The University Social Sphere: Lifelong or Mythical?

Social life at University is almost as important as the degree itself. For some people, it is even more important than their academics, but what I want to understand is whether this social life, the friendships it brings and the memories it provides is a positive and long-term mindset, or whether it is a negative, volatile and ultimately short-term distraction.

Lifelong friendships can, of course, be made anywhere. This means that university is probably one of the more likely places for you to find a lifelong friend. Many people stay well in contact with their university friends, and stick with them after graduation. However, to say that the university social sphere has an ultimately positive effect on friendships is farcical. The number of students going through friendship dramas right this second is ridiculous. The bigger the social group, the more drama occurs, and the worse the impact on your personal mental health. Now, this is not me saying that you won’t find your best friend at university, it is just a call to be wary of how the break up of a social group, or the inherent “bitchiness” that comes with some of the millennial generation, can damage you more than help you.

A recent conversation with a good friend of mine comes to mind. Looking through her photos from their first year days, she noticed the colossal difference between her friends then and her friends now. The relationships in first year had broken down or decayed, through drama or negative actions or changes in attitude. University is a time where people are changing an enormous amount. This shows this undoubtedly, as everyone’s lives and attitudes change at different rates, causing arguments and differences that often break down friendships or show the true colours of certain people. It’s tough to admit, especially as often you get over it and forget about it, but it is an essential learning experience.

“People inspire you or they drain you. Pick them wisely.”

Hans F Hansen

The word volatile is definitely important to think about. You could have the best friends and the best time at university, but things will be changing throughout your 3-4 years and your social sphere will be adjusting all the time. You’ll still tend to find your reliable friendships, the stalwarts of your network, keeping the peace and ultimately having your back. However, the flaky, unreliable and sometimes selfish people on the side tend to flit in and out as they please, causing an ever changing dynamic.

An impossible goal? Perhaps with the presence of fake and toxic friends

University is full of people wanting the be popular, full of people who are going through big changes in mindset and full of people who want to be left alone. The first category are “the wannabe BNOCs”, those who will do anything and put anyone down to get where they want to go. Being climbed on by these people can be tough to deal with, and it could really affect your experience. This isn’t helped by The Tab’s constant attempt to glamour-ise this sort of behaviour with their BNOC of the Year articles. Yawn.

The second category are just trying to find their feet, but this can lead to many changes in life, reinforcing how short term many social experiences are at university. These people tend to be most reliable, as long as you are reliable for them. It’s a give and take.

The final group just want space. Whether it’s only occasionally or all the time, these people deserve their space. Unfortunately, some people don’t understand this, and bombard the sanctity of their peace and quiet. You could be negatively influencing someone’s university experience just because you’re not being conscious of their space.

To sum it all up, you will have made many friends at university. You will meet a lot of people, have many nights out and love it. However, it is not a bad thing to try and work out the character of some of your friends. The people who use you or treat you worse than you would like are those you need to evaluate. The parasites need to be removed, in order to give you your best experience at university, with the least drama and volatility. And for the friends who truly will be with you for life, keep them close, for you might need them more than you imagined at one point or another.

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