Feb 27, 2008
In my last article, I discussed the importance of having solid friends for support in college life. In this article, I want to examine some of the challenges of college friendships.
One of the biggest adjustments for incoming college students is the lack of privacy. In high school, students are generally able to end a busy day of classes and after-school activities by going home to a relatively peaceful household, and spending time alone and with their families. In college, however, there is no such thing as “alone time.” Dorm life is hardly ever quiet or peaceful. It can be difficult to make the transition into a world in which one is around other people all the time. Yet that is what college life is for many incoming students who live in dorms or apartments. Students spend all their time surrounded by their peers: they go to classes together, study together, eat together in a large cafeteria, spend their free time together, and share a common bathroom. Even when they are sleeping, they are not alone; they most likely have one or more roommates sleeping in the same room.
Spending all of your time with other people can be difficult. Even if you are friends with your roommates, it can be tough to be surrounded by them all day, every day. Disagreements are inevitable when you spend so much time with the same people: lack of sleep, stress, and moodiness can all contribute to irritability. If you are not careful, intense arguments can break out, even among the closest of friends. Therefore, one of the greatest challenges for incoming college students is figuring out how to maintain control when tempers run high.
Patience is the key to successfully living in close quarters with other people and is one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul tells us, “A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness” (2 Tim 2:24-25). Patience is what allows us to deal with our friends when they irritate us, forgive them when they wrong us, and work through difficult times with compassion and understanding. Therefore, patience is a vital virtue in helping us make it through our college years.