2016 has been an interesting year.
I made many new friends, stayed close to some old ones, drifted from others and lost a new friend.
The transition from 2015 to 2016 was significant enough to send some friendships into a state of flux, and I was filled with uncertainty and excitement in equal parts. 2015 was the year of our A levels, our graduation year, and the last year where I would be with the people I’d grown to know and love over the past 2 years in RI.
I had experienced these feelings of confusion before, the year we graduated from RGS in 2013. I remember being so afraid of losing my closest friends – my ride or die girl squad, plus a few other classmates I’d grown awfully attached to. I was endlessly worried that we’d lose contact despite being in the same JC, or that we’d find new friends to replace the old ones. But it turned out that those fears were unfounded, because 5 years on, these girls are still like sisters; no amount of geographical distance or unread texts is going to affect our friendship, and when I have any problems to confide or gossip to share, they’re the first people I’d run to. I guess our Year Head was right when she told us that the friendships formed in RGS would be the ones that lasted for life, and I’m so blessed to have found something that precious and magical.
Some people are more introverted, so they’re okay with having fewer close friends and forming exclusive friendships with others similar to them, but for me (and most of my closest friends), we enjoy having deep connections with more than just a handful of people (I would say I have about 12 close friends and many good friends?). It took me a while to feel secure and reconcile that just because my best friends and I had new friends in different social circles, it didn’t mean that we cared about each other any less. Sure, it was a lot harder arranging meetups once JC started, but we still made the effort to catch up over 15-minute lunch breaks or early morning heart-to-heart talks. If anything, being in different classes from my closest friends strengthened our friendship because we had to make more of an effort than back in secondary school, while also giving me the opportunity to bond with my new classmates.
The friends in my JC class (and my other besties) will always know me better than any new friends I’ve made in university, for the main reason was that they were there to see me at my lowest point in life, when I was the most vulnerable. They were bystanders to everything that went down in 2015, from my breakdowns in the school toilets, to supporting me after classes and trying to keep me from flunking out of school. I used to think that I was unlucky to have to experience something that life-altering in the most important year of schooling, but I guess the silver lining behind that very dark cloud was that I found many ride or die friends in my classmates (I’m miraculously still close to a third of 15S03L). I suppose that seeing a person change from a cheerful & good student to a walking black cloud who was too messed up to study is a pretty compelling reason to bond? They were supportive in all ways and slowly helped me find my way back to a healthy mental state, and that alone was enough for me to treasure them as friends for life.
As we transitioned to 2016, with the girls having an unprecedented 9 months of freedom before university commenced, and the guys having to enlist, some friendships were thrown into flux once again. It was scary to have no idea where I was headed for university, and even scarier was the notion that all my closest friends would be scattered across the globe, living their own adventures & forging their own paths. It took even more effort than before to stay close to all the friends I wanted to keep in my life, but it was worth the time and effort. The history shared with these friends and the years spent watching each other undergo metamorphosis felt all the more significant and precious, especially in the light of the looming changes that university was going to bring.
I grew closer to old classmates who I hadn’t expected to remain close to, and they became the friends I went on many adventures with during our 9-month break; I’ll forever cherish the fun times, sleepovers and deep talks I had with them. I also spent a significant fraction of that extended break with one of my best friends, from exploring Sentosa on our 10-odd trips there, to walking around aimlessly while talking about our dreams. She still remains one of my closest confidantes despite being a 12-hour flight away; I miss her so very much but I’m so excited to see where life takes a fellow dreamer like her. (hi Kat I know you’re reading this :P)
But I consciously drifted from one, for which I feel guilty yet relieved, because truthfully, I want to let go of that friend. With other friends, I don’t feel the need to have space, but with this friend, I just feel so…tired whenever I have to reply his/her texts. It goes against my conscience to just cut a friend off like that, and I’ll feel guilty being the ‘bad friend’ if I let it become a one-sided friendship, so I’ll just keep this friend for now and hope that he/she will find friends in university to move on to and forget about me.
It’s been 5 months since med school started but finding friends who feel like home isn’t easy. Sure, I’ve found a lot of new friends who I’m okay with (everyone here is just too nice), 2 or 3 I would consider close friends, but something just feels like it’s missing. Friendships formed here are out of convenience – defined as the desire to not have to eat alone during lunch – or maybe FOMO. We were sorted into houses, groups of 30 people who you sit with in the lecture hall everyday, and clinical groups (CGs) that were assigned within the house, so we’re effectively only given the chance to get close to our housemates, which is a pretty limited social pool. Nevertheless, people here are generally kind, friendly and extroverted, which is great if you’re only looking to make good – but not close – friends and engage exclusively in small talk.
I have to be careful of what I say here, but let’s just say that I had a bad experience with a newfound friend who I thought could have been a lifelong friend. We were close for the first few months of med school and got along like a house on fire, and I opened up to her and shared secrets that other faculty-mates would never know, because I trusted her, and she acted like the actually understood me. But one day she decided that I wasn’t enough, so she vacated the friendship. Naturally, all the friends I confided in told me that it wasn’t my fault, but maybe it was? In this new phase of life, it seems like close friendships form between people who share utterly identical opinions and similar wavelengths, but since I’m open-minded and have unconventional opinions & dreams, I can see why some people would not want to take the time to understand my psyche, and it’s okay; friends come and go, and that short-lived close friendship was nice while it lasted.
Perhaps my over-idealistic impression of university is what has left me feeling so disappointed. I started off the academic year bursting with enthusiasm to befriend everyone and find a new clique, as I always had when in a new environment. I suppose all the fragments of friendships, relationships (or my utter lack of) and studies will fall into place in time, so I’ll just sit back and wait for life to take its course.
Edit on 11th Mar 2017: When the 2nd semester started in Jan this year, I managed to bond really well with a small group of friends, who I had been hanging out with the previous semester, and we get along comfortably. In the previous semester, I had been trying to stay close to 2 different cliques within my house, because there were people I clicked extremely well with in both cliques. But the drawback of trying to be in 2 different friendship groups at once means that you’re only half as close to either group. So I made the decision to spend more quality time with this clique, because I feel like I can be entirely myself with them (aka saying weird & random things), and don’t have to filter my thoughts around these quirky and vibrant friends. Things are looking up, and I’m really blessed to have found a new circle of fun, music-loving and meme-addicted friends. Here’s to more weird jokes, jamming session and fun times together in school! 😀