It’s getting to the end of the year. For me, it’s the end of my first semester as a grad student. And, like everyone, I’ve gone through ups and downs. Right now I’m facing a somewhat “downer” period than usual. Some of it has to do with the end of the year. A lot has to do with saying goodbye to several friends I made this semester.
I haven’t always been the most comfortable person in social settings. Making friends in high school was pretty hard for me. College came slightly easier, but still I spent most of my time alone, without much of an inner circle.
During my first semester back, I met a lot of new people. Not just the ones in my program, but the students living in my apartment building who were part of a semester-long intern program. We hung out like best friends, even though we had all just met each other. We went out together and experienced the D.C. nightlife.
But more importantly I found myself bonding uniquely with this group of people. We forged friendships over late-night beers, D.C. sightseeing, and long, drawn out discussions on U.S. politics.
Early on I realized that, because of my two-year program, I would be one of the few students staying past a semester. But I never expected to acquire the strong friendships I have with the people around me. It feels very strange to think of them leaving. It also makes me sad.
It’s obviously very hard to say goodbye to someone you’ve formed a personal connection with. Humanity thrives on interpersonal relationships. Saying “bye” to an entire group is even tougher. It really won’t feel the same coming back, when everyone’s moved out. But there will be a new of group of students to meet and mingle with. Perhaps even start a few new friendships with.
Depression can feel like confusion at times when it hits you: pure and utter confusion. For me it was not knowing what comes next, once my friends leave. The time, however cherished, has passed swiftly like words on the wind. It almost feels like the end of something, rather than a transition.
When new friends come to occupy personal spaces you can hardly imagine the same spaces without them. Watching them go can leave you with a case of the downers. Even if you know you’ll be meeting “new” people soon enough. The only thought running rampant through your mind is watching the “old” ones go.
What I’ll remember the most, though, is what one of my friends told me: it’s not about the amount of time spent, but the bonds you form with people. A precious moment can come and go. But it’s still a precious moment, no less. Bonds are transcendental: something that lasts beyond borders. Again, I’m trying to avoid making some corny, cliche self-help post. But I really believe in the value of those words. New friends make new memories: memories you can keep with you. That’s a factor that far surpasses time and space.
The fact that I was able to make new friends, while going though periods of deep anxiety/depression is an accomplishment, even if I am sad now to see them leave. What this shows me is that there are other moments ahead. If I made friends once, I can do it again.
Adjusting to change is just the hard part.