Friend for life, or for convenience?
There are three different types of friends, Laura Mazzitelli explains.
“People come and go. Everyone that’s been in your life has been there for a reason, to teach you, to love you, or to experience life with you.” – Anonymous
When you go to school for five days a week, in a year group of less than 200 , your friendship pickings are already slim to begin with.
During school, a lot of your day-to-day conversations are probably with people you won’t really see outside the classroom. The reality is, as humans get older, we change and mature at different rates to each other. Your pre-pubescent 12-year-old self, starting out on your high school journey, is different to the person you become years later. And naturally, the same may go for your high school “BFF forever.”
But this is not always the case. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find those lifelong childhood friendships… You just need to know how to recognise them.
There’s a saying that goes: “We have three types of friends in life: Friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime.”
But how can we spot the difference between these temporary and permanent friendships in our schooling years?
Friends for a reason
Sometimes the people we meet simply aren’t meant to stay in our lives forever. This doesn’t mean they aren’t true friendships, though, nor does it mean they are purely ones of convenience.
“Maybe some people are just passing through. It's like some people just come through our lives to bring us something: a gift, a blessing, a lesson we need to learn. And that's why they're here. You'll have that gift forever.”
― Danielle Steel, The Gift
We can’t control the change in others, nor can we dictate their life choices. Friends you meet during school can teach you a lesson. They can guide and support you in times of need, or at a stage of your personal development where you’re on the same page.
“There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need to change your life, or you’re the one that’ll change theirs.” – Louis and Champagne
Friends for a season
“People come, people go – they’ll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a favourite book. When you finally close the cover, the characters have told their story and you start up again with another book, and complete with new characters and adventures.”
– Nicholas Sparks, “The Rescuer”
These friends can often spur out of situations of convenience. They are there for you during the schooling period, but once it’s all over, you don’t hear from them again.
Perhaps you had a friend during your final year of school who you work well with under assessment periods. They may have given a helping hand here and there during this stressful time, and you may have returned the favour.
You might not have clicked with them like you do with your other friends, but you worked well together. However now, you common goal is over, and so is the ‘need’ for the friendship. See, if you work alongside someone every day at school in class, or every week of uni in your tute, it provides a platform for easy and effortless interaction. In other words, the time has already been set for you by your timetables… you just need to show up.
First year UTS nursing student, Louisa North, has some first-hand experience with this reality. Having just finished her HSC, Louisa says she has noticed how friends can change once you leave school.
“Lots of the friendships I made within high school were due to convenience,” says Louisa.
She thinks it’s possible to meet lifelong friends, but a lot of the interactions with your fellow peers won’t venture far beyond the school gates once that final bell rings.
Friends for a lifetime
It’s not all bad, though. People like Denisse Fernandez, UTS Engineering and Business student, made what she thinks will be lifelong friendships during her secondary years of schooling.
“I have close friend that I know will stay with me no matter what,” says Denisse.
She agrees these type of friends will always have her back, and says the convenience factor actually worked in her favour:
“In high school, those friends were conveniently there, hence why I was able to turn them into lifelong friends. Now I choose to stay friends.”
So, the question remains…
Can we make true, enduring friendships during high school and uni, or are they friendships purely of convenience? Well, it seems you may be able to find lifelong friends during adolescence and early adulthood… but everyone has different experiences.
Finding friends later in life doesn’t mean they can’t still be enduring friendships. On one hand, students like Denisse think high school gives you more opportunity to mingle and find your crowd:
“I know I’ll meet one or two lifelong friends [in uni], but I doubt it’ll give me more opportunities than high school did. Plus, these people basically grew up with you, you develop a bond that’s similar to a familial bond.”
But on the other hand, students like Louisa feel their university experience will be different:
“At Uni you are not always with the same people in classes and you are not seeing people as often as you would in high school, so I find my friendships made are not out of convenience as more effort needs to be made.”
All in all, you can help spot these friends when you recognise this fundamental distinction: And if you can spot the true friends early on in life….Well, you’re damn lucky.
Laura Mazzitelli is a third year UTS student studying a combined degree in Communications (Journalism) and Law. She is a music and coffee enthusiast, but her true passion is writing, and has been since her early teens.