We all know first impressions and interactions with new housemates can be a quick indicator of the future type and quality of relationship you will have.
So naturally I was excited when the super attractive girl down the hall popped into my room to ask if I had a screwdriver. While I was empty-handed in the tool department (I bet there’s a self-deprecating joke in there somewhere), I did contribute some witty banter and navigated the standard “how was your summer?” questions (with impressive beginning-of-the-year enthusiasm). After the laughter and conversation subsided, I extended my hand and said all smooth-like, “By the way, I don’t think we’ve met yet. My name’s Chase.” It was soooo smooth.
She batted her eyes, blushed a bit and with her mouth slightly ajar responded, “Are you [cuss]ing serious! [Cuss] you Chase!” Not so smooth.
It turns out I had spent my entire freshman year on Frosh Council with this girl — an entire year — and had forgotten her name. Not so smooth at all. After the embarrassment withdrew from my face and the feeling of being a complete asshole settled firmly into the pit of my stomach, I apologized and promised I would make it up to her. (Phase one of making it up to her, calling her “super attractive” in a school-wide publication. Smooth.)
I’m learning there’s a difference between knowing people and really knowing people. It’s one thing to ask, “What’s your major?” to fill small talk. It’s another to ask, “Why do you want to major in that?” because you really want to get to know a person. And when others ask how you’re doing, you’re allowed to answer something other than, “Pretty good, you?”
There’s a difference between loving people and loving yourself through people. In my two years at Stanford, I’ve primarily been guilty of the latter. I was making efforts to befriend people, but not to be a good friend. It was so I could feel comfortable. I could stop into rooms and have surface-level conversations. I could go to parties with people and then recount all the shenanigans the next morning at brunch. I was getting to know people so that I wouldn’t feel alone at Stanford, and once they stopped serving that purpose, they were replaced. Gone. Forgotten.
They say there’s no dating culture at Stanford. They say people don’t have time to date. The underlying statement is that people don’t have the time or energy to spare from preparing for school and careers to spend loving or caring about another person. The result is “harmless hook-ups,” which is rarely loving another person and more often than not loving yourself through another person.
But back to business; this is an article on friendship, not dating. (You win again, rambling ADD brain.) I am realizing how selfish I have been with my friendships. Rather than spending time and energy genuinely getting to know people, I have settled for “hooking up” with friends — and by that I mean developing and maintaining friendships only when it is comfortable and convenient for me. I have friends who I call when I want to talk music, go to the gym, play sports or borrow a car. But that is often the extent of it. Our paths are merely intersecting, rather than running parallel to each other (for you techies out there. I think that makes sense.)
Maybe it’s because I don’t want to sacrifice the time I dedicate to truly important things (sleeping through class, deleting spam emails, watching YouTube videos, sending spam emails, etc…).Maybe I’m afraid of depending on someone for fear they will let me down (like the Angels this season — another lonely postseason October ahead). Maybe I’m afraid of those friends getting too close to me and realizing that I’m not the put-together Stanford student I work so hard to display. I don’t know. Maybe I should read some Freud. I bet he could diagnose me and figure it out. (On second thought, let’s not go there.)
So I’ve resolved to do my best to truly love the people around me, for their sake. I don’t know about you. Maybe you’re getting an A+ in Friendship and you just think I suck. Maybe you feel betrayed because you expected a crazy “Friends With Benefits” or “No Strings Attached” story and wound up with a whiny, emo confessional about friendship. But maybe it’s something for you to think about.
If you have embarrassing forgetting people’s name stories, email Chase at ninjaish”at”stanford.edu.