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Column: It’s OK to rely on others

Photo via Jonathan Michel.

On Wednesday morning, I was running late to class, which was an Honors Program seminar on the psychology of social media. After huffing and puffing my way up to the top floor of the BECC, I opened the door to the classroom and the first thing I heard my professor say was, “No matter what, we always need other people.” 

At that point, I still had not figured out what I was going to write my column about. What about my life could be that interesting?

Lately, my daily schedule has seemed pretty monotonous: go to class, attempt to complete my homework on time, take care of anything related to The Scout and cover sporting events both at local high schools and at Bradley. While I have tried my best to sprinkle in my social activities on the weekend, the hours with my friends pale in comparison to the hours I’ve spent trying to check off everything on my to-do list and attempt to build my future. 

I pondered what my professor had recently said for the next few minutes in class. I thought to myself, “I like being social and having friends, so why do I spend so much time focusing on just me?”

I used to be an extremely social person. Believe it or not, I was homeschooled for my entire life up until I came to Bradley for my freshman year in the fall of 2019. Yes, you read “social” and “homeschooled” together in the same paragraph.

During my high school days, I was always out with my friends. For those of you wondering, I met my friends through homeschool groups, varsity basketball teams and church. From there, I always met friends of my original friends and began to hang out with those mutual friends as well.

My social “web” grew exponentially, and the best part about being homeschooled was that I only spent time with people who I wanted to. I never had to worry about the drama of “normal” high school or having to see people who I was not the biggest fan of.

I continued my social habits into the genesis of my Bradley career. Just like any other wide-eyed freshman, I sought to meet as many new people as possible. After being homeschooled and not always seeing my friends on a daily basis, arriving at college was one of the most exciting times of my life. 

Things took a downturn just over a semester later, as friendships fizzled for frivolous reasons and I begrudgingly adapted to occasionally seeing people whom I didn’t want to be around. Being sent home three-quarters of the way through my first year at college due to COVID-19 didn’t do my social life any favors either.

For many months, I felt myself slipping away from the happy-go-lucky, extroverted and always friendly version of myself. I still wanted to get out and do fun things with my friends, but I found myself not wanting to be around people as much as I used to.

Between Mondays and Fridays, I’m usually busy from the time I wake up until my head hits the pillow — occasionally at an unholy hour of the night — making it hard to see friends who are deserving of my time. At times, I get hyper-focused on being the best that I can be, both in class and in my field of sports communication.

However, my professor’s words from the beginning of class were the cherry on top of my recent realization that I, and everyone else, can’t get by just on their own.

Between all the hustle and bustle of college life — exams, writing papers, building your resumé, relationships and going to Walmart to buy Cheez-Its because your roommate ate them all — it’s not always easy to have time to do things like getting dinner with your friends. Sometimes, it’s even harder to branch out and try to make new friends.

The pandemic made a lot of people realize that they can get by on their own; it might not have been easy, but many found it to be possible. I don’t go on TikTok very much, but I assume that there are a lot of users making videos about why being anti-social or setting unrealistically high expectations to be their friend is the new trend.

However, in my opinion, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Other people, whether they are your closest buddy since high school or a nice stranger that holds the door open for you, can make tremendous positive differences in your life. Speaking at least for myself, being called “sweetie” by Nancy from the student center always made my day, and I didn’t even personally know her.

If total strangers can make you smile, think about how happy others who you do know personally can make you feel. Friends can help you with homework, drive with you to a corn maze, make you food, go to concerts with you, provide you with reasons to be happy when you need emotional support and do so much more. 

Try to reciprocate similar favors to them. If they are stressed, offer to do something nice for them. Ask if they want to take a walk or go for a drive. Try to give advice for the problems that they are dealing with. It may sound clichéd, but I truly believe that people should try to be nice to one another because you never know what another person is going through.

No one should have to go through things alone, whether their life is going good or bad. So reach out to that friend you haven’t talked to in a while, pick up something that one of your peers dropped or offer to go out with your friends on the weekend. Because no matter how independent you are, you and everyone else around you could always use another good person in their life.

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