How university has changed my perspective of friendship

How Isobel Coombs’ new friendships thrive off difference...

Isobel Coombs
18th March 2021
Growing up through school, our friends mould us into who we are - we naturally gravitate to those who share the same views, laugh at the same jokes and like the same sports teams. As I have transcendedmy school years and experienced university life it has become very clear to me that the definition of a friend does not have to be someone who is exactly like me.

Gone are the days of changing my fashion sense to ‘fit in’ and pretending to love the Twilight Saga so I could participate in the fandom that was my friendship group. University brings a new wave of friendship that is so refreshing after years of conforming to the tropes of the “cool girls”.

University is the pivotal point in your life where you leave your ‘bubble’- your school classes, your sports team, the familiar town that you call home and, most significantly, your friendship group. You are forced into a foreign city concentrated with students just like you, but also, not at all like you. Freshers’ week is so loaded with the societal pressure of making our university years the “best years of your life” and making “life-long friends”, that organic friendships are rarely formed. Once stripped of the treb-induced bragging and Freshers’ week formalities, the people we meet through our years of uni offer a totally new perspective on friendship. 

The most notable shift I felt in my perspective on friendships was that they thrive off differences, which was interesting considering I had grown up as a clone of the girls beside me at school. It has become clear that differences in opinion, interests and backgrounds pave the way for personal growth and much deeper relationships. Dissimilarities are opportunities to learn about each other and challenge each other which is so much more enriching than simply agreeing or, worse still, pretending to agree.

I feel that a true friend is someone who not only brings you joy, support and loyalty but also induces a self-reflection of your beliefs.

Whilst this all sounds very deep, I think that it is the maturity that university brings us the ability to challenge each other’s views without the fear of being less of a friend. 

Life at university is rid of the hierarchy that we all got so desensitised to during our teenage years- being immune to how draining it was trying to get to ‘the top’. I have found at university that we are all in fact as cool (or, rather, uncool!) as each other and having a huge amount of friends bares no relation status. I am a firm believer in keeping friendship circles small yet valuable, ensuring each person brings something positive to your life. University has taught me that friendship is not defined by how many friends you have, how similar you are or how many drunk nights you’ve shared. It is more about living separate lives as individuals but positively influencing each other and cheering each other on as you go. 

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