One of the most rewarding aspects of attending college is the ability to meet new friends around every corner. Here at George Fox there are a multitude of events, clubs, and student life activities that provide students with an opportunity to meet and foster new relationships.

However, the transition from high school to college can also often leave you feeling distant from past friendships. One of the hardest experiences of my freshman year was realizing that who I was when I graduated high school, and who I was when I was finishing my first semester, was not the same person. This was also true for my friends from back home.

While it can be hard to give those around you and yourself room to grow, it is not only a necessary part of life, but something that will ultimately cultivate even stronger bonds for your lifelong friendships.

Here are a few ideas on how to maintain friendships from high school, along with advice on how to accept changing relationships while attending college.

#1 Become a pen pal

Sending handwritten letters is a great way to stay in touch with friends. In a digital world, texting can occasionally fall short from feeling genuine. Letters require a commitment of time and energy to write, which make attempts to stay in touch just that much more meaningful.

Another unique thing about sending letters is the ability to send little knick-knacks. A unique idea is adding in a dried flower that you found on your walk to class, a bag of your favorite tea to drink while studying, or even covering the letter in personal Post-it notes that you have in your backpack. Make sure to keep it flat and small, though, so you don't have to pay for extra postage.

Most of all, it is always fun to have a reason to check your mailbox!

Photo by Pixlar

 #2 Accept that your friends (and you) will grow and change

Accepting this is no easy feat, so it is important to have grace with yourself and others. Growing can be a challenging process, and many times you don’t even realize that it happened until it’s over. Many can feel frustrated or confused when they meet up with their high school friends for the first time during their semester break, wondering why something feels “off.”

But remember, “different” does not mean “bad.” While it can require a lot of prayer and introspection, being able to accept that you and those around you have changed can actually help in maintaining the relationship.

It is when we meet people where they are, not where we want them to be, that we can fully love them. This includes your relationship with yourself. Whether you are loving who you are turning out to be or find yourself missing your high school self, accepting yourself in this moment can equip you and your friendships with the skills needed to maintain them for years to come.

#3 Use social media intentionally

This can be a great time to use social media to your advantage. Thanks to our phones and laptops, we have the ability to conveniently reach anyone. So, whether your friends are 20 minutes across town or in another part of the world, social media platforms can help you stay up-to-date with their lives. 

One idea to connect with your friends more intentionally through social media rather than simply liking posts is to create a direct message group chat. This allows you to share posts that made you laugh, inspired you, or reminded you of them. 


#4 Realize the value of temporary friendships

Just because the friendship didn’t move into the next chapter of your life doesn’t mean the relationship wasn’t valuable. Many relationships we will have, especially those made in our youth, may not be maintained as we move into adulthood. 

However, these relationships that were only for a temporary period of time are still extremely valuable. All the moments of laughter and sharing great memories still helped create you to be who you are today. 

It is OK that not all your friendships from high school are going to be continued into college. However, gratefulness for these experiences and relationships you were able to have, no matter how long they lasted, is important. 

Navigating and maintaining relationships can be difficult no matter what stage of life you are in. But when you intentionally reach out, whether that be with paper and pen or over the phone, friendships can stay strong throughout different chapters of your life. 

While college is a great place to foster new friendships, it’s also a great opportunity to work on putting in the effort to maintain relationships with those far away.

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