For freshman at Case Western Reserve University, orientation began about a month ago. The weeklong event covered everything from diversity to education to making friends. There was a focus on stepping out of your comfort zone, putting yourself out there and initiating conversations with fellow freshman. First years were urged to meet new people and establish friendships. They were told stories of roommates becoming the best of buds and of entire floors creating bonds that lasted all four years of college. It was as if making friends during orientation was essential to succeeding, as if you were doing it wrong if you began classes without someone to call a friend.
I was one of those people who, on the last day of orientation, looked back and realized I had not made any friends. I interacted and acquainted myself with many people and my contact and Facebook friend lists had grown in size, but by the time the dust settled I came to the realization that I was still friendless. Did I mess up? From the looks of it, and based on what was preached to me during orientation, it appeared that I did.
However, I do not feel that I “failed.” That’s because my definition of a “friend” is different than many people’s definition. A friend is more than just someone you know and enjoy being around. A friend is someone you can put your utmost trust in, someone that looks out for you, someone that brightens even your darkest of days. A friend puts up with all your flaws and laughs at all your unfunny jokes. A friend remembers the insignificant things, like how you love your watch so much you sleep with it on or how you have something against wearing the color red on Fridays. A friend will share your pain when you fail and will rejoice in your elation when you persevere. You can be yourself around your friend, because you know he or she will not judge you and will instead accept you for who you are. By my definition, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for me to make even a single friend during the course of the week that was orientation. From the very start, I was set up to “fail.”
Giving the false impression that friends can be made practically overnight is not just a problem CRWU has, but a problem all campuses around the country face. In today’s world, the word “friend” has been oversaturated to the point where it has lost much of its true meaning. It is thrown around carelessly, much like the words “love” and “favorite.” During a time when people are increasingly sensitive to being left out of the loop, we have come to a point where we call everyone we know a “friend” to prevent ourselves from stepping on toes and hurting feelings. Acquaintances have become friends, friends have become best friends and “best friend” has lost its literal definition and now almost always has an “s” tacked on the end. More thought and consideration should be given when using the word “friend.” It is a strong word that holds a lot of implied meaning, but like with everything, overuse can cause it to sound petty and thin.
Larry Wang is a first-year studying accounting. He’s a complete dork whose idea of a fun Friday night involves Smash Bros and anime marathons.