October is labeled in my google calendar as Friendship Month. I’m writing this sitting across from my best friend, who won’t know I’m writing about her until this draft becomes an official post or when a snippet of my writing gets posted on social media. Why Friendship Month? Let me explain.
My first few days of freshman year consisted of me convincing myself I wouldn’t make any friends. I couldn’t seem to make lasting interactions with the strangers in my class, and my roommates hit it off so well it was like hanging out with two people you just met who have known each other their whole lives. This lasted for about a month.
It was hard feeling like that. Admittedly, I am a generally anxious person and I know a lot of people can relate to the difficulty of introducing yourself to new people. What was my response to this struggle you ask? I forced myself to attend a committee road trip to Oregon. I knew a grand total of 1 whole person on that trip, and there were about 30 people on the sign up sheet. But I paid the admission fee and hopped in a car with 3 seniors and another freshman who was working on a class project the entire drive. I can tell you, never in my life have I been more intimidated. Oregon is an eight hour journey north, so I braced myself for the worst most awkward trip of my life. Instead, I found myself berated with questions about why I chose Cal, where I was from, what my life was like before college, why I decided to road trip with a bunch of strangers, these scary seniors were interested in what I had to say, they were my first real friends.
It was at the Oregon Cal football game that I really got to know this best friend sitting across from me. I had briefly met her at a pervious football related event, but it was on this trip that we truly bonded. To be honest, I barely remember what we ended up doing together but what I do remember was how much fun it was to be around her. From watching the game together to the car ride back to the Air bnb, I was just so happy to be there. Little did I know that those silly moments we spent together were about to be the foundations of the greatest friendship I’ve ever had.
For the remainder of October, I ended up spending way too much time with both the freshman I met in Oregon and the seniors who drove me in and out of the state of California. During the power outages, I would go over to the seniors’ house to play Mario Kart and then study with the freshman at night. I had blossomed into this social butterfly that was interreacting with whoever was within reach distance. October gave me Freshman Bonding, where the new members of the Rally Committee would hang out together, getting to know one another and building a community within a community that we all cling to. October introduced me to a now graduated Cal Alumni who encouraged me to become a campus ambassador and still comes to visit me once a month. October gave me the best friends in the entire world.
Last year, on Halloween, I sat down in a McDonalds booth at 11 o’clock, sweaty from dancing to Rocky Horror for 2 hours and surrounded by those I worked so hard to build lasting friendships with. I don’t think McDonalds is exactly an emotional place for most people, but I will ever forget how happy I was in that moment. It’s embarrassing to admit, but every time I see that b building on the corner of Shattuck and University, I get all sentimental thinking about how the culmination of me leaping outside of my comfort zone and talking to people I admired ended up with me eating french fries with those same people.
And now we’re here. Paulina hasn’t notice me stealing glances at her as I write this only a few feet away. Nathan and Joey don’t know how much that McDonalds means to me. Dean, Alexa, and Kevin have all graduated and they don’t even know that they’re the reason I’ve made so many great new friends. Here’s the cheesy ending that is hard to admit but is true none the less: you never know how a relationship will turn out. Is it hard to branch out and talk to strangers in hopes of becoming friends? Absolutely it is! I miss the elementary school days when you could just ask someone to be your pal and they would say yes. But, building a community of love and support for yourself is so so so important, and that feeling you get when you realize you’ve accomplished that is unmatched.