Saying a Thousand Goodbyes in University

By Anna Tan

Many have expressed the sentiment that during your prime years, which are the years you spend schooling, you’re supposed to be making new friends.

This, of course, makes a lot of sense. It’s much easier to form a connection with someone you share immediate surface level similarities with, like having similar class schedules or over course work.  

I’ve found that university has had a greater influx of people entering my life than any previous stage of life I’ve experienced. As I finish my second year at university, the rapid-running cycle of people coming into your life and then leaving has become much more apparent to me. As someone who has always been more apprehensive about meeting people, maybe I find solace in that cycle. One can point to the lack of a meaningful relationships, which makes the ending of that relationship less sad. But I’d be lying if I said that the death of these many acquaintanceships hasn’t had its impact. 

I have been meeting over ten new people every semester. We would work together, then, in four months’ time, we would say our goodbyes as the semester comes to a close. Given the roll out of the Interdisciplinary Collaborative Core (ICC) modules, I have even gotten to work with people outside of my course, which I wouldn’t normally have the chance of doing. You inevitably form a connection with the people you work with because of the heavy focus on group projects. And having to endure certain hardships together while working together towards a common goal is always a great opportunity to bond. But ultimately, it still is a surface-level connection.

Credit: John Schnobrich | Unsplash

The more people you meet, the more your growing list of acquaintances that never amount to anything more expands. The so-called low-level acquaintanceships that neither party decides to devote time towards slowly fade away.  

I’m sure that many of us are guilty of perpetuating this quick acquaintanceship cycle. After all, it isn’t easy to maintain contact when your schedules and routines no longer align. It’s much easier to keep people who fit into your schedules in your life. The reason is simple – the more I see someone, the more I’ll get to know someone. If we never even have the opportunity to interact with each other in the first place, at some point, due to a lack of effort, people will just fizzle out of your life. 

Long story short, I’ve met a lot of people, but I don’t really know them. So, what should I do about this? 

I’d say that it is interesting to think of making new friends as an art form. You have to be willing to open up and and talk to people. Oftentimes, it comes naturally, other times maybe not as much. It does make the handful of people you end up forming a meaningful connection with even more special.  

When you come into contact with so many people every day, it can be exhausting to feel the need to build a relationship with every single person. Not many people are willing to invest their time in getting to know everyone they cross paths with. And eventually, these people just become background characters in our lives. Maybe you don’t even think about them anymore. So, it just becomes easier to let that acquaintanceship die.

Credit: Dylan Gillis | Unsplash

I admit that sometimes you encounter people you’re just not that fond of. But what about the people you do? The acquaintances you’ve made could have had the potential to become a real friend, but they eventually fall into being a part of the same quick acquaintanceship cycle.  

I’ve definitely known some friends who have not had the best experiences working in group projects. But, in my case, some of these people have made my day, made me laugh, given me a story to tell. I guess we have the power to dictate what these entrances into our life can end up being.  

Such experiences make me treasure the close friendships I’ve made amongst the many failed acquaintanceships. I guess there is some truth in never knowing who you’re going to meet, and how they might change your life.

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