Friendships at Yale are a lot of things: genuine, fake, loving, annoying. In short: complicated. Very complicated — and for someone like me, 4,942 miles away from home, they are crucial for survival. When I think about my past five semesters at Yale, I replay a little movie of blurbs in my mind that remind me of my friendships.
My first spring at Yale: most of the class of 2024 is home, so it’s just a small number of us on campus, in the middle of a global pandemic. After a 12-hour flight, I greet a freezing New York morning, take the train to New Haven, drag my suitcase around the snow piles and walk into my new suite.
Seeing someone who I’m going to share every single detail of my life with for the rest of college is the last thing I expect to see, yet here we are, day after day, semester after semester, not being able to let go of each other. It’s in the small things: the love for historical fiction, always having water in the kettle for tea, the essential daily recap.
It’s almost always the little things, like the way I screamed “I hate you!” to a person I had only ever seen in office hours for making me go on that Coney Island roller coaster.
It’s quite literally in the small things, such as the five-dollar chocolate bars from GHeav that led to the invention of a highly exaggerated thing called the “GHeav trauma scale.” I was standing under the rain with a five-dollar chocolate bar in my hand, thinking that it was the only thing that would make me feel okay after a breakup — that is until I realized how the people around me made me laugh. A five-dollar chocolate bar and bringing up the “GHeav trauma scale” at our sad moments almost always leads to bursting laughter.
It was in a random genuine moment that someone next to me just started laughing at my reactions as I watched probably one of the most suspenseful horror movies of all time: “Hereditary.” It’s in the small gestures: receiving short encouraging texts, struggling over problem sets together and seeing how kind some people actually are. These moments also lead to seeing how some people do not come off as genuine or as kind and how their laughter does not create the same comfort that others create around you. Looking back at my last five semesters at Yale, that’s okay.
When I don’t feel like laughing, friendship is also a shoulder to cry on, a tea bag to help dry my tears or a cup of ice cream with Sour Patch Kids. Sometimes it’s a call in the middle of the night because I can’t go to bed without letting a friend know what happened. One time it was the “he kissed me” call, or as I like to call it, the “uh oh” call. The voice on the other side of the phone tried to shift my mind away from the inevitable heartbreak to come, because, you know, people sometimes catch feelings for a friend, and that’s even more complicated. Another thing I’ve realized is that you don’t have to solve every complicated puzzle. Sometimes they are just complicated, and that’s okay.
Friendships evolve randomly. I have stuck with some people and not with others. It all depends on those random little moments. At least that’s what I think, but maybe it’s not random. Maybe it’s in the small gestures, in the small moments where you are completely and unapologetically yourself and still get embraced for who you are. It’s in the small things: in longer phone calls, genuine conversations, sharing Milk Duds and tighter hugs.