‘Thank U, Next’: To friends I’ve loved, lost and gained

friendships and cutting ties
Nishali Naik/Staff

As a junior, I am told that I am at the crossroads of my college career. So, my mind drifts to foggy visions of my post-collegiate future — business-casual blazers, obnoxiously logoed mugs, a one-bedroom apartment and a skyline I can’t afford to see from my window.

While I am beside myself with wonder over my daydreams, I can’t help but ponder who will be beside me as I brave this new frontier.

Enchantment quickly gives way to anxiety. Who is to say the friends I love so fully and wholly will be the same friends I have a year from now? A semester? A month? I think of the people who have come and gone from my life. I look back at the relationships that have frayed and lapsed without my noticing and shield my eyes from an uncertain future with friends I may find or have already found.

Thought I’d end up with Sean / But he wasn’t a match

I’ve met many people throughout my time at Berkeley. There have been too many to remember, too many to befriend.

But I fall in love with pieces of people as easily as I find myself in their company. An awkward dance move, a terribly unfunny joke, a sly smile — before I know it, I’ve given a piece of myself to them, too. My friendships, all-powerful and all-consuming, have been my North Star when the going got tough; whenever all seemed lost, I could always look toward those I ardently adored to set me back on the right course.

So many of my great loves died as soon as they sprouted, however. One would pack up his things as soon as the class bell rang. Another had to return to her university after a summer in the Bay. Some simply faded into the background, leaving texts unread and plans unformulated.

On the flip side, many other friendships bloomed as I attached myself to my classmate during discussion, corralled a club member into ditching class for boba or laughed hysterically at everything and nothing while my big and I studied.

Wrote some songs about Ricky / Now I listen and laugh
Even almost got married / And for Pete, I’m so thankful

My quick, spontaneous loves would flourish into something stronger, more tangible. I would be filled with an effusive warmth whenever I was with them. I badgered them, asking when we would see each other next. I never once fooled myself into buying into the concept of “forever,” but I never disabused myself of that notion, either. Maybe it’s because I was afraid to think about an end.

Yet, with each semester, a few more friends step out of my life. When the tether of a common course or organization no longer tied us, my texts would get pushed down as new notifications took precedence over my “Hey, what have you been up to?” and “Do you want to hang out this weekend?” Before long, we were distant acquaintances who occasionally liked each other’s posts on our news feeds when, once, we would have spent hours sharing our grand aspirations on Memorial Glade, eating burritos from The Golden Bear café that were bigger than our faces.

And then, there were the most difficult goodbyes: the friends I had personally shown the door to once it became increasingly clear that I could no longer see them in my life. The person I am is no longer the person I was when I became friends with them — and when our values and compatibility no longer aligned, I learned that letting go was hard but necessary. For each departure, I felt a culmination of nostalgia for what had been and somberness over what could no longer be.

I’ve loved and I’ve lost / But that’s not what I see
So, look what I got / Look what you taught me

My life has never been so vibrant and rich as it has since I entered college, allowing all those who’ve entered my tiny corner to irrevocably color my world with their presence. I have never once regretted offering pieces of my heart to the beautiful strangers, classmates and friends who have crossed my path. No matter how infinitesimal our time together, I was bettered for having known them.

One taught me love / One taught me patience
And one taught me pain / Now, I’m so amazing

I am so grateful for every person I’ve met. My freshman year floormate taught me that it was indeed possible to down 10 shots at a fraternity party and not die trying. My club president taught me to go as far as my dreams would carry me and to have faith that they would not fail. My friends have taught me love, acceptance, anger, beauty, resilience, fear, tranquility, envy, balance, ambition, humor, stubbornness and foolhardiness. These are the pieces I will always carry with me.

Now, however, I am focusing on collecting the love I freely gave out and bringing it back to myself. A part of me aches to close myself off from the myriad people who I am all the more eager to fall in love with, but there is no need to keep continuously searching. I’m having better discussions with myself, walking across the glade — no face-sized burrito in hand — dreaming of an unfamiliar skyline in some metropolitan city.

They say I move on too fast / But this one gon’ last

And for that, I wanted to say to all the people I’ve met and to all the people I have yet to meet: thank you, and until I see you next.

Contact Fionce Siow at [email protected]