We learn to disguise our insecurities in the butt of self-deprecating jokes that we throw out to the mercy of others, hoping that they laugh with us instead of at us and maybe consider us humble and endearing. In the process of learning how to analyze our own characteristics, we inevitably transfer that skill when meeting others. As we grow older, we grow more critical of ourselves, our friends and family; we abandon those who we believe are not good influences on us instead of training our minds to recognize the strengths in people and accept their weaknesses just as we accept our own. Here are the five toxic friends that you will meet when you are in college; they’ll change you for better and for worse:
1. The overly competitive asshole: This person will drive you insane. You won’t feel comfortable studying with them or going to the gym with them because they will turn everything into a competition and they will beat you every time. They seem perfect on the exterior, which is what attracted you to them in the first place. They are well-rounded: smart, athletic, ambitious and on top of that they are always well dressed. These people will show you that success if measured in a myriad of ways. Although, yes, being the best is self-gratifying you will learn from them that you can not always judge someone for their achievements and their work ethic. Their overzealous attitude will exhaust you and you’ll learn to detest them. Instead of loathing them you should learn from them. These people will teach the importance of claiming your friends by who they are, not what they are and how much they have achieved. These people will teach you that being the best does not necessarily mean you have the highest grade, or the fastest mile but that you genuinely try at everything you do; and you’re gracious when people beat you and even more importantly, you’re gracious when people lose to you.
2. The party girl: You knew this was coming. We all meet someone in college who loves to party. These people may or may not be fully functioning members of society, but you sure as hell are not fully functioning after spending a weekend with them. They’ll teach you balance, they will teach you to question your behaviors and most importantly: they will teach you that the significant people in your life make sure you get home okay and call you the next morning to see how you’re feeling. In spending time with these people, you will wonder why they go out so much — what compels them to endure the hangovers, and acquire debt from their countless vodka tonics that they’re charging to their parents emergency credit card? Sometimes they will laugh and explain that you’re only in college once and now is your time to do whatever you want. Other times, you will look at them from across the table of the diner that you hobbled into at 1pm to nurse your hangover with the help of pancakes and you will see a person who is in need. You’ll see a friend who is horrified of graduation because they are unsure of where their place in the world is, a friend that constantly compares themselves to others to find that they never measure up and a friend that drinks so excessively until their physical vision of the world matches that of their vision of themselves: fuzzy and unclear. This person is going to help you recognize how running away from your problems only creates more, and hopefully, in turn, you will help them recognize the same.
3. The Sob Story: You will inevitably meet someone in college who you will go through a few different phases with. First you will pity them, then you will doubt their ability to tell the truth and after that, you will just find them annoying as their constantly asking you for inconvenient favors and following those requests with long, convoluted stories of how why they didn’t come to class or couldn’t study for the test. These people will tell you that their car broke down, their cat is sick, they will tell you stories of how they were in the hospital for two days with pneumonia and miraculously recovered. You will often find yourself wondering whether or not they are lying, or if they are, in fact, one of the unluckiest people on earth. In the heart of any lie is someone asking for you to think highly of them, or not to judge them or that person is crying out desperately looking for empathy, because they just want to connect with you. The truth is, it is not always within your power or worth the effort to discern whether or not you are being lied to. In the event that they are lying, it does not change the fact that they desperately need someone to listen to them and that someone in this case is you. These people will teach you to not overanalyze everything, but to instead just see a person in front of you. A person with a problem that needs help. The key to helping someone does not necessarily lie in providing that person with a profound solution to every issue they divulge but instead just being a good listener. These people will teach you that no matter how busy your hectic life becomes, you should never deny a friend the time to just listen to them. For five minutes, for ten minutes or for an hour, take time to just listen to people. You will learn so much. But you should never help someone at your own expense. The most important voice that you need to hear is your own.
4. The basic bitch: You have had the same conversation with this girl more times than you believe she can count. She seems shallow because she only likes to talk about other people. She will make a comment when someone in your class gains five pounds. She might call them a heifer and you will want to put her in your place, but you won’t; instead you will laugh and continue this ongoing contest of criticism between the two of you to see which one of you can make the meanest but seemingly funniest comment about your classmates. Hopefully this person will teach you to stand up for what is right, to teach you that you have a voice and if you do not like the current situation that you can change it. Upon learning the power of your own voice, you may tell this friend that you don’t really like gossiping and that it makes you feel dirty. Your friend will hopefully reply “neither do I”. This person will teach you that people are reparable to change. This person will teach that there is nothing positive to be had in saying negative things about other people. She will teach you to be resistant to assimilation; to never fall down the rabbit hole into the hell that is drugs, lying, stealing or cheating. Hopefully, this person will teach you to remain yourself no matter who you are with and to never compromise your morals.
5. The best friend who let you down Hopefully you meet you will meet a person in college who has all the credentials to be considered in the “best friend tier.” This person brings out the best in you. They are the type of friend that you once believed to be a figure of imagination, only to live in the minds of the writers of Sex and the City. One day this person might disappoint you, for a significant other or for another friend, for drugs or drinking. You may find that one day this person has changed so much that you can barely recognize them. And that is okay. Personality is fluid and people change, and you should let them. You are going to have a friend that lets you down and that could just mean that they are busy trying something new or they no longer want to be viewed in the way that you view them. Take this as a reminder that you too should try new things. That you should never get so comfortable with any routine, person or lifestyle that if something suddenly taken from you, you find yourself rendered useless. This person will teach you that above all you should depend on yourself. You will receive poor grades, get broken up with or just feel miserable and there is no greater feeling that knowing that you can be resilient, on your own. This person will teach you to be forgiving. They will make mistakes. Negative memories are so much easier to cling to than positive memories. More importantly, this person will teach you to forgive yourself; because you will make mistakes in your relationships and in life that you may hate yourself for. But you can’t change them, you can only learn and grow. And if you’re lucky, no matter where your friends are in life, no matter how different you all are, you will be there for one another.