You've Got a Friend in Me


Don't forget your friends!

When you get into your graduate program or your first professional experience, it is easy to get wrapped up in it. You fall into routines full of working late hours, working on homework, or using what little free time you have to unwind. For even the most social of us, this can interfere with your social life. The friends from undergrad slowly start to fade away, and high school is merely a distant memory. This leaves your current cohort and colleagues to fulfill your social needs. While these relationships are real, and have the opportunity to become some of the most important you have had in your life (this is definitely my case) you have to determine how you are going to remain connected with your friends from throughout all walks of your life.

For me, this process has been tricky. During my time in graduate school, I basically lost contact with even the closest of my friends. We were separated by oceans, professions, and commitments, all of which made it impossible to keep in touch. While I still held them dear to my heart as my best friends, I no longer communicated with them. This crushed me, and made my time in graduate school even more difficult.

 

To compensate for this, we had to find new outlets of communication. Even though one of my friend was serving our country in Iraq, occasionally my odd sleep schedule would coincide with his break periods and allow us a few minutes of online gaming. As a passion of both of ours, this allowed us to stay in touch while also relaxing in our own personal way. My other friend is currently working on his doctorate at Loyola University Chicago. This means that his schedule is even more chaotic than mine. To try and have conversations with him is nearly impossible. To resolve this, our conversations developed via email and were directed towards helping each other with our career goals. We did this by sending each other journal articles that our universities did not have access to, we were able to interject how our lives were going in between research sessions and classes. While neither of these were optimal conversations, they allowed us to stay close, stay personable, but spend little time maintaining this closeness.

Another great outlet of connecting with friends has been professional development conferences. As I type this, I have reunited with a small handful of fellow RA’s that I met and shared amazing times with back at Western Illinois University. Even though we all have positions across the country which prohibit us from often meeting in public, these conferences allow us to combine work and pleasure as we reflected about our times together as undergraduates. This has been refreshing for my personal well-being, as it had been a long time since I was able to relate my amazing experiences and how they have helped drive me to where I am now.

Yet, while I have started to bring the close relationships from my past back into my life, I have unfortunately started to lose the ones that were my closest last year. Your graduate cohort sees you in the best of times and the worst of times, but once you graduate you need to remain committed to sharing experiences with them. I met some of the most amazing people throughout my graduate tenure, yet unfortunately I have talked to few of them since graduation—which in all honesty is pretty nice for some of those relationships. So now I find myself having to reunite with those that were closest to me less than a year ago. Whether it be through online mediums or a hockey game in Wisconsin, I feel obligated to stay in touch with those who helped me get through the craziness that was graduate school. They were all I had for a year of my life, and to let them become a distant memory is not healthy.

This constant balance can be hard. At each juncture of your life you meet people who change it for better or for worse. They motivate you, recognize you, and carry you on their back when you are down. And as you meet more and more people throughout your life, it is important that you recognize those important relationships around you. Your friends are some of the best capital you can ask for so be sure to recognize them today, because if you don’t how will they know?

Charle Cherry
@CharleCherry

Student Affairs - the First Years

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