting with, whose wardrobe is your wardrobe, who you hope with all your might will want to live with you next year because you can’t imagine being without them. Those are the ones you’d willingly drive nine hours just to say hi to over winter break.
College friendships move quickly. You meet one night and the next night you’re sitting on your new best friend’s bed, talking about things you never imagined you’d tell someone you just met. But I’m never worried I’m saying too much or trusting too quickly. It’s just the way things work out when you spend nearly 24 hours a day with the same people.
So not only do they move quickly, but they change quickly. I can see already that I’m becoming closer with some and distancing myself from others. It’s a whirlwind. And it’s not fast paced in a bad way, it’s just in a way that takes some getting used to.
But I’ll tell you that whoever I’m with, I always have a really fantastic time. Whether we’re sitting around in our pajamas playing Apples to Apples in the common room, out to dinner downtown or sitting in our hallway talking about cute guys in our psychology class, I like where I am, and I like the people I surround myself with. Warren Zevon once said, “I like where I am, that’s my big secret.” And I’m telling you that secret. It’s a waste of time to spend even seconds with people who don’t make you smile because as cheesy as it sounds, these four years will go by far too quickly.
Things do change, though. You’ll realize the kids you hung out with all of high school may not be the people you’re going to invite to your wedding or, more immediately, who you go to when you need a shoulder to cry on. But I think it’s really important to hold onto those relationships. New friends are great, but no one knows you quite like your best friend who stood beside you through every breakup, make up, and fight with your parents. So don’t let that one go.
By that same token, you inevitably will lose touch with people you never thought you would. Life happens when you’re busy making plans, said John Lennon. And life also happens when you’re hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away from the people you used to love and confide in. So I made myself a promise when my friends started leaving: If they aren’t going to make an effort to talk to me, or return my calls or reply to my e-mails, I was going to stop trying. And that happened. A few times. And it was disappointing to learn that I wasn’t going to stay friends with some of those people forever, but like I said, life happens.
That’s really what I’ve learned when making friends. You just can’t sweat little things. What’s really crazy about college is how different people are from you. You’ll have friends of every political party and religion and nationality and upbringing and whatever else you can think of. And that’s part of the fun. Don’t stress. Have fun. Don’t be afraid to reach out because that girl who you’ve seen in the bathroom every morning for three months who looks really cool might want to be your friend, too. You’ll never know until you introduce yourself.