Yesterday (a month ago..way longer now, it’s taken me quite a while to get my hands back on this thing), I declared candidacy for graduation in Spring 2016. WHUT. As I did so, I began to think about my college career, all the wonderful things that I have found at UCSB, the people that i’ve met who have filled my years.
The friendships I have made at UCSB are something I never thought I would have, but they are my greatest treasure and I am so grateful for them every day. When I was younger, I could say I had a lot of friends, but I kept a small number close to me. I saw people around me betray each other all the time, and I never knew who to let close enough. Despite being nervous about who to let in, I thrived off of the relationships I did have. I had this desire to share myself with others, but I had no idea the way in which this desire for community was a God-given desire and need.
As time passed and I went from school to school, I continued to make friends everywhere. Friends on my sports teams, friends in my clubs, friends in class, friends I did class work with. Although having friendships was great, I constantly found myself seeking for my worth in those relationships. I placed my value in the way people viewed me, and being included. I had a fear of being left behind, and I wanted to be needed. I wanted to be picked first, I wanted to make sure my best friend liked me more than her other friends, and I was afraid of being neglected.
These fears constantly grew as I let what I was be dictated by those around me. I was involved in youth group, it was great, and I was surrounded by people pursing God, and I completely believe in Him, but I didn’t have my own personal relationship with Him. I just wanted to do what they did just to make sure I was invited. This influence was still positive when I was around my youth group, but it became destructive when it came to trying to fit in with my friends at school. I didn’t have some huge life crisis, but I slowly lost who I was and so much of the good that I held to for so long, because I wanted to make sure I was included when it came to the friend group that I was around, I was tired of being my clueless self and sitting on the outside. I wanted to be invited to all of the parties, even though I didn’t drink – I just wanted to know that I was thought of. I probably would have done anything (within reason) to make sure I was. In high school cheer, one of those things became gossip. It was the conversation, so I engaged with the first person who seemed to invite me into it – even though I didn’t have much to say, I threw out the first stupid thing that came to mind – because it was what everyone did and I finally had found my way in. I ended up finding myself shut out from some of my friends after this incident, because if you know me, I really didn’t and still don’t know how to be slick…or gossip at all so someone right behind me heard it. What I did because I felt like I had been included in the conversation, ended up excluding me for a while. I was willing to take my chances at ridiculous high school gossip because I rooted myself so deeply in the people around me, and the idea who was around me.
Everything changed when I got to college and tried so desperately to hold on to the one thing I knew was true and good in my life – my faith. I was doing it alone for a year, and after a year of sitting at mass alone, I re-met the person that is now one of my best friends, Ally. She invited me to bible study (I had no idea what this was) and over time, I met even more wonderful friends. I felt okay and being myself – and I did not root myself in them, because through their example I learned to root myself in Christ, who I knew loved me so infinitely. We were, and are all anchored to the same thing. Yet, we are all so different. Somehow, it works. I believe it works because although we run different ways, we run in the same direction.
The friends I met, are the greatest friends i’ve ever had – who are they? (pause: this isn’t some magical story, of course. Despite having such wonderful friends now, they also weren’t all terrible before. But, I am still constantly working to root out all the things I let in-in high school, and I am not alone)
The greatest friends I’ve ever had are not the friends I can party with…..OR ARE THEY? THEY ARE! My first college party with my other college friends was quite the experience, I was tired of being uninvited as per usual, and so I hung around them as they drank in their rooms and rejoiced in the fact that their ability to form memories was becoming impaired. As soon as you started forgetting, it was working. But now,
Our college parties are a little different, we drink (being 21) but i’ve seen something I never really saw before. I have seen a spirit of self control, and friends who truly look out for each other, soul and body. It was also A LOT of fun.
And aside from the regular party games…
We braid each other’s hair….
SNUGGLE ON A BEAR
dance with blankets…?
and it usually ends with the regular IV food, or maybe even sitting around the floor with a re-heated pan of pasta from a Church dinner, a fork in each person’s hand, and some good old conversations on how we can love our friends and peers better, and how we can follow Christ more closely – at 3am of course.
We very much enjoy snapchat filters, but more than that, we can be the complete freaks that we are – and be confident in the fact that we will always love each other. And loving and supporting each other does not mean simply going along with everything the other does in our friendships. The greatest friends i’ve ever had are quite the riot, but they are also the people that challenge me the most. These friends are not simply friends that I can enjoy myself with, but they are virtuous friends, they are friends that I can trust to help me grow as a person and as a child of God. They steer me away from the gossip I once fell into and walk with me as we try to lift others up. They are friends who will not hesitate to tell me that I am wrong, because we have learned to place each other above our own pride and comfort.
after the occasional (99%) banter, of course.
We do however, help each other study.
We get to adventure together, serve together, love together.
Go to concerts.
Make mass orders for free shipping.
They humor you and your 4 year long desire to have a Christmas tree in your room, only to show up at the tree lot and realize that it’s November and although you have begun to prepare, the Christmas tree shops are definitely not ready for you.
The greatest friends I have are kind, loving, talented, and patient. They will join you on a Sunday afternoon to read and pray in the park, or watch another’s award winning flute performance in a music concert.
We play volleyball.
Take the scenic route. Stop on the side of the road to enjoy the view, maybe go on a hike, stop by a nearby Church on the way back to find that there is a wedding about to take place and decide to wait in the parking lot, looking like complete scrubs, in order to see the bride arrive.
We can pray together. Rosary walks, bible study, discipleship, praise and worship, chapel time, etc. Nothing has meant more to me than having friends to share a 2am holy hour with in the middle of a sleepover/slumbie (maybe, sometimes it becomes the sleepover). We know not only to lean on each other, but on the one who loves us ever more deeply than we could each other.
When I said pray together, I meant ALL THE TIME because the odds of you getting the chapel to yourself even at 10pm are 1 in 1000000.
Bible studies continue with the lights out.
And no matter where we are, there will always be the one thing that unites us all.
And FaceTime, duh.
We can also whip together. On retreat. Followed by a campfire riff off with a mix of country music, rap, hip-hop, and the never failing praise and worship music because although we are so different, we will always have Matt Maher and that gather book music.
Can’t forget the food and the post bible study mac n cheese after dark.
We celebrate each other.
We stick together when we are outnumbered in a South Dakota wedding.
As much as we value each other, we stand together and encourage each other to value and support all those around us.
We can spend a whole day at disneyland and not want to kill each other.
And there is need to worry about being left out, Ameerah will photoshop you right in.
This is probably absurdly long, but the greatest friends i’ve ever had are the friends who strive with me. The ultimate #squadgoal is sainthood, and they encourage me to be who I was created to be.
Shoutout to you all, because a couple of months ago, as I found myself at USC listening to Audrey Assad sing live and saw college students and missionaries praying to my left and right, I could not be more astounded at the way that Jesus has wrecked and restored my life. He has placed me on solid ground and shown me the faithful friends who are truly my sturdy shelter.
“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”