As I sat among the now enormous Fencing Club at the CIW Nite Owl after practice, I realized that it won’t be long before I pack up my clothes, roll up the posters, take down the paintings and figure out how to pack all my paraphernalia for the last time.
I have spent the last week or so searching for a thread running through my time here that isn’t my roommates or the greenish-purple bruises on the right side of my body (current count: two on my bicep, one on my thigh and one on my left hand). I can’t. Aside from the skills I’ve picked up in my academic endeavors, all I anticipate holding on to are my friends. Making friends has been the most important experience of my college years.
It doesn’t matter if your friends aren’t the generic “coolest kids on campus.” No one past high school really thinks about that anyway. What’s important is that these are people who make you feel loved and part of something bigger. They grin broadly and wave excitedly when you run into them on campus. They listen to you when you knock on their door in tears.
Don’t forget to do the same. Make time to hang out, even if it’s only five minutes to say hi. Open yourself up to your friends and be there when they need you. Don’t forget to celebrate the originality shining from each one. When you find your people, don’t let go. My first roommate and I were placed together randomly freshman year and we’ve stayed together ever since. And, despite my initial misgivings, I’ll miss my newest roommate too.
It’s not easy to find your people when you’re at a school as large as Binghamton, where it feels like everyone’s rushing from class to lunch to class to studying to practice to downtown and no one has time to listen to you try to introduce yourself.
So part two of my advice for you young’uns is: go to a GIM. I went to around five and ended up only sticking with two clubs. You’re allowed to go to a GIM and decide you don’t want to join. However, if you do, that may be where you find the people you’ve been looking for. That may be where you find that excited greeting from across campus, that ridiculous story you tell all the time, or even that friend you label “best.”
Going to a GIM that I didn’t anticipate enjoying is the reason I’m surrounded by so much paraphernalia which I have to pack. A first-place Sabre medal that I stole from my friend hangs by a strip of photo booth pictures of me and my second roommate. Over the épée the club gave me, a string of Starburst wrapper origami cranes folded by the former vice president dangles not far from a watercolor panda my oldest roommate picked up for me in the city. And then there’s the scrapbook and the pirate hat.
The thick, colorful scrapbook and the pirate hat are the reason I’m writing this column instead of one advocating studying and partying hard. After walking into a surprise going-away party in my living room, I realized that all I can really tell you readers is to find yourself some friends that you love.
I’ve met people here that will live in my memory as bright stars. They shine through the cloudy skies and long winters of Binghamton, and I will always look for their constellations.