February 19, 2023

CHASEN | Forgive Your Friends

Print More

Our time at Cornell is not infinite. This is a concept that has been drilled into our heads ever since we opened our college portals and read our acceptance letters during senior year of high school. From being told that these will be the best four years of our lives, to being told that college is the best place to learn solely for the sake of learning, the idea that the Cornell experience is something to be treasured is not a new one.

But oftentimes, there’s something that gets omitted from the Cornell experience, something that’s more important than all the rest. It’s the people — from the friends you meet during your first week to the longtime Ithaca residents you meet on campus and around town who have seen generations of Cornellians come and go. The people are what make the Cornell experience what it is. 

Why do I bring this up? Because sometimes the people around you will make you question this simple truth. This has been especially true in these last few years, where the pandemic has called into question many of the social customs we had all previously taken for granted.

Maybe you perceived your friends as being too stringent with certain COVID-19 guidelines, beyond when you viewed it as necessary. Maybe you didn’t think they were being careful enough. Maybe someone insinuated that you studied too much, or not enough. Maybe someone made a passing remark you found disparaging for whatever reason. It could be any number of perceived slights. 

First of all, don’t diminish those feelings. It’s perfectly okay to feel slighted, and to be upset for a little.

But second, and more importantly, don’t let those feelings turn into grudges. Our time in Ithaca is too short to hold grudges. Instead, try to address issues immediately, because most times the person didn’t mean to offend you and will be more than happy to work things out. In my experiences, these conversations can be as short as 5 or 10 minutes, or as long as a couple hours. And over the course of those discussions, you may discover that they may even be dealing with something on their own, and did not even realize you were hurt.

Of course, there are caveats to this, just as there are caveats to everything. When someone demeans your background or ethnicity, or goes beyond the pale with respect to your personal values, take time to think about whether that person is worth having in your life. I’ve been in this position before, and it was one of the more difficult points of my Cornell experience. If you think you can reconcile and forgive this person, then go for it. But if not, that’s okay as well, and those around you should not force you into a position where you would be badly hurt again.

But with most people, this is not the case. Most people mean well, especially at an amazing institution like Cornell. If you are clear and concise about what is bothering you, I’d bet you could resolve any issues right then and there. 

Finally, I want to go back to the idea that the Cornell experience is not an infinite one. The friends you make here will be the ones you take with you for the rest of your life. Therefore, grudges become more and more costly as you slowly approach graduation and can ultimately deprive you of friends, connections and even romantic interests. 

So if you have an opportunity to resolve issues or grudges with friends, take it. Being a Cornellian is a special thing, filled with special experiences and special people. It is too valuable to simply discard those that have helped make it that way.

Isaac Chasen is a senior in the Dyson School. He can be reached at [email protected]. Cut to the Chase runs every other Sunday this semester.