It’s that time of year: students are heading back to school. I live in a neighborhood with many colleges and universities, and also work part time at one, so it’s a prevalent part of my life.
When I got out of college, it felt weird to not get ready for school in August of that year. When something is part of your life for sixteen years, it’s weird to not have it any longer. Who was I to become without school as part of my existence? It was difficult to fine-tune to a new take on life. That’s not to say I wanted to be back in college, but I had a difficult time adjusting to change in my life. Not going back to school the summer after I graduated made me feel as though I did something wrong. It was as though I had gotten in trouble and wasn’t allowed to be part of my regular routine anymore.
I went to grad school a couple of times and that got me back in the swing of things. But with nine years since I finished my last formal schooling, I’ve gotten used to life without college.
One thing that was never explained to me, though, was how to make connections with others after being around so many of the same people for years. We graduated, went our separate ways, and our close bonds fell apart. So how can we keep those connections after college?
1) Move to be near your friends
When I got out of graduate school the first time, I had many friends from college and other parts of my life who lived in Seattle. After working a job I didn’t like in the Midwest I decided to head out West to be closer to them because I knew I had an immediate community there.
2) Stay in frequent touch
Social media has changed how we connect with one another. We can follow people and know where they’re working, how their family is doing, and what activities they’re enjoying by accepting them as a friend on Facebook or Instagram. But that kind of connection can only take one so far. Even texting doesn’t match the level of depth one gets talking on the phone or visiting in person. I have some close friends that I try and see face-to-face at least once a year and speak on the phone with often. There’s nothing like setting aside time specifically for someone to make you feel closer to another person.
3) Accept that some friendships may not last
The people I spent time with every weekend in high school may be friends with me on social media, but their deeper connection to me is non-existent. And that’s okay. Imagine if we were as close to everyone we became friends with throughout our lives as we were to those friends we had in high school. It would be untenable. People change, our interests change, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it also means it may be difficult to keep those friendships together.
4) Build new friendships
That said, it is hard to develop new relationships, as I’ve often explored on this blog. But there are ways to make connections. This can occur through volunteering, religious groups, hobbies, and work. These aren’t all the ways to do so, but looking at such things as the EASE Method can give you an idea of how to develop those new friendships.
Life after college isn’t easy, but the transition can improve by taking proactive steps to find connections.
This blog is an exploration of the subjects of belonging and loneliness. I also look at mental health issues. I seek to provide content to my readers that is informative and helpful. If you don't want to miss anything, sign up for my email list.