In Chapel Hill, the most important period of the “friend-making year” has just begun with the start of the fall semester.
The end of summer and the beginning of the new school year bring plenty of exciting new prospects for relationships, and the market has never looked as good as it does this year.
Students of all ages around the University are meeting new people at parties, in the classroom and in their dorms.
Everyone is riding the wave of new possibilities for connection.
You should be too.
You’ll have plenty of time to seek out new people because, let’s face it, you probably won’t be able to find a job on campus this year.
But one thing you will be able to do is find plenty of potential friends.
They’re everywhere, and if you blink you could miss them.
Being open to making friends is important no matter how old you are or how many people you know.
Isn’t finding friends what college is actually about? In 50 years you won’t remember the grades you received or the college jobs you had, but the friends you make now will stick around forever.
Well, that might not be true.
In fact, if my experience is any guide, many friends you make in college will fade out of your life pretty quickly.
So what should you do about it?
Some people have a great solution — keeping up with every person they meet, no matter how minor.
But wait, you might respond, you as a college student have a lot of other things going on. You only have so much time to keep up with people, especially the ones who you don’t see all the time.
And that’s true. If you’re going to make it to class on time every day, you might very well be forced to skip lunch with your buddy from C-TOPS at least once.
Let’s look at it economically, and consider every friendship as a contract where you pay your time in exchange for the connection.
It might just be easier to make friends at a higher rate than you lose them. In the same sense that any business venture has unavoidable expenses, maybe we should just write off the friends we lose, and focus on making more.
On the other hand, you could consider the possible losses and decide to hang out with your usual crowd, to keep investing time in those people to deepen your relationships, and just let the might-have-been-friends pass you by.
Which course of action should you take?
If the choice is either writing people off who could be really important to you one day, or never being brave enough to branch out, that’s no choice at all.
There’s a balance to be struck. You don’t want to waste time on new people that won’t pan out, but you also don’t want to be bored on a Saturday night because the core group couldn’t make it out.
So you should definitely err on the side of making more friends, rather than less.
The more people you meet, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to flesh out that core group and expand your prospects for the next Saturday night.
Some people you meet won’t even remember your name the next day, while others will become your best friend almost immediately.
The “friendconomy” is hard to predict, and it changes rapidly.
But don’t let that intimidate you. As your relational adviser, I highly recommend you take advantage of this bubble and invest in a new friend today.