Now that you’re at UI, take time to branch out

By Tyler Panlilio, Opinions Editor

Coming from a graduating class of around 400 students — and about 60 of us attending the University — it was actually pretty odd how often I’d see a familiar face around campus. For some, it’s just a quick wave because they happened to be in Macroeconomics with me senior year. And for others, like my closest friends, it was so much more.

Naturally, I gravitated toward them for almost every social activity. For almost the entirety of my freshman year, I hung out with my close friends from high school. There were about five of us, and if you ever saw me in public that year, I’d almost always be with them. We’d go to late night at PAR together, study together and party together. I always felt comfortable with them because we were already close to begin with.

But there was one close friend who rarely came along to hang out with us, and it became pretty concerning for the rest of the group. He spent more time joining Registered Student Organizations and hanging out with new friends, and spent less time with his old pals from back home. It felt weird to know that this friend wasn’t as close with us as he was during our senior year of high school because, for me at least, I didn’t expect him to even consider putting us on the back burner.

Looking back on it, It’s kind of silly to think we were getting upset over his absence.

He’s not allowed to have fun unless he’s with us because we’re his real friends. We’re closer to him because we’ve known him since freshman year of high school. He didn’t want to spend the entire night with us so he’s a snake.

No, that’s wrong. I could honestly argue this friend wasn’t trying his best to make an effort to hang out with us; but even then, I still don’t think he’s to blame here. Just because a close friends starts spending time with other people doesn’t automatically mean they’re replacing you.

Let me make this clear: We were in the wrong here. Academics aside, isn’t that kind of the point of college, especially at this University? Who doesn’t want to meet new people and branch out?

You’re going to want to meet new people during your four years here. Some might be borderline crazy, others as quiet as a mouse. But trust me when I say this: You might start to like them exactly how they are.

Whatever the case, this isn’t a matter of finding new friends and getting rid of your old ones (unless you really want to). I still make an active effort to hang out with my old high school buds, or at least keep in touch with them, because I know I want them in my life. And if your friends from back home actually click together with your new friends from baking club, then it’s even better. If not, then it’s no big deal — there’s nothing wrong with having multiple friend groups, especially during these four years.

And it shouldn’t matter if your situation is completely different than mine. Whether your entire friend group is also attending the University or you’re the only person in your class who came here, make an effort to branch out. 

You should be uncomfortable during your first year here. Not to the point where it’s mentally exhausting, but enough to know you’ll probably be wholly different by the time you graduate. It may not seem like it, but attending a school like this really does change you. 

Sign up for some RSOs on Quad Day. Sit next to new people in lecture and talk to them. Make an effort to know the folks on your floor. You’ve got four years to do this — but honestly, it’ll go by faster than you’d ever expect it to.

Tyler is a junior in Media.

[email protected]