Cut to the Chase
Columnist Genevieve Chase--an Army veteran and Eli Whitney student in Berkeley College--shares hard-earned wisdom with undergraduates. This column appears in the November, 2022 issue of the Yale Daily News Magazine.
Hannah Han: My best friend goes to another school. In high school, we were extremely close and depended on each other, but now we hardly talk. I want to maintain our friendship, but we no longer need each other like we used to. Is there a point to trying to force a connection that isn’t there?
As someone familiar with the challenges of short stays and frequent moves, I am confident that if you two are super close, distance won’t matter. Friendships are wonderfully strange that way. You can be apart for years and then instantly pick up where you left off at the next visit.
But we can’t force connections, and it is exhausting when we are the one putting forth the effort. It might be worth expressing how you value your friendship and want to stay connected even if more sporadically.
When my friend’s husband travels, they set up an iPad at dinner, so he can still eat with the family. Creating new traditions and doing little things that are meaningful to your friendship will help you meet in the middle and adapt to the new context of your friendship. Long-distance friendships can work, but they require effort from both parties. If your friend isn’t keen on it, you’re left to choose to do all the work or move on.
Conversely, don’t miss out on friends you can make here and now. When we live in the past, we miss the gifts of the present moment.
Idone Rhodes: I started taking guitar lessons for fun, but now I don’t have time. I’m having trouble making time because I enjoy it, but not for the sake of getting a good grade or succeeding in an extracurricular group. Is it important to make time to pursue interests or hobbies that aren’t productive for my education?
This one is easy: grab your laptop, open up GCal, and schedule an hour a day to do something you enjoy. It’ll keep you from burnout–a dangerous place.
It’s incredibly important to pursue interests and hobbies we enjoy. It’s a necessary part of life during and especially beyond university. Finding fun outside academic and career pursuits results in multiple physiological and psychological benefits that support well being— a crucial component of success. These include increasing creativity, reducing stress, and restful sleep, all of which support better memory and boost energy.
On the other hand, you may have outgrown guitar. It happens. If this is the case, you might think about taking a break and looking for a new hobby. Whatever you choose, schedule time outside the rigors of coursework to have fun.
Anonymous: I’m seeing a boy I don’t like very much. He’s cute and I enjoy his company, but I am not interested in him in a substantial way. At the same time, I don’t want to stop seeing him because I don’t want to be alone. Should I stop seeing him or continue until I find someone better?
We all need someone. I’m concerned, however, that you fear being alone in a way that detriments your (and your partner’s) well-being. Though we are wired for companionship, you aren’t being real if you can’t show up the way your partner does. In order to attract the type of relationship you want, you’ll need to work on being a better you. You can’t do that authentically if you’re filling the void of loneliness with something external to you.
I also think you’re confusing two very different concepts. It is possible to be alone and not lonely. This is achieved through self-awareness, maturity, and the understanding that other people can’t “complete” us. It’s also likely that if you continue this unhealthy relationship, you’ll end up hurting someone who doesn’t deserve it.
I’ll leave you with a question to consider. Ask yourself, “If I can’t be content alone with myself, why should I expect anyone else to want to be with me?”