As a freshman in college, I am experiencing the small fish in big pond paradigm. Besides avoiding sharks in the shape of frat boys and piranhas in the form of remarkably coherent potheads, an age-old question remains: Will any of these damn fish be my friends?’ No one really knows you past your major and your hometown. But these six moments, both individually and combined, will stand out as amazing transitions between every passing acquaintance and a true friend.
1. When you get a nickname – Whether you like it or not, your given name does not cut it. This new name will never show up on the roster in Gen Chem or the whiteboard outside of your dorm room. Often embarrassing or downright mean, this name might be some odd variation on your real name or completely unrecognizable. Either way, you know this friendship will last.
2. When you can sit in silence with one another – The small talk is no longer necessary. You are now free to scarf down your bean burrito without polite intervals for conversation and a sunset provides enough of a reason to get together after a long, exhausting day.
3. When you start trading ugly Snapchats – A 21st century marker of intimacy. It’s blurry, unflattering and they set it for…7 seconds! More than enough time for you to screenshot and add to your ‘birthday collage’ collection.
4. When they start saying “You didn’t tell me that!” – If they haven’t heard about your sister-in-law going into labor, or the 92% you got on that Gen Chem midterm, they are offended. All life updates should be prompt.
5. When your mom asks about them – The two have met over Skype, or when you flew home for that long weekend. And ever since, your mom will undoubtedly ask about the boy she has been seeing, or that job interview she borrowed your flats for. Your mom can always sniff out people’s intentions, and her seal of approval means they are a winner.
6. When they say “I’m glad we’re friends” – The more vocal friends will say this verbatim, and it will feel quite amazing. Others will look at you with a smirk, and shake their head after hearing you tell the same joke for the third time. You’ll ask “What?” and they will say “Nothing”
If you recognize any of these moments, you may have a new best friend on your hands. It’s real. This is not a one-way street – It’s a two way arterial — fast moving and chaotic, but more interesting that those residential ones you practiced on. They care about you and that’s an amazing feeling.
I am happy to report that all six of these things have happened to me this year. I have found a couple of great friends who I never would have picked out of the crowd. For someone who doesn’t feel like she makes friends very easily or quickly, this has felt like an amazing triumph. If you feel the same way, take comfort: As you grow, the pond gets smaller and smaller.