Living in a dorm last year was the most social experience I have ever had. I was constantly surrounded by people, and I could hang out with friends any time I wanted because they were just down the hall. Group gatherings in the dining hall, late night movie marathons and study sessions were the defining memories of my freshman year in college. This year, I’m living in an apartment with my three best friends, but while we were eager to escape the communal bathrooms and close quarters that dorm life provided, communicating with people outside of my own home has become incredibly difficult to manage.
Last week, I meant to have coffee with a friend, and I unintentionally stood him up. Having slept in too late, I was instead frantically running around trying to get my school books and homework together. A simple reminder on my phone or an extra alarm would have saved me from the awkward text I sent him apologizing for leaving him hanging.
My life has become a whirlwind of tight scheduling and scrambling to stay on top of my schoolwork. Unfortunately, that means my friendships could suffer due to my business, so making a conscious effort to spend time with my friends has gone to the top of my to-do list. To avoid missing out on chances to catch up with people I love, I plan to share some dinners and lunches with them each week.
Some people may wonder why I am so focused on social engagements instead of simply pushing them to the side and focusing on school, which is what we’re expected to do. For me, the only times I feel truly relaxed and comfortable are when I’m spending time with people I care about, laughing and talking about life. I can blow off steam exercising or watching Netflix, but at the end of the day my mind always wanders back to work and my responsibilities. Friends and loved ones completely distract me from whatever is happening in my life, and so to me, keeping up with friends is the most important part of my life.
Whether it is taking a few moments out of a day to grab lunch and catch up with a friend or planning a time when the whole squad can get together and hang, making time for interpersonal relationships can make a difference in the outcome of your day.
It’s all about finding that elusive balance in daily life, and for each person, the balance is different. I am an inherently social being, I thrive in situations when I’m surrounded by other people. My roommate is the complete opposite. As much as she likes hanging with friends, she feels most calm when she’s alone in her room. Everyone needs a certain level of social interaction to make them whole. The threshold for each person varies, but the basic need is still there.
The way I look at it is like baking cookies: you need proper measurements of each ingredient in order for the recipe to turn out the way it’s supposed to. If you don’t have enough of any ingredient, your cookies don’t taste right. Think of friends as the sugar in your life, a small part of the whole recipe, but without them, your life won’t be as sweet as it’s supposed to be.