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Befriend Responsibly

By Jamie Rodney

Yeah, I’m back. And yeah, I’m going to talk about myself again.

However, this time I thought I’d put some kind of twist on things. So instead of giving you a mostly-irrelevant and poorly-thought-out anecdote about my time at University, I’m going to give you a mostly-irrelevant and poorly thought-out anecdote about my time at Primary School.

I think it’s fair to say that I was a fairly awkward child. I didn’t so much struggle to make friends as struggle to strike up casual acquaintances. I didn’t like people much, and the feeling was entirely mutual. There have probably been more than enough heart-rending descriptions of loneliness written on this blog by others to make another one by me entirely superfluous, so instead I’ll just say I had imaginary friends until I was about 18, and that I actually used to talk to them in public until I was 15. (The lack of friends I had at school is suddenly starting to make sense.) While I was less bereft of companionship at High School than I was at primary school, I was still really bad at talking to people, and spent an unreasonable amount of time regretting things I had, or had not said in conversations.

However, this all began to change very quickly when I got to St Andrews. Maybe it was just late-onset maturity, maybe all my practice at desperately trying to get people to like me started to pay off. I went from awkward fresher, to semi-competent second-year, to moderately popular third year. So, that’s good. Happy ending. Sorry, the old Jamie can’t come to the phone right now. Because he’s dead.

Except, that’s not the end of the story, and not just because I didn’t want to end on that Taylor Swift reference.

Because, unfortunately, just because you’ve learned to make friends doesn’t mean that you’re now on an even footing with those that learned to do so earlier. Remember your first few nights out on Fresher’s week. I can bet with more or less complete confidence that the people who got the most completely sloshed came from countries with higher drinking age laws. (Singling out no country in particular.) That’s because- cue the lights- being more used to alcohol increases your ability to consume it without ill effects.

Now, I know that that news exists on the same plane as “The pope is a Catholic” and “Dervish is better than Empire” in the gamut of obvious statements, but there’s still a serious point to be taken from this.

Friendship is like alcohol consumption. No, really, I mean it. Consume too much, too fast, and bad stuff can happen. Consume irresponsibly, and you get addicted. Consume without thinking, and it impairs your decision making abilities.

So, while I’ve made more friends this past semester or so that I had previously, I’ve also made more bad decisions, had more drama and annoyed more people that I have over the course of the rest of my life.

Now, this could just be because I’m a shitty person, (and I am), but this experience isn’t unique to me. I know a lot of people- and so do you, probably- who’ve gone through most of their lives without many friends, and then get intoxicated when they suddenly get them. Friends who have fucked themselves over in order to keep their new friends. Friends who have fucked their new friends over because lack of experience with friendship meant they didn’t know how not to.

I don’t have a solution, but we need to acknowledge it’s a problem.

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