Hiredesai: A Reflection on Friendship

Annika Hiredesai, Columnist

When I think about my high school friendships, most of those relationships revolved around taking the same classes, playing the same sport or joining the same student groups. I loved how full of people that part of my life was. When high school ended, however, friendships built on a shared time and place didn’t last, at least not on their own.

I’m writing this two years into college, and while these more situational friendships are an important part of my life, they aren’t the ones that are the most fulfilling. My closest friends don’t necessarily share my interests, take the same classes, or have the same hobbies. Instead, we connect over shared purpose.

Two of the most important people in my life are my best friends from home. Because of the distance and our busy schedules, we don’t get to connect as often as we’d like. That being said, I like to think that what we lack in frequency, we more than make up for in intentionality. We often joke that our catch-up calls start off with life updates but always end on a reflective note. What does this mean for your aspirations? How are your values changing? How can we support you? That’s not to say that all of our conversations are about the big questions, but they are a meaningful part of our dynamic. It’s this investment in one another’s fulfillment that allows our friendship to thrive even when we’re apart.

I’m fortunate to have already sustained a long-distance friendship pre-pandemic because, in the past year, distance between all friends has been amplified. All of a sudden, there are very few shared routines we can rely on to stay connected. The loss of lunches before afternoon classes and walks back home together have taken their toll on social connection. Reaching out takes more intention than ever before, and it’s hard to put in the effort when we’re all so drained. After a long day of classes and meetings, sometimes the last thing I want to do is look at another screen, even when it’s a friend on the other side.

The increasing costs to maintain a relationship have certainly led many connections to fade away. Something I’ve had to learn to accept, particularly over the past year, is that as much as I love feeling connected to lots of people, most friendships don’t last or deepen. Sometimes people outgrow you, and sometimes you outgrow them. Maybe the shared sense of camaraderie wasn’t meant to be more than that moment in time. It doesn’t even particularly matter how it happens. There is no loss without some pain, some regret, over what may have been.

As difficult as those feelings are, they are not worth dwelling over. Sometimes I think we forget just how young we are and how many incredible people we haven’t met yet. The past isn’t worth chasing when you can devote that energy to forging new friendships and strengthening existing connections. I’m profoundly grateful for the friends who challenge and inspire me, and I look forward to meeting those to come.

Annika Hiredesai is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.