What happens now that we’re all in long-distance friendships?

By GENEVIEVE HERRON

GENEVIEVE HERRON
“Like conversations held over Atwater breakfasts, or during the long walk from Allen to the AC, or even waiting for Proc paninis to be ready, letter writing is personal and intentional,” writes Genevieve Herron ’23.

The minute I found out we were leaving campus, I knew what I would miss the most: my friends. I felt a sympathetic pang for the seniors who I knew would be missing one of the final steps in their college careers. Then, I took a moment to feel for myself. My fellow first-years and I were also in a crucial developmental stage. I was just starting to get into the rhythm of the second semester. Feeling secure in my classes, I was excited for spring, and I wanted to dig deep into friendships that I felt were just beginning to grow stronger. 

But all of that was cut short.

I see myself mostly as an introvert. I like to spend time alone to recharge before I can engage in lots of social activity. That’s not to say that I don’t like to spend time with my friends (I do!), it’s just that I need more time than others to prevent myself from becoming overwhelmed. This particular trait has made college slightly difficult, as Midd often feels like a place where extroverts thrive from constant contact. And, as a first-year, coping with loneliness is a big part of learning how to navigate the college social scene. 

But being back home now, my biggest concern for my social life is: How do I build deeper connections with people I find special when I already find reaching out in-person difficult?

As my good friends know, I’m an analog person. I listen to music from the ’70s, I prefer calling over texting and my average daily screen time is rarely above 30 minutes. I try to stay off social media and prefer to live in the present and focus on those around me. This was easy when I was on campus, where many of my friends lived in my dorm or right nearby — but now, it is considerably more difficult without that physical connection. I have found myself using Snapchat and Instagram more often and being anxious to call people. I don’t want others to feel like I’m intruding, but I also crave a connection with the people I spent so much time with this year. It’s hard to find a balance; I don’t want to be seen as over-eager, yet I want to speak to my friends (even though my biggest update is that I finished re-reading another “Harry Potter” book). It’s during these times that I try to remind myself that if I got a FaceTime or phone call from one of my friends out of the blue, I would be excited to hear from them.

In the midst of all this chaos, I have found myself trying to reevaluate which aspects of the interweb and social media I actually value, and which ones get in the way of connecting with others. In order to have the most authentic, nitty-gritty and tangible mode of communication and friendship building I’ve been searching for, I have turned to snail mail. There’s nothing quite like sitting down and writing a letter to make you feel like you are actually connecting and communicating with a person. Letters can act as snapshots of what life is like in that moment. They can be saved and put in a box to be found years later, forever preserving that exchange. A letter is not a message that disappears after 10 seconds and it’s not a post sent en masse. Like conversations held over Atwater breakfasts, or during the long walk from Allen to the AC, or even waiting for Proc paninis to be ready, letter writing is personal and intentional. In this way, it reminds me of friendships at Midd; you know that you’re special when someone has taken the time to write a letter, address an envelope and run all over the house trying to find a stamp. So, give someone you care about that nice feeling and write a letter. 

Genevieve Herron is a member of the class of 2023.