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Jan 24 2018
by Neeti Joshi

How Seeing My High School Friends Over Winter Break Changed My Attitude Toward College

By Neeti Joshi - Jan 24 2018
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Throughout high school, I had a pretty tight-knit circle of friends for all four years. While they were reliable, I still spent almost all of high school looking forward to something more, something bigger. After all, we were from a small town with almost no opportunities, and I had always been too ambitious for my own good which led me to believe I was too good for my hometown and everything in it. I made it a point to not apply to my state school—where almost everybody else from my high school went—because I didn’t even want that as an option. It would’ve just been High School 2.0, and I wanted to go somewhere that no one else from my school was going in order to have a fresh start in a place where I felt I truly belonged and could succeed. The rest of my friend circle was staying close to home and going to the state school, and I felt more than ready to move on from them and start over in a place that I genuinely considered good enough for me.

Do I sound unlikable yet? Because if not, I definitely will.

I ended up at a school halfway across the country, away from almost everybody I knew, and I couldn’t have been more excited to move in August. For the first month or two, I loved my life. I wasn’t making new friends that were “good enough for me” as quickly as I expected I would, but I told myself that there was no reason to worry because at least I was away from my high school life. I was excited for these four months to change me in the best way possible so that I could go home over winter break and wow my high school friends with how worldly and “cool” I’ve become. I stayed in touch with a couple of my friends, and I would always tell myself that I was doing much better than them, that I was happier with my life than them. That even if I missed them, they probably missed me much more. I made it a point to not call them or FaceTime them the whole time I was gone so that our reunion would be that much better when we finally did see each other in December. I wanted them to see how much I'd changed, and I wanted them to be envious. I was excited to reconnect with them as a better version of myself. As the semester went on, I continued to not make too many new friends, but I told myself that it would be okay because I’d go back and everything would be the same as it was before college, and I’d still end up impressing them with how my life is, simply because it’s different from theirs.

A much better idea in theory. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be for me to see them after this long, especially seeing how much they’d changed—much more so than me. I had been taking our friendships for granted all this time, and I definitely learned that the hard way.

Being close friends with people, but not seeing them for four whole months can be hard, and sometimes going that long without a face-to-face conversation may take its toll. Long-distance relationships are extremely difficult, and sometimes the reunion may also be equally difficult. I found myself realizing that our relationships were no longer what they once were, and that was heartbreaking for me. I hadn’t really considered the idea that they were growing closer to each other since they went to the same college, and also that they were making new friends much more easily than I did. I always had that feeling of being left out over winter break because I hadn’t spent time with them over the past semester in the way they had with each other. And even though they had ended up at a school near our hometown, they still seemed happier. My happiness was relying on making them jealous, but their happiness had nothing to do with me. I thought that leaving my town would make me happier, but really that happiness comes from within, something that has taken me this past month to truly understand. Hopefully when I return to college this upcoming semester, I’ll take the lessons learned from winter break and try to truly enjoy myself and make the most out of my experience, rather than only using it as a means of escape and a way to impress my friends, who clearly didn’t need impressing because they were too busy focusing on bettering themselves. Something that I should've done.

While this experience hit me hard, it was also a valuable lesson that I didn’t know I needed. It taught me that I need to do what I want only for myself, and not to make myself appear better to others. I had turned into the kind of person that I used to hate—stuck up, pretentious and egotistical. I didn’t want to be that person any longer, so I made the conscious decision to simply stop being that person. Winter break taught me a few important things, and hopefully, I retain what I learned moving forward into this new semester.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Neeti Joshi - New York University

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