Before I packed up my bags and moved everything I owned to an out-of-state college, I made a pact with my childhood friends that we would never, ever fall out of touch. For the first time in our lives we’d live farther than 10 minutes apart, but we swore up and down that it wouldn’t affect our friendships. Between college courses, new social circles, and busy schedules, this wasn’t always the easiest promise to keep– but let me tell you, it was worth it.
There are certain things that are better off left in high school. (For me, those things included fighting over boys, denim mini skirts, and posting emotional song lyrics as my Facebook status.) But high school friends? Those should come into the real world with you. I know it may seem like floating apart is inevitable, but there are a few special reasons to keep your oldest friends in your life whenever possible.
They helped you become the person you are today.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”? I realized how true this was when I moved to college and found myself analyzing my mannerisms and catchphrases through the eyes of strangers. Not only had these superficial quirks rubbed off on me, but I realized how much those people had helped me grow up. I was only ready for the big next chapter because they helped me get there.
I won’t be naïve and pretend like high school friendships are always rainbows and butterflies, but even the fights and disagreements benefitted me in the long run. I learned how resilient true friendships are, I learned how to reconcile, I learned how to pick my battles, and I learned how to be a better friend. And trust me, those are skills you’ll need in college and far beyond. How can you ever walk away from friends who have given you all of this?
They know (and love!) your crazy family.
One of the strangest aspects of college friendships – for me at least – was the fact that they didn’t know my family. They’d never ever seen my mom dance in the middle of the grocery store whenever a good song came on, they never rode in the backseat of my dad’s car as he taught me to drive, and they were never (lovingly) insulted by my older brother. Every family has their quirks, and your childhood friends are the people who know and love them.
You’ll undoubtedly meet wonderful friends, but they’d likely never know your family like your childhood friends do. And, in my opinion, knowing your family is a big part of knowing you.
They’ll always have your back.
I may not always agree with everything my best friend says and does, but you better believe I’ll defend her with everything I’ve got. And it’s mutual. We may not live down the street from each other anymore, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t dropping everything the moment we’re needed. In many ways, our childhood friends are like family – which also means they’re our fiercest protectors and most loyal supporters.
The friends you’ve grown up with have seen you at your best and your worst. They’ve spent time with your family, they’ve watched you grow up, and you’ve spent years building a strong foundation together. This is a special bond, and one that’s worth preserving.
They will be your unbiased confidantes throughout college.
Adjusting to college comes with growing pains. Getting through college comes with growing pains. You’ll fight with friends, struggle with classes, and miss home. Having a close, long-term friend who is removed from your specific college circle is actually incredibly helpful. As much as I loved my college roommates, sometimes I needed to vent to someone who wasn’t directly involved in the situation. In return, I was an unbiased sounding board for my long-distance friends. Maintaining your friendships with your childhood friends – even if they’re miles away – can be extremely beneficial. I was often surprised how much our frequent phone calls and text exchanges helped me navigate my life states away.
The friends you grew up with know where you came from and helped get you where you’re going. It’s not always easy to maintain those friendships during your college years – in fact, sometimes it’s pretty dang hard – but they’re worth all of the extra effort.