As a senior, I have had the true fortune of living with the same people for almost all of my time at Georgetown. I often consider my roommates to be family, especially because my biological family live on the opposite side of the country in Oregon. Undoubtedly, my friends have had the greatest role in shaping my time on the Hilltop and have highlighted for me just how vital these relationships can be.

Yet these relationships can be difficult to maintain as our identities and personalities shift over time. When we fail to maintain these perpetually dynamic friendships, however, we risk losing an irreplaceable source of support, happiness and personal well-being.

Our friendships are among the most important relationships in our lives. My friends have acted as my sounding boards, sources of inspiration and support systems throughout my time at Georgetown. For me and many others, these strong and distinct bonds of fellowship hold a special place in our hearts.

Beyond just personal experience, there is empirical evidence demonstrating that strong friendships help us live longer: One study published in PLOS Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal, showed that “stronger social relationships” lowered risk of mortality, affecting it to a similar degree as avoiding “well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption.”

Amid busy schedules, endless midterms and the preliminary job hunt, on occasion we naturally put our friendships on hold as we handle our stress and our troubles. Still, the blame for strained relationships lies with more than just conflicting calendars and a shortage of hours in the day. It can also be attributed to the tensions that arise when these friendships — or rather, the friends themselves — change.

It can be difficult to accept this fact. I’ve had the good fortune of living around the same people throughout college, and it is truly laughable to think back on our freshman selves in comparison to the people we are now as seniors. As we constantly learn and grow throughout college, we inevitably develop new interests, opinions and goals over time. Often, it is not until we are separated from our friends that the significance of these changes, no matter how small, becomes apparent.

The ever-evolving nature of friendship was most prominently brought to my attention when my roommates and I were separated last semester as we all studied abroad. The difficulty of the time apart was compounded by our collective experiences of loss, heartbreak, rejection and the monster that is the LSAT law school aptitude test, all of which drastically affected our identities. Now that we are reunited, our differences in comparison to last year are evident, forcing us to refamiliarize ourselves with each other, which is not always an easy process.

The depth and intricacies of our identities cannot be conveyed through Snapchats and group texts. When we are separated from our friends, we are forced to exist and overcome personal challenges without them, which can make the future reunion tricky to navigate.

No one ever said friendships are easy. In fact, they require an incredible amount of work. In our busy lives, it is sometimes tempting to go for a run by ourselves or watch Netflix alone rather than make the effort to grab that coffee or dinner with a friend. The payoff of nurturing these friendships, however, is clearly important both for our social lives and our well-being.

Ultimately, friendships are invaluable sources of support, encouragement and inspiration. As life repeatedly proves how messy it can be, it is important for our personal well-being that we continue fostering the relationships with the people closest to us. Even more imperative, though, are our active efforts to be good friends by supporting those who matter to us as they hone their identities. As we all grow and change, we must ensure that we allow our friendships to grow with us.

Taylor Harding is a senior in the College. Contributing a Verse appears online every other Monday.

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