Sunday, March 4, 2012

Damned if I do, damned if I don't? I might as well then.

Someone once told me that you make your lifelong friends when you're in university and that you leave your school friends behind.

I don't see how that's possible.

University - your first time away from home, your first step into adulthood, your first chance to explore who you are and who you could be. And it all happens in three or four years.

When you arrive, you're just about reaching the end of your teen years, hoping to leave behind all the chaos and confusion. The truth is that university is probably more tumultuous than your teen years ever were. And the mistakes you make now, are bigger and messier and scarier. They're harder to deal with because you aren't a kid any more and in this new world, apologies don't always fix things.

I came to Rhodes feeling confident of who I was, I'd always had a strong sense of self. It didn't take very long for Rhodes and the students here to teach me otherwise. I made a lot of mistakes. And unlike my best friend from back home, the people here didn't let me forget them. I was thankful for time alone, because when I was alone I could be the girl I knew I was. Out there, I couldn't escape from the person they thought I was. And the longer I stayed out, the more I began to believe I really was that girl and I hated myself for it.

I will never believe that you make your lifelong friends when you're in university. Not in these short years when you're changing so rapidly. Not when people only have three years to get to know you.

There are the couple girls who I will carry for the rest of my life. But most of the people from university will disappear into the background, as Rhodes will in a few months time. Not because I hate them or Rhodes, simply because it's time. Time to leave behind the people who have only seen my hardest, and most turbulent years and biggest mistakes and who have formed their opinions of me solely around those events. It is time to grow up and realise that my reputation in Grahamstown will mean nothing in nine months.

And as I enter my last year, I'm aware more than ever, that the girl who arrived here, is the same girl who will leave. Turns out, I was always the girl I thought I was. And I'm sorry for the people who never got to see her.

I have a friend who sees her.

She has blue eyes, blonde curly hair and the most infectious laugh you've ever heard. And we've made so many mistakes together, that we can hardly judge each other for them. There is no one like her. I love her to death and I would do anything for her. She'll be there when I get married and when I have my first baby. She'll be the first person I call when my kid has to go to school for the first time and I'm losing my mind entirely.

I met in her in high school. Her name is Claire. And you wish you knew her - trust me.

And so, as far as "lifelong friends from university and school friends not making the cut" goes - I'm sticking with my story.

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