This whole being-the-new-kid thing is kind of strange. It’s like being a freshman all over again. But the thing is, I never had a quote-unquote normal freshman experience. You know, the scene out of a movie where a kid gets dropped off at college, moves into his dorm, and meets his random roommate and he doesn’t know anyone and has to fend for himself? Yeah, that didn’t happen to me. Because of this girl:
Bailey and I decided to room together on April Fools Day of our senior year. (Really, Bailey coerced me into living with her. No joke.) Btdubs, happy belated roomie anniversary, Bailey!!! We’d known each other since the beginning of middle school and had become good friends through our church our last two years of high school.
It was really nice going into such a new (and BIG) environment already knowing someone, having someone to check in with every day and have RENT sing-a-longs wth and sit with at football games. It was especially nice the first few weeks. I distinctly remember, after UT’s first home game, from which we left early because we were demolishing the Little Sisters of the Poor or whomever we were playing, suddenly realizing that we didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to go. Because we didn’t know anyone. So we just had some frozen yogurt together and went to her sister’s apartment to play Apples to Apples. Yes, we do go to America’s #1 party school. Ha.
Now I’m going through all that again, except I don’t have a roommate, and I don’t really know anyone here. So I’m having to re-learn the Natural Progression of making friends.
Freshman year, I moved into the dorm a few days before Bailey did. One of our suitemates had also moved in early, so the first night I was there, she invited me over to her room and we chatted over pizza. About lots of things–how her week was going with rush, our mutual love for The Office, and our respective roommates, since we each were rooming with a friend from home. That was pretty nice. I liked her, and we had a lot in common, and I figured we would be pretty good friends.
But here’s the thing about the Natural Progression. It takes time. Julianne and I weren’t best friends just because we moved in at the same time and had a couple good conversations, just like Bailey and I didn’t become best friends right after the sewing class we both took the summer after fifth grade. (Oh, how I wish I had photo documentation of that. Sorry, folks.)
In the case of my friendship with Julianne, it didn’t really Naturally Progress much further than those first few conversations. We would run into each other in the bathroom the four of us shared, and sometimes on campus, and we would comment on each other’s Facebook statuses occasionally. Whenever it was one of our four suitemates’ birthday, the others would decorate the bathroom for the occasion. (This is still one of my favorite dorm traditions! You better believe it is happening in our apartment next year!) But anyway, that is a relationship that didn’t really go much further than the first few interactions. Which is fine. I made really good friends, and I hope that Julianne also did, and we both enjoyed our respective freshman years.
This is a pretty good example to me of how I should approach meeting people here. I really don’t want to force friendship. I have gotten lots of advice about being bold and not being afraid to take the initiative when meeting people. Which I completely get. It is a little bit out of my comfort zone because I am pretty introverted. With each of the people I’ve met so far (which is about two… but still), I think I’ve done pretty well. You know, introducing myself, talking about where I’m from, and the real talking point–the fact that I already know one of our other hallmates from back in Austin! Super coincidental, right, that they’d put two of the three exchange students from UT on the very same floor of the very same building? Crazazy!
Anyway, I am not going to get caught in the mentality that I need to be best friends with each and every person I meet, especially the first few people I encounter. Because that is just not realistic and would be setting myself up for some disappointment. But I really do appreciate the kindness of those I’ve met so far, in speaking German with me and being patient with my lacking language skills. I trust that, with time, these relationships will become what they are supposed to become. We are all going to be living in the same area (and sharing a bathroom and kitchen, for crying out loud) for a whole semester. Interactions will happen, and hopefully they will be meaningful ones.
(UPDATE! Since I actually wrote this post, I have been contacted by the exchange student tutors who are hopefully going to set up activities for all of us lonely international students! I can see the light! Haha)
But if not, there are so many more people I have yet to encounter here. Classes don’t start for like 3 1/2 weeks, I haven’t been to too many church functions yet, and I haven’t had the opportunity to join any clubs or, really, interact with any students besides the ones who live on my floor. So it will come with time. I keep reminding myself that most of the meaningful friendships I’ve made (with some notable exceptions…) have all taken time–some of the people I call my closest friends now were just nameless faces in a club meeting or classroom the first time I encountered them.
Like this guy! The first time I talked to him (a horrible, awkward, mandatory German conversation in GER328) I had no idea who he was. A year later, we were co-staffheads on LA50 and now he’s one of my best friends.
And this girl! We met at a Covenant Mass, a few days later bought John Mayer tickets together out of convenience more than anything else, six months later went to work at the Pines together, and in 5 months we’ll be roommates!
Now, just like then, I just need to be patient. I need to go wash my dishes when I know there are other people in the kitchen instead of waiting till it’s empty. I need to try out my German even though I’m scared and kind of embarrassed by it. Because that’s what makes relationships happen, by golly.
Oh, and just because it’s perfect and is the namesake of my blog and, as such, all of my loyal readers should be able to experience it:
Yes, love planted deeply does become what it ought to be. These next four months will hopefully be a case study in this philosophy.
So, I have hope. I do. The Progression doesn’t fail.