The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Personal Essay: Sole student in the friend group

3 min read

Isolation has distanced friend groups, not just physically | Andrew Neel/Pexels

PAUL THOMAS

Staff Writer

Throughout my life, I have always kept a small circle of friends. I found that large groups of friends have always led to drama, or I’ve been unable to keep up with everyone, and the friendship fades. Having fewer friends allowed for me to be closer and have better relationships with each person, and it was great. That is, until about the last year or so.

 I live in Culpeper; I am a commuter to UMW and have been for the last two years. My time on campus has been an unforgettable experience. During my first semester, I made several friends through my courses, and had multiple classes with a few of them. While we were still in classes on campus, it was easier to tackle projects together and keep each other motivated with a common goal. Everything changed with the transition to online learning.

 Being 100 percent online for the last eight months has not been all bad. The transition allows me to not have to wake up at 5 a.m. to be on time for my 8 a.m. at Woodard, nor do I have to deal with traffic around Fredericksburg. Being online also allows me to be a little bit more comfortable while I am doing schoolwork. To top it all off, not having a commute allows me to work more and spend less, which gave me the ability to buy a new car.

The only problem is my small circle of friends here at home has left me feeling isolated.

My friends here are amazing, and I genuinely enjoy their company, but none of them are in college. Some of them work in corrections, others fire and rescue, but none are college students. Of my group, only three people went to community college and made it no further because they found other things that they wanted to do and enjoyed doing, which at the end of the day is completely fine.  

 While this never bothered me before, the transition has caused some loneliness, as well as a lack of interest and motivation in my studies. Being the only one of my friend group still having to spend all my free time doing homework and studying has caused me to be unable to spend time with them. As I sit and do work, I can see through social media that they are enjoying themselves, and it makes me wish that instead of completing assignments I was out with them, having fun. Some days I wake up and do not want to go to class or even attempt homework. I have not spent more than 30 minutes with a friend in several weeks due to trying to keep up with work and school, and it wears on you after a while. In the last year, I have missed a few major events, such as some of my friends getting married and even one friend expecting a child in a few short months.

Thankfully, my friends are good ones. Having friends is so important, and supportive friends even more so.  Even though we do not see each other with any sort of frequency, they always ask how it’s going when we do. The relationships we have built over time have proven that even if we do not see each other for months at a time, when we do it’s right back to the same old thing, and that is amazing to me.

 Even with these feelings, I will continue to stay steady in my resolve. With this year being my senior year, it is more important now than ever before to keep working, because each day that passes is one step closer to completion. While I may not have much time, I know that my friends will be here when it’s over, and that is motivation enough to keep powering through.

 I hope that each person that is in a similar situation to mine is having a better time or is at least finding ways to cope with the situation since it is what we must do. For professors and other faculty, I personally thank each of you for all of the work you have done to make sure that we have the ability to learn even with the changes in the last year. For juniors and lower, keep working because it will pay off. For seniors, each one of us has worked far too hard to not finish strong.

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