Friends and Community Matter

Julia Fechter

There is nothing like a marathon homework session to motivate me to get out of my dorm room. By the time I have finished typing that paper, or reading that book chapter, I yearn for some kind of break. Those late-night homework or study sessions may be inevitable, but that does not make them any less stressful.
So what do I do? I might go and get something to eat from the Dining Commons, or catch up on my favorite shows. What relieves my stress even better, though, is spending time with friends. I am grateful to have friends that I can spend time with at Georgia Southern and in Statesboro. I feel like my college experience would be entirely different if I did not have a solid community of people around me.
GSU’s Reflector magazine, Statesboro’s metal music scene, and longtime friends have taught me some valuable lessons about community recently. At the most basic level, I can relate to the people in those groups. I share a love for writing with the other staff at the Reflector, and a love for heavy music with people in the local metal scene. I share many interests and hobbies with my longtime friends, the least of which is working out and Cards Against Humanity.
My passions are what move me forward day to day. They are my spark. I imagine that is the case for most people. That is why it is so important to have people around you with similar interests. You need people with whom to discuss common interests, to be encouraged to pursue your passions and to feel supported, and less alone.
You need people that you can enjoy. Many of us have experienced that situation where you cannot enjoy another person’s company because they are being rude, or self-absorbed. Those situations can be so emotionally and mentally draining. We do not have to settle for those kinds of friendships. 
Rather, you should aim to spend time with people that you appreciate for their interests and personality, and personality is definitely something that the Reflector division of student media has.

My colleagues are sassy, funny, and not afraid to speak their minds. I know that when I walk into the office for a meeting, there is a good chance I will be laughing while I am there.

In general, the office has a really positive, welcoming vibe. It is great to be around people that are so lighthearted and fiesty. I tend to be a more serious person, so being around them provides balance.
I also realized this week how important it is to have people with whom you can be vulnerable. Now, I think a lot of people think being vulnerable means you have to talk about your deepest, darkest secrets with someone. Well, I see vulnerability as being able to talk about anything, good or bad, with someone.
At a metal concert recently, I talked to a couple of the guys from the band Carbonine. We talked about everything from our favorite bands to the music scene in Los Angeles, the band’s hometown, to anime. Having that kind of conversation made the experience of being at the concert that much more meaningful to me.

When you are invested in a community based on your interests or hobbies, you begin to appreciate and get to know the people in that community more and more. Doing so is crucial, if you plan to stay engaged in that community.

Most of all, I believe healthy community consists of people that take care of each other. I have two good guy friends that I spend time with at least once a week. We exercise at the RAC together, and often spend time together at one of our places. The guys have cooked for me before, which in my mind, is a sign of true friendship. If someone is willing to put that much time and effort into something for another person, then it shows they care about the friendship.
I also know that if my car had, say, a flat tire, and I needed one of the guys to come get me, they would drop what they were doing. It is things like that that show how selfless my friends are. It is hard to find friends like that, so I know they are definitely worth keeping as friends.
Community has given me stability in what I would otherwise deem a hectic time. As a freshman at Georgia Southern, I am still learning about who I am, what I want out of college, and what I want out of life in general. In the midst of exploration, tough decisions, and uncertainty, I know that I can count on my various friends. These friends all color my life a little differently, and that is not a bad thing. I learn from these friends, and I believe I am becoming a better person by spending time with them and getting to know them better.
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