Alexis Hatcher

Psy-College-y Today

Friends Are the New Family

The support system that friends can provide is invaluable—especially in college.

Posted Oct 16, 2015

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism/Flickr
Source: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism/Flickr

By Beatrice Bugane

Some of my best college memories so far have involved staying up late in somebody’s dorm room with a group of people, talking late into the night. There’s something about a swinging door, friends filing in and out of a room at their will, that brings with it a sense of freedom and comfort. Other than the occasional awkward situation (like trying to figure out how to politely kick friends out of the dorm room when you want to go to bed), the college living set up is conducive to interaction and companionship. This environment, more than any other I’ve occupied, has helped me open up to other people. It has led me to form relationships that have been essential to my well-being.

Although college is largely portrayed as an academic endeavor, other areas of life shouldn’t be neglected—I’d argue, in fact, that these require even greater attention. The independence that comes with moving out often comes with a loss, or a reduction, of contact with important figures. For many, it means being away from family for the first time and facing emotional challenges primarily alone.

Before coming to college, I was told to make friends because friends could offer precious help with notes and homework, they could tell you where the parties were happening and even being in their company meant appearing well-adjusted. But friends, especially in college, during a time of intense change and formative experience, mean a lot more to me than that.

As an introvert, I often mentally walk myself through any problems I face, searching for solutions in reservation. I do think it can be challenging to talk about certain topics with others, such as academic struggles, complications in relationships, and differences in systems of belief. While there are often many resources available on campus—professors, advisors, and professionals that one can turn to for help—I’ve found it most comfortable and convenient to turn to friends.

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism/Flickr
Source: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism/Flickr

In college, I’ve been thankful to find that the advice given to me by my friends is consistently helpful. Especially where emotion is involved, outside perspectives can provide a distance that is objective and clear. When coupled with knowledge obtained through shared experience, this added point of view is alleviating.

With the numerous assignments, extracurricular activities, social events and seeming insignificant responsibilities that tend to add up throughout a semester, I can confidently say that college would be much more difficult to navigate emotionally and psychologically without the support of my friends. So, as much as I look forward to returning home during breaks whenever I have the opportunity to do so, I’ve come to see some of my college friends as a whole new kind of family.