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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Column: Fickle friends

Friends are great … until they are nowhere to be found. If you have buddies who are as AWOL as the Hot Wheels, LEGOS, Nerf guns and other treasures your parents auctioned off in your absence, or who have made themselves as scarce as water in a sweltering desert, it’s sadly time you recognize them for the inconsiderate flakes they are.

The real friend is an endangered species of friend that tends to perish after migrating to college habitats, where acquaintanceship is a more valuable commodity. While a few of your fittest friends survive the trials of time, most evaporate off the face of your universe, leaving you as rich in friendship as a penniless man with torn pockets.

Though the absence of some friends may make the heart grow fonder, it inevitably makes the brain grow pissed that rather than cultivating your fragile friendship, they plucked it from the ground and trampled on it like a dozen wild six-year-olds fighting over bubble wrap.

Before you mentally chastise yourself for scaring off friends as consistently as a magnetic pole repels its match, remember that real friends are not susceptible to the sandpapers of time and conflict. Instead of flaking away, these friends will stick to you like gum melted onto cement by the summer sun.

Though your friends may deserve to have a dozen packages of extra-thick Bounty toilet paper glued to their houses by a couple hundred raw eggs, keep in mind that if college stress has turned you into a hermit who hides between library bookshelves or behind mountains of textbooks precariously piled on dorm-room desks, it’s not only their fault your friendship has faded.

You can only be righteously annoyed if you have honestly been trying to make plans with flighty friends who’ve decided they’d enjoy partying – or worse, tanning with the light of their weakly-lit computer screen – more than your company.

Since I once hated the disappointment of seeing friendships shrivel and wither away like thirsty plants, I won’t judge you for feeling upset if your own friends have been shirking their duties. I’ve realized, however, that it’s best not to take things too personally.

It may seem as though every bare rectangle and every crossed-out plan in your life calendar is mocking you, but the truth is that some people have the attention spans and time-management skills of third grade boys in math class on a sluggish Friday afternoon.

Sure, it’s disappointing that there are people who would waste away days by living in computer game simulations, or waste away brain cells guzzling alcohol rather than fortifying friendships. But life, especially college life, is a game of trial and error; you will need to encounter and contend with crappy friends if you hope to found lasting friendships with people who recognize you’re worth more than a forgotten penny in a dark, dirty, desolate alley.

Ten years from now, nobody will care to know who shot who in a game of Battlefield the night of Halloween, no matter how exhilarating it might have been. So make memories that you can look back upon fondly and make them with the people who appreciate all the time you have spent on their behalf.

Pull your thoughts out of nostalgia’s grasp and stare reality directly in the eye. If anyone is miserably failing to meet your standards for friendship, rather than worrying why, just let them go. Also, you need not waste time devising a solution for your unfulfilling social life. Simply get a job or internship, join some clubs, and do not hesitate to accost curious strangers who seem to share your interests. In Davis, potential friends are lurking around every corner.

Alternatively, if for some reason you have no luck meeting new people, I’ve heard the campus squirrels (and perhaps the horses of the equestrian center, as well) become quite animated and friendly once they’ve been fed a few slices of apple.

Lastly, if you feel you are the one guilty of stepping on friends’ self-esteems, shredding them to millions of pieces, burning them to ashes and kicking them into the staggering black hole of despair … I suggest you atone for your sins by apologizing and explaining why you’ve been too busy to maintain contact.

Good luck!

ZENITA SINGH will generously read any gossip, melodramatic life revelations or pleas for help you send to zensingh@ucdavis.edu!

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