Finding Friends at Your Own Pace

Finding Friends at Your Own Pace

Everyone remembers that first day, high-school-era anxiety of looking around a crowded room and feeling like you have to choose your friends for the next four years in the next four seconds. You feel like your whole life is riding on this decision, like it’s going to make or break your whole high school experience. You might get that same feeling on your first day of The Washington Center orientation. For some people, it’s true - and for others, it’s not.

I know a lot of people who met their friend or group of friends in the first twenty-four hours. For a while, I expected to do the same. I tried to cling to the same people I sat by for the first event, or the people I knew from my LEAD Small Group or Professional Track. It worked fine for the first few days, but once our internships started up and things got busy, it was a whole different story.

As work schedules and additional programming began to take over my life as well as everyone else’s, I began to drift away from the initial people I had met in the first week. We would still say hello and chat when we saw each other, but nothing more. For a while, I wondered if maybe I was doing the whole ‘friendship’ thing wrong by failing to be outgoing or social enough.

Now, however, I’ve realized that I was just overlooking a simple truth: friendships take time. For some people, friendship at first sight is an unrealistic expectation. If you’re like me, it’s easy to look at Instagram posts of #squadgoals on Friday nights and think that maybe you’re just missing something. In reality, some people just take more time to find friends than others.

It hasn’t really been until the last few weeks that I started finding people that I’m comfortable hanging out with and feel like I’ve formed lasting relationships with. My suitemate and I spent most of the first few months hardly seeing each other, but have spent the last few weeks going out to brunch and exploring the monuments together every weekend.

The time spent here in Washington D.C. goes fast, and it’s shorter than it seems at the beginning. Expecting to make friends instantly might work for some, but if that’s not you, take your time. It wasn’t me, and while I’m sometimes slower to form connections and reach out, that doesn’t make my connections any less worthwhile.

Just as importantly, I’ve learned to treasure my friendships back home even more. One of my friends took a 20-hour bus ride to see me, and others have sent care packages and called often to remind me that they’re missing me. I’ve even connected with some friends in D.C. that I might not have reached out to if I’d locked into my ‘friend group’ earlier. Although it can feel like going against the flow to take your time, sometimes it’s really just getting to the same end point by taking your own route to the finish line.


High School Friend

Reconnecting with an old high school friend in D.C. for a Friendsgiving


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