The Crimson's Freshman Survey: Meet the Class of 2024
Markey Defeats Kennedy in Race for Democratic U.S. Senate Nomination
Cyclist Victim Identified in Fatal Harvard Square Collision
Harvard Global Health Institute Director Ashish Jha Leaves Harvard to Helm Brown School of Public Health
Harvard Researchers Develop Potential Virus-Neutralizing Purifier Inspired by Butterfly Wings
It is sadly time to say goodbye.
Goodbye to the “hey, how ya doing?” friend. Farewell to the smile and wave boy. See you never to the quick chat in line for the waffle maker girl. And yes, so long to the “let’s grab a meal” squad.
For most of the student body, this will be a semester, if not a year, of remoteness. Yes, physically remote from the campus we usually call home, but also emotionally remote from the varying ties that bond us as a community.
When we think of our Harvard communities, most likely the first thought is of our blockmates, our best friends, the one professor with the life-changing class. But what about the acquaintances? The almost friend you had a class with freshman year or the ex-roommate you don’t really talk to anymore. These more distant relations anchor you to the larger context of a university experience. These are the people with whom your bond is not quite strong enough to last a quarantine. These are the people we have to say goodbye to.
While much bigger problems may be afoot, it is okay to take a moment to mourn this loss. We are all losing the semester we expected, and therefore losing people we thought we would have more time with.
Not all relationships can withstand distance; it is a fact of life. Some relationships are a matter of convenience and some a matter of circumstance. This is perfectly fine. Relationships come into our lives to serve a purpose, to serve a moment in time. Some adapt to support multiple stages in life, but there are relationships that contribute to who we are for one season and fade to black the next. All this is the way of the world. There is a time and a place for everything. In truth, this is what would happen in all our post-grad lives.
Then what’s the big deal? Why does this loss seem to hurt more?
It is because we were not done yet.
These acquaintanceships still stood a chance. There was time for them to develop and grow into friendships. There was time for them to contribute a little bit more, to push our perspectives a little bit farther. So much can change in a semester. A semester is all it takes for someone you barely know to become your best friend. For this, we can allow a moment of sadness.
Moment’s over. Now what?
It is time to make a choice. You already know which friends have been important enough to keep in contact with over quarantine. You’ve been maintaining these friendships by force over the past six months. Now is the time to assess the rest of your Rolodex and decide if there is anyone else you want to commit to. Is there someone with enough potential that you are willing to send the first text?
In the comfort of a community, relationships can just happen. You run into someone enough times, and suddenly you know them. They are a part of your life in some way. But in this new world of social distancing and remote learning, relationships are a choice. An effort. A commitment. Things are not so easy anymore.
We need to take advantage of the new methods of connection we have. It is much easier to sit quietly in a Zoom breakout room and let the clock tick until you go back to lecture. It is much easier to skip the online HoCo meetings and virtual entryway hangouts. It is harder to put yourself out there, to stoke the conversation, to show up.
Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. In fact, it can’t if we have any hope of staying sane. If there was ever something to work hard for, it is this: keeping our networks strong, supporting ourselves and each other.
So, we may mourn the disappointment of fallen expectations and the comfort of broad circles. We also turn our focus to the potentiality of new relationships on the horizon. We may have fewer members of our circle of friends, but hopefully, with enough will power, we can build stronger bonds that will stand the test of time and space.
Romy Dolgin ’21, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a Linguistics concentrator in Lowell House.
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.