When Friends Start College, High School Seems a Million Miles Away
I don’t think of myself as the typical teenager, so when I picked up the Parent-Teacher-Student Association newsletter last month, I didn’t expect to relate to the Principal’s Message at all. As usual, there were the bold-faced names to congratulate, announcements about parental involvement, but what – what’s that? Did I just read a direct statement asking parents to understand their teenagers, asking them to give us a break?
As far as youth slang goes, the appropriate response would be “What? Hold up!”
Within Dr. Capritto’s message about student anxiety and leaving home, this statement stood out: “Many see their friends leaving, and they become anxious about what life looks like without their peer support, or what was once considered a lasting friendship.”
I read through his words again. “Is it possible,” I thought, “for my principal to understand me?” Well aware of my youthful suspicion of adults, his words seemed to come awfully close to what I felt.
In the past two weeks, my freshman college friends have made their way back to Santa Barbara for spring break. Just as with Thanksgiving and Winter break, we called everyone and went out to spend some time together. However, by this time of year, enough time has passed for both of us to adjust and lead our new, separate lives. This break, my friends commented in surprise, “Nothing’s changed here. Everyone is the same!” As a high school senior, I don’t really understand. From the beginning of the school year, I’ve noticed that social circles have changed, that people have new relationships, and that I’ve gotten caught up in my own work and affairs. It seems like lifestyle changes have happened since they left, so how dare they say that everyone is the same?
Of course, I speak with naivety. I’ve been told that college is a time of new experiences, one of the most social periods of your life. It makes me sad to think that my college friends return home and view everyone in high school as sheltered. However, more than this, it hurts to see how we’ve changed in our time apart.
My friends have returned back to college, and I wonder how many high school friendships and relationships are simply a product of time and place. Guiltily, I find myself rarely calling my old best friend, and I feel us drifting apart even when I do. When we met for lunch, our conversation held on the bits and pieces that we’d heard about each other, used in desperation to keep some kind of tie to each other’s life. We still had fun, but it’s as if something had changed in both of us, an inability to let down our walls and connect. As the one still stuck in high school, I feel left behind.
The principal’s message continues, “They may become apprehensive about their future, and rightfully so.” Seeing how my friends have adjusted to their new lives in college is both a reassurance and a curse (“innocence is bliss”). Personally, it seems like the safety and security of routine has already been broken for me, so I can’t wait to see the change that I’m missing.