April 30, 2021

STELLA | Making Friends After College (In a Post-Herd Immunity World)

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The outside world is dangerous. Taxes stalk us down, a more successful hunter than jaguars; landlords breathe down our necks when the rent is due but are nowhere to be found when toilets won’t flush; mom is no longer there to hold our hands for shots in doctor’s appointments. 

But perhaps the thing we might miss most about surviving and thriving as a dependent, college kid is being with our friends day in and day out. As daunting as coming to college can be, there are a plethora of outlets to find friends, whether it’s through clubs, Greek life, sports or something as simple as classes. We are surrounded by people our own age at Cornell, some of them even like One Punch Man, giving you another reason to bond.

If you settle down in  New York City after graduation many Cornellians will join you, but you still might find yourself with the urge to expand your social circles. Those of us living outside the city will be forced to.

As my future company’s  youngest hire by a decade, making “work friends” might be a little tricky. I can’t complain though, we go home at 4pm in time to catch the early bird special.  Many people will be in offices with co-workers around their age. Getting drinks after work will form friendships and weed out the narcs. Your manager doesn’t need to know you’re coming in hungover. 

Friends of friends become another popular route. Cindy’s high school bestie and her sorority sister will become closer to each other than either of them ever were to poor Cindy. 

Beyond this, we need to get creative. One thing we lose when we graduate are all of the clubs and organizations we were a part of (goodbye Sun), but we shouldn’t let our hobbies and passions wilt with the lack of structured student-body organization. Pursuing our college extracurriculars post-grad hopefully leads to meeting others with shared interests. The jocks among us will populate gyms, yoga studios and Soulcycles. The Sun writers will become friends with gourmet coffee shop baristas as they write for their personal blog (stay tuned).

It’s easy to feel isolated in large cities, surrounded by so many unknown faces, but just as we did  with college, so too can we make our respective cities smaller, joining communities within. Improv comedy ended, but you can still look into signing up at local joke houses for open mic nights. No better friends than comedians. Acapella and WVBR might be over, but boutique record stores will host album listenings and your local bar may be in need of live performers. Dance troupes have moved on to new leadership, but that Friday night group salsa class is calling your name. Frats and Sororities are no more – good.

Really, we just need to explore exciting events around our cities and not be afraid to start conversations, although the shy amongst us might need the help of a conversation starter. Get a dog. People will stop to pet that good boy and conversations will spark, unless you get a chihuahua. 

Even if our workmates are older, it’s fun to grab a drink or lunch or carpool with them. They’ve been in our desired industry for years, so we’ll be getting free advice and expertise, as well as the opportunity to bond over a shared passion. Maybe they’ll buy the first round too, having made your starting salary once upon a time.

It’s exciting to be moving to a new place, or back home after four years away because it’ll be different. And though we likely won’t be seeing our best friends every hour of every day, there’s something nice about having personal space and alone time. I’ll be spending my sunsets out on the beach, reading to myself year round. Too bad if you have to be confined to your 8 square foot shoebox of a room in New York because it’s blizzarding again and the landlord can’t be found to fix the main heating vent. The City of Angels may not have a big Cornell alumni crowd, but at least I won’t have to shed four layers of clothing entering the office in February.

AJ Stella is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. Stellin’ It Like It Is runs every other Friday this semester.