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loveallurfriends by Shorna A. '25


Now Playing: Talk to Me – Cavetown


I stared at the river for a while a few days ago. I probably should’ve been doing other things; I had a CV PSET that I had not yet started, and I ought to have been sitting in my room reading the problems. I ignored this and walked along Memorial Drive on the trip back from the UA Meeting. The weather, for the first time in a while, was crisp and cool, the temperature at which you mentally thank the breeze for kissing your skin. I strolled right past Next, crossed the street, descended into the foliage by the Charles, and sat on a large rock.

Bodies of water have an unwritten contract: if you look at them for long enough, they will implore you to think. After hastily clicking through the 6.031 Reading (I’ll have to actually read it in the morning), I removed my airpods, turned off my phone, and watched the scintillations on the surface of the river. 

I was tired. This is unsurprising; it had been a long day and my sleep schedule had been thoroughly destroyed by an inconveniently timed interview. I inhaled what felt like my first breath of the day as the stress of the past few weeks settled deep into my chest.

I was not sad. There was no trademark hollowness. I perhaps felt as if I had been full, until that moment, of too many things. Finding time is hard, nowadays. This semester is far and away my busiest at MIT, having become president of my dorm, picking up a minor role in a musical, and taking six classes. Many days start with a lecture at 9:30 and aren’t over until my last meeting is, up to 12 hours later. This isn’t a complaint. I willingly picked up all these things, and I genuinely like and/or care about all of them. I’m glad to have all of these opportunities to do cool things.

It is strange to feel that there is only ever one thing on your mind, though. That behind the endless meetings, the rigid calendar, the hasty email responses, the skimmed readings, the rushed PSET write ups, all there ever is to think about is people. 

Interpersonal relationships are really remarkably difficult. I often wonder exactly what friendships are even supposed to look like. I’ve been told that my standards for feeling close to other people are too high. The fact that no one will ever fully understand another person bothers me a lot. People are so complex, so variable, with such long histories. Grasping someone on an atomic level, perhaps even grasping oneself to the fullest extent, is nearly impossible. All relationships come with inbuilt upper bounds, which is a fact of life that drives me absolutely insane.

They weren’t lying when they said college friends are the ones you keep. I have friends who have graduated and still get practically stream-of-consciousness information about my day. I’ve divulged things to my friends that I never thought I’d tell another living soul. They’ve helped me get through the hardest times of my life, and I like to tell myself, at least, that I’ve done the same for them.

There are things that I want to be able to do for my friends, responsibilities that I expect myself to fulfill. Friends themselves are in many ways responsibilities – I am thoughtful and care deeply about all of them, there are many which must be balanced, and if any one goes neglected for too long, bad things happen. I worry a lot about my friends, too. Not, really, in the direct sense of being concerned about their ability to take care of themselves, but I certainly worry about my ability to take care of them. I want to be the person whose door they can knock on. I want to be reliable and available and helpful. I want to be able to shoulder what they need me to. 

Platonic relationships are powered on love just as much as romantic relationships are; being friends with someone is a commitment, in a similar way. I will be there for your bests and your worsts. Yes, you can be falling apart. No, I will not think any less of you for it. 

And I think love must be in the little things, right? I text a lot, mostly about inane things. The little blue bubbles are actually wrappers for secret messages. “look at this cute frog sticker!” I am thinking of you. “hi :oo” I hope you’re doing well, and I want to see you.  “I’ve been crying a lot.” I feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you. “I really have to do laundry.” I would like to talk to you about even the most mundane parts of our existence.

I want to always love people carefully, both in choosing who I love carefully and in loving them with special care. Every week, I have nine meals blocked into my calendar for the people in my life, to ensure that I will see them. I am mindful about reaching out to people. I try really hard to make time.

But what if it still goes wrong? How many people is it possible for me to reasonably support? What if I am not there when I am needed? Am I doing this right? Am I doing this well? And perhaps, am I living correctly on the whole? I am trying to do so many things, and I want to do them all well. Am I doomed to fail something or someone? When will I drop and shatter something indispensable? It is hard to feel out of your depths. Being looked to for help or direction is more than a little terrifying.

And, on the whole I have not a single answer. The moral? I do not know how to do this correctly, but I am trying quite hard. There is great earnestness in that. I am running on nothing but good will, effort, and some semblance of experience. I hope I can do this right. I hope it is enough.