How to Make Good Friends in College
~Originally written for Every Nation Campus Philadelphia~
Have you ever heard the saying “you are the company you keep”? What about “birds of a feather flock together”? Well, both of those phrases are referring to the fact that we become like our friends, and we usually find them based on similarities.
If you are reading this, I suppose you have a desire to have quality friends during your college years and I certainly commend you for that. Many people are not very intentional about whom they call “friend”, and that has the potential to become very problematic. Friendship is beautiful and when we pursue our friends with purpose, friendship can enhance our lives in ways we never thought possible.
C.S Lewis said “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” This is a spot on definition of what friendship is, but it also gives support to the assertion that friendship is something to be taken seriously. We do not need friends to survive (thinking practically here); if we are going to take the time to add something unnecessary for our survival, we should take it seriously. I could sit in a room with food and water for my entire life and remain alive, but would I be fulfilled?
We are relational beings and we are created not only for vertical relationship with the Father, but we are created for horizontal relationship with our fellow men. In my nearly twenty-two years of life, I’ve learned a few things about pursuit of friendship and the purpose of this post is to share them with you.
1. Be conscious of where you are finding your friends.
Sometimes we enter into friendship with people because of reasons that don’t support what we want from them. If I become friends with someone because he or she is my neighbor, that doesn’t tell me much about who this person is or what they do or don’t believe. Although friendships caused by proximity can blossom into amazing things, remember that your main reasoning for that friendship was not because of how much like you this person is or how you share similar beliefs, but because of proximity.
If you want friends who skateboard, maybe go to the skate park. If you want Christian friends, try joining Christian organizations or attending church services. If you want friends who care about the social justice issues that you care about, try attending events or lectures about that topic. Remember “birds of a feather flock together”? People who are alike will be found together doing the same things.
2. Be the best friend that you can be.
Making and keeping good friends is not just about finding people who are good for you, but also about being a person who is good to other people. Be introspective and unpack the pieces of you that could be made better and would add to your friendships. Interpersonal relationships require both people to work at them. When you make a new friend, be conscious of that person’s needs and try your hardest to be flexible. Remember what it truly means to love a person and endure hardship; friendship is not always easy. When I think of my best friends in life; these five women have seen me at my best and worst. We have been through trials and tribulations. People have moved away and at times it felt like our friendship was hanging on by a thread, but prayer, love and understanding helped us to bear up under everything and remain.
3. Be selective and content.
This is the big one. NOT EVERYONE CAN BE YOUR FRIEND. As much as we want everyone to love us and want us, friendship is a privilege and not everyone deserves it. Guard your heart and don’t be quick to let everyone in. Although we are called to love everyone and think the best of everyone, have patience when entertaining new relationships and believe that the ones that don’t blossom into legitimate friendships didn’t do so for good reason. Know yourself and trust yourself; as you gain an understanding of what it is to be a friend and what it means to have friends, you have to trust that you will be able to make good decisions for yourself. It can be extremely hard to think the best of ourselves sometimes, and feel that failed relationships or ones that “just didn’t work out” were due to mistakes on our part, but sometimes, not fighting for something that doesn’t belong is the best decision you can make. Not every friendship is a lifelong friendship. Not every friendship is a deep, lay down your life, Jesus and disciples friendship. Some friendships are seasonal, some friendship are just for that one semester that you have class together. You will find the lifelong ones. Be okay when you realize that something was not meant to last for life.
I know that these are huge points, but I believe that these are the most important things that I have learned in friendship. Be intentional about friends. Be a friend, and be selective when choosing and be content with who you’ve chosen. It’s not a race to have the most friends; this is not MySpace circa 2007. This is real life and we have to live accordingly.