The relationships we encounter throughout our lives are not linear. From simple childhood friendships to the tumultuous years spent spurring back and forth with parents, to our first real partner and consequent first real heartbreak, the lessons we learn through other human beings are essential parts of life. Not only would we drop dead of boredom without external influences, but we’d fail to progress through life at the rate we do; as people we need milestones, roadblocks and sometimes mountains to figure out who we are and what we want to do in the span of our personal timelines. These landmarks not only provide us with a constantly developing opportunity for change, but they allow us to identify which areas of our personality or attitudes need attention, altering or praise; in a nutshell, the people we meet during our lives are a lot more important than we may realise.
While at university, this seems especially relevant; a bit like our first day of ‘big school’, we are thrown into a fish-bowl of people and expected to swim. The perceived version of swimming at St Andrews? Find as many friends as possible in freshers week, join fifteen different societies and go to Every. Single. Ball. Known to Mankind. Oh, and don’t forget – your student loan is expected to be spent on Pret coffees (which you’ll happily guzzle in between tutorials at the expense of your poor, neglected fridge contents), event tickets (let’s face it, half the time you will try to sell them on Facebook because you’re skint – probably due to all those coffees) and new outfits to accommodate every sporting, drinking or social event you go to. But, under this superficial glaze of ‘friendship’ and being a successful social butterfly, it’s important to analyse the other people who flit in and out of your uni experience. Let me tell you one thing – it is not all caffeine, pretty dresses and brunch dates.
Firstly; unreliable or fake friends. Sounds sad, right? Maybe, but they’re a necessary part of life. Most usually people you met in freshers week or individuals who like to tally friendships as opposed to valuing quality relationships, they will teach you to thicken your skin. Prone to stabbing backs, falling through on plans or betraying personal details told in confidence, fake friends give you the opportunity to realise that quality really does trump quantity. While a large group of ‘friends’ may make for good photos at Kinkell, what’s the use if they consistently ghost you or hurt you? Luckily, everything has an equal and opposite entity: good friends who turn up at your house when you’re hungover to bring you greasy food, provide great hugs after a broken heart, and never fail to do that questionable tequila slammer with you in the Union. In this sense, fake friends are a blessing in disguise. Yes, they may hurt you, but they also shine a light on true friendship and how wonderful it can be.
Second? The panickers and procrastinators. At opposite ends of the productivity scale, we all know and cherish one dearly. Definable via either, A – flipping through a book in the library with enough external stress to make the whole room feel nervous, or B – nonchalantly watching Peep Show while chewing on a pen, these two species of human teach us good life skills. With totally different attitudes, they both show us one vital thing: being stressed and being unbothered are both ok. While unhealthy to be a panicker or a procrastinator for the majority of the time, a healthy balance is needed for all students to get their degree done with as little butchering as possible – after all, without either type of person how are we meant to stay up until 4:30am in order to finish an essay and then chill-out the next day? Without the panicker, we wouldn’t know of life hacks such as ProPlus, and without the procrastinator we’d never have found out about that new Netflix documentary. In short, ying-yang.
The tough one. Romantic relationships; something a lot of us will experience while at university. Good or bad, partners teach us a staggering amount of lessons. From teaching us how to care properly to highlighting when we are being taken advantage of, romantic connections with people shine a light on what we truly want and deserve. You may experience relationships that are kind and happy; even if you break up, you remain great friends who care about each other. Alternatively, someone may come into your life who indulges the negative aspects of your personality or uses you. While the latter may be hard to deal with, both forms of people are helpful in the end; just as the first provides you with mutual happiness, the second makes you realise your self worth and future potential for happiness.
Lastly, the best friend; the closest person you will have at uni. Although all quality friends teach you brilliant things, your closest companion is someone who will share meaningful, hilarious and painful experiences with you. From DRA-issued scissor induced meltdowns in the kitchen over a badly cut fringe to situations in which life turns sour, this individual will be the extra sibling you never knew you needed.
Your best friend will point out your good parts and call out your bad; they’ll endorse your healthy habits and squash your bad. Vitally, they’ll know how to pick you up when you’re down; whether this be putting on your favourite film, taking you to the pub or just giving you a hug, they know you almost as well as you know yourself. The best part? You’ll do this for them too. Like two peas in a pod, your best friend will make the simplest of things (i.e. trekking to Aldi or going for a pint) one of the funniest moments of your day.
Essentially, it’s important to realise uni is a bump ride in terms of relationships. There will be ups and downs (to endorse a variety of cliches), but each dip in the road is hugely important; whether someone makes or breaks your happiness, try to take a lesson away from it and be kind to yourself. You never know who, or what, is around the corner and it’s vital to embrace this – without the variety of people you’ve met so far, you wouldn’t be the person you are today.