AHMED: Friendship critical for developing yourself individually

Column: The Unapologetic Writer

Many people tend to have idols or role models that they look up to because of the influence in their lives.

This person can sometimes be a professor who changed your life with one class, or sometimes it is a nurse who encouraged you to persevere and get that medical degree you are striving for, or maybe they are your parents who have just been your support system for everything you have done. 

It is funny because I never thought that my role models would end up being my friends. You think of your friends as people you hang out with due to the commonalities you share, but not so often do you honestly revere them for their specific qualities. And yet, I found myself in reverence of my friends, because they helped me discover my identity. 

My friends gave me the resources and the opportunity to find the missing puzzle piece that could make me my whole and complete self. My friends made me look at the world with a different perspective and allowed me to see things in the world I did not know existed and therefore needed to see or experience. This is a bit vague, so I will begin delving into the specifics of the message I am trying to get across. 

I have never felt confined or restricted from much, luckily. I was able to hang out with my friends, my curfew was more flexible than that of my friends, and I was able to participate in extracurriculars and clubs that involved more time and effort outside of regular school day hours. I went to a school that was very diverse and small, so everyone knew everyone, and everyone was friends with everybody. I had several great and wild experiences.

I had a great family, great friends, great school and great memories. When you hear someone say something like this, you would think their life is quite full and complete. Ideally, the puzzle pieces of their life fit perfectly — what more can one seek out in life? 

Well, that is precisely what I thought. I did not know anything was missing for me because I knew everything about my personality, I was set on what I wanted to do with my life, I had my fair share of wild and exotic experiences and I knew who my lifelong friends were. 

Or, so I thought. When I came to Rutgers, I still had the mindset of being content and being set with everything in my life, but more importantly, being content with my personality and myself. 

But, when I met my college friends, some of whom I had lived with my first year, I realized that there was so much missing in my life that I did not even know I was missing. I realized that I was confined by my unwillingness to take risks and burst out of my comfort zone, and it was through my friends that I was able to break through that bubble and discover my identity. 

My friends made me change my perspective on so much in the world, as broad as that may seem. I began taking more risks, and I did things that I never thought I would do. I made best friends who I would have never even thought would be in my life, nevertheless, be my best friends. I got to experience a sense of exhilaration I did not know I was missing. 

Though I have always been social and very extroverted, I stepped out of my comfort zone even more and became much more social and much more willing to meet people and gain more knowledge. If my high school self was told how much I have developed and changed, or if my high school self was told about all the risks and adventures I was embarking on now, she would say I was talking about someone she does not know. 

Though that may sound bad, I have come to realize that it is not. Seeing my personal growth has made me a firm believer that all change is good. Albeit, writing has been my favorite and preferred outlet to express all my thoughts and feelings, for once, I am overwhelmed with writer’s block. 

But it is not because I do not know what to write. Rather, it is because my writing cannot do these positively overwhelming feelings of happiness and growth and love any justice, as they cannot be put into words. 

Though it has barely been two years, if I try to thank them from today until the end of time for giving me this personal satisfaction and feeling of fullness, I genuinely do not think it would be enough. My friends have made me whole.

Laila Ahmed is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring  in information technology and informatics and English. Her column, “The Unapologetic Writer,” runs on alternate Thursdays.


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