Longterm friendships need prioritization

Illustration by Al Solecki

Illustration by Al Solecki

Gabby Zabat, columnist

My Freshman Class consisted of over 1,000 students, so there were definitely enough people for me to befriend when I entered South. I’m going to be a senior next year, and by now I’ve sort of classified each of my friends. There’s my main friend group, my Asian friends, my theater friends and my middle school friends.

Everyone has those middle school classmates that you basically want to forget about because they’re a reminder of your 11-year-old self. Believe me, I hate being reminded that I danced to Beyonce for the talent show in front of my entire middle school. Not a pretty picture. But I do keep a few of my old friends around because they were there when I was bullied and when I got to sing solos for our school mass.

Old friends are supposed to keep your memories alive and remind you of all the good and bad times of your life. No matter how many friends I’ve made over time, I know that only a few people still call me by my full name, understand the struggle of having the teachers we had in middle school and understand how strange it is to graduate with only nine students. I’ve been friends with my middle school classmates ever since, and I’ve realized that it is more beneficial to value those handful of friends who will stick by your side, rather than than the countless acquaintances you may know.

While I am close with my different friend groups, we will never be able to develop the same relationship as one with a friend I’ve known since preschool. I’m not going to make a secret handshake for every single person in my group, let each of them “borrow” $20, nor am I going to share every little scandalous secret I have because I know that we just aren’t that close.

Isn’t it a little tedious to treat every single one of your friends the same? If I see a friend from math class in the hall I’ll wave and smile. If I see my BEST friend I’ll run over and kick their backpack to catch their attention. While my math friend may think that kicking their backpack is very rude, my best friend knows that’s just how we interact. My math friend and I are just ‘acquaintances,’ but because no one says acquaintances, it’s easier to say ‘friends’.

Acquaintances are helpful when you need to ask about homework, talk to someone during class, or complain about a teacher. Is your math friend going to be there when you go through a messy break up? What about when you get accepted into college? Friends come and go, but over time we begin to see the true friends that stick with you through those tough or amazing times.

I’ve realized that my math friend and I have drifted apart and are no longer the BFFLS I thought we were, *tears up.* Honestly though, this is going to happen to a lot of our friends. Once high school ends, half of us will go to U of I while the other half moves to New York or California. Sure, I’m not going to need every single one of my friends to attend college with me, but I can still name at least two people I know I need to go to college with. In the long run, I’ll have the friends that remember what preschool, middle school and high school were like. At the same time, I will find new close friends to make memories with and hopefully keep for the rest of my life.