Pollick: Keep in touch with your friends

Pollick: Keep in touch with your friends

Thomas Pollick, Columnist

An article in The Guardian last year described the observations made by a palliative nurse — a nurse who consoles the dying — named Bronnie Ware. The article included Ware’s list of the most common regrets people had during their final days, a time during which people gain an exceptional sense of clarity. One of the top five was wishing to have stayed in touch with friends.

The article was very insightful and provided an interesting perspective on life. People often don’t keep in touch with friends as much as they should. It’s not that the friendships aren’t valued, but that people become too occupied with other things to give friendships the time and effort they deserve.

It’s a pattern I notice at times in my own life, especially when it comes to keeping in contact with my friends from high school. Although we are able to see each other often during breaks, communication during the school year can easily become sparse, as we become occupied with school and activities. However, when I do receive a text from a close high school friend, it can make my day.

It’s a pattern I also notice, perhaps more embarrassingly, with my friends on campus, who all live less than 10 minutes walking distance from my apartment. Even with my best friends on campus, I sometimes find myself going weeks without seeing them or having a conversation with them. These weeks without interaction are usually the weeks when I have the most amounts of work and stress and are when I need my friends the most.

However, we live in a culture where this pattern of behavior is extremely common. I am not the only one that does this. I see it all around me at Northwestern — students are too busy to hang out with friends or make time for a lunch date. The words “sorry, I’m busy” are used all too frequently and are the go-to excuse when breaking off plans with friends.

At NU, we say that we’re busy so often that we convince ourselves we’re busier than we really are. We say we’re busy so often that we convince ourselves we have time for nothing but school and extracurriculars, and we plan and live out our days accordingly.

Recently the NU community has been shaken by two more suicides. These tragedies have sparked a lot of thought and discussion throughout the school, causing many of us to take a second look at our values and the way we live our lives on a day-to-day basis. They have also reminded me of something a friend said to me the summer after my senior year of high school. My community back home was struck hard after a few students had committed suicide within a few months of each other. My friend and I were discussing these events when she mentioned how one of the suicides involved a classmate of hers who was very well-liked. “It’s interesting how people can feel so alone,” she said, “but be surrounded by people that love them so much.”

After the suicides both on campus and back home, each community came together to express its grief and love for those who had passed and its support for their families. Although it’s wonderful that people can come together in the event of someone’s death, it’s also unfortunate that we often hold off expressing ourselves until it’s too late.

Here at NU, a stressful and competitive environment, we need to remind each other we are not alone. Being “busy” is never a reason to hold off keeping in touch with the people we care about the most. You are never too busy to find time during the day to make a five-minute phone call. You are never too busy to text “how’s it going?” to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. These are the simple interactions that will brighten your day and will make our community a better place to live.

Thomas Pollick is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].