Growing Pains: Chapter 3- Magnets

I, along with anyone who has attended any university, know that the people you meet during that first week will not be amongst the faces you see when you walk down the aisle at your wedding. If you are lucky, you may see them in passing down the street, and if you are even luckier, a smile or familiar gaze may be exchanged between you two. Alas, if you are like the majority of us, these things won’t ever happen to you, and as sad as it may sound, it is simply one of many blips that occur in the journey that is college. In the first week of school, I found myself making introductions with anyone that would cross my path, regardless of our compatibility or even shared hobbies. “Oh you like Stephen King? I saw the trailer for It once!” I was securing companionships to avoid being lost and lonely in the sea of hundreds of unfamiliar faces filled with passion and strong opinions that made up Manhattan. All for the fruits of my labor to disappear within the next couple of days. 

Surrounded by so many people, how do you find the ones for you?

It was startling when the group chat of ten people I was in slowly fizzled out, and plans stopped being made. It was easy to spend hours dedicated to wondering what went wrong. How had I made and kept friends in all the years prior to this? Although college is a very unique experience, it is not alien to everything you have ever experienced before it. In high school, one is shoved into a cramped building with at least one hundred other students, in your graduating class alone, and something akin to natural selection takes place. You gravitate like magnets to those like yourself and befriend the faces you see every day. The remainder of those around you are plucked out from the social pool, and become mere backdrops to the place that becomes the center of your universe. Julie, who sits next to you in algebra every morning is more likely to become your friend than Alan, who is on the opposite side of the building taking science classes the same morning. Forced proximity breeds the most intimate of relationships, and psychology supports this. A Very Well Mind article states, “In social psychology, the proximity principle suggests that people closer together in a physical environment are more likely to form a relationship than those farther away. ”(Vinney) This boils down to the simple concept of convenience. It is far easier to reach out to the person you sit next to in your 8 am class than the person you met a week ago at some random event who lives in a dorm on the other side of campus. You have no motive to seek the latter individual out, not because of anything personal, but because you do not know them, thus making any efforts to go see them become tedious and unnecessary, and you eventually give up on any possible prospect of friendship. The same thing can occur even when you love someone, which is why many shy away from the idea of long-distance relationships. Closeness is crucial to most relationships, and when you have one that is burdened by physical distance, the main priority is usually to minimize that distance as soon as possible. This is how I realized I could not force a friendship with those who were slipping from my grasp.

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By Tiana Gregg

Tiana is a rising junior at NYU majoring in English and minoring in Art History. She spends her days reading, writing, listening to music, and indulging in just about every hobby (except sports!) you can think of to fill her time. You will never find her idling.

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