I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago about what I suppose is now a regular topic of discussion among us seniors: Whether or not we can maintain our friendships beyond high school. Something he told me in that conversation was that had he not chosen to stay in San Diego, he thinks he would lose contact with about 95% of our entire friend group.
I talked about it with a few more people, and they echoed that sentiment. But the idea of losing contact with so many people I care about scares me.
The class of ’22 is the first senior class since the pandemic began to participate in all the activities of a traditional senior year. We were able to experience a fully in-person school year after a year and a half of online school. And unlike the two senior classes before us, we got the chance to come back to school and see friends and acquaintances who, for nearly half of our high-school lives, we had only seen through a screen.
I think that experience made this year a uniquely interpersonally connected one. I would certainly believe that being separated from other people for so long made me more likely to make new connections and forge deeper bonds with people this year than if we had stayed in person the entire time. In a way, I think that being starved of companionship and being given time to grow has made this year’s newfound connections a lot more meaningful.
Sometimes I’ve daydreamed about what it might be like 10 years from now to move to a new city and bump into a friend from high school—excitedly greeting each other, hugging and making plans to grab coffee and catch up. When we do catch up, we, of course, laugh about the good old times and watch the other person with an air of admiration as we realize how much they’ve changed, grown, and accomplished since we were kids.
But as I go through the motions of every day, trying to keep myself awake in a class that no longer assigns work, chuckling and joking with the friends that, for many of us, we’ve known for a decade, I can’t shake the creeping feeling that I will never see my good friends again.
Inspirational speakers talk about this all the time—“If you’re in high school right now, take all the risks you can. You’re never going to see the people you see right now in high school after you graduate. Once you leave and go out into the real world, you’ll realize those friendships were purely based on location and chance.”
That doesn’t inspire me at all. In fact, it makes me terribly sad. For one, I hate the idea that out of all the amazing people I’ve connected with, I’m only going to see 5% of them once I “get out into the real world.” Second, is it really true that the deep connections I’ve made with people here were just based on proximity? I don’t think that means those relationships aren’t valuable. After all, aren’t all friendships based on location and chance? Our class has experienced the most formative years of our life so far together, and I think it would be a bummer to let that shared experience fizzle out.
What I know right now, though, is that the relationships we have with our friends in high school are valuable, and I certainly want to stay updated and in touch with everybody I know here.
Of course, we can make promises to visit whenever we can, or see each other when we’re home, but realistically, life probably will get in the way. I’ve heard way too many stories about people who lose touch with their friends and only see them through Facebook, or, for our generation, mostly likely Instagram or Snapchat. I’ve already had older friends do that.
But, again, I personally highly value the friends I’ve made here in high school, and it sucks to think about the idea that I may never hear from some of you again. I don’t want your signature in my yearbook to be the last thing I have to remember you by.
Of course, none of us are obligated to stay in touch. I’m certain some of us can’t wait to be rid of high school and everything or everyone that comes with it. Nobody has to stay connected with everyone, and nobody should feel guilty if life just doesn’t let it happen.
But I, for one, promise to myself (though perhaps naively), that I will continue to stay in regular contact with the people I met here. I promise that I won’t let the people I moshed with, ate brunch with, and studied with till 3 a.m. drift away and become strangers. I hope we seniors (and you underclassmen) continue reaching out to each other even after we’re no longer forced to see each other every day. And if guilt-tripping you in the school newspaper is what I have to do to get you to stick around, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
Let’s keep in touch, yeah?