I think the most surprising development in college so far is how well I’ve been getting along with boys platonically. I might even go as far to say that being finally able to befriend guys has been the best development of my college life so far.
If you haven’t caught wind of this from my confused ramblings and angsty poetry, plainly, I’ve had very complicated feelings for guys. During high school psych, we briefly touched on a Freudian theory* about how elementary-age boys and girls are repulsed by each other. You know, that “cooties” stage. I think that in many ways, I’ve failed to grow out of that phase. Girls are complimentary, sensitive, nice — so easy to talk and relate to. Most boys, meanwhile, are untidy, arrogant, vulgar, emotionally-constipated, and vapid. For a long time, I saw very little appeal in boys.
There was one exception of course: I’m hopelessly, ridiculously attracted to them.
So for a long time, I’ve been both too disgusted by boys to befriend them, and also too in love to befriend them. This pretty much explains why I only had one guy in high school — he was completely unattractive to me, and we ended up having a falling-out anyway. Before college, I dreaded living in that same awkward limbo forever.
So during orientation week, I tried my best to reverse my hostile attitude and be nice to my male hallmates. Sometimes they would clump in Chang’s room and loudly joke about Harambe, and I would feel the resentment building up like acid indisgestion. Harambe, for God’s sake! But I swallowed it down and acted sociable. And it was working. They wouldn’t call me their best friend, but I was finally getting chummy with some of the guys in my dorm.
So the guys liked me, but not nearly as much as they liked Melissa and Nina, the roommates down the hall. Chang and Pat, especially, made their room their gaming/eating/napping area, thanks to the girls’ generous hospitality. It was endearing and fun during orientation, but shit started to hit the fan when school started up again, you know, academics mattered again.
After seeing a sleep-deprived and sick Melissa, I stormed into Pat’s room one day. “You guys really need to give Nina and Melissa a break. You shouldn’t assume their room like it’s yours,” I said.
“What do you mean? They’ve never kicked us out. They like hanging out with us.”
“Yeah, but you’re definitely exploiting their hospitality. This is college, not summer camp. You go too hard.”
The boys snickered. “I actually don’t think we go hard enough,” Chang said sarcastically. “Pat, we should really start bringing in the hard drugs.”
“We should pull two all-nighters. In a row.”
They had this stupid banter exchange for a full minute, each suggestion escalating with absurdity, each snicker increasing my annoyance.
“Well, it’s great that you don’t take your friends’ well-being seriously,” I snapped, interrupting them. I turned on my heel briskly walked out of room.
As I left, my face was burning with anger and embarrassment. There I go again. I ruined it! This is why I didn’t have any real guy friends in high school. Yeah, I could point my finger at typical male stereotypes, but I knew it was really my uptight and unpalatable personality all along. I’m too shrill and overbearing to have a chance.
I bemoaned this to my girl friends during dinner. “Boys don’t like being told that they’re wrong,” they said. “That’s not really how they communicate. Maybe you should’ve approached it differently.”
I felt hopeless. “But I don’t have enough chill to be like that,” I said. I thought that maybe I should construct an apology, but ended up not even trying — I still felt my anger was justified. I resigned to the idea that I’d only be friends with girls for the rest of my life.
The next time I saw Chang and Pat, they were by the elevators, apparently about to go somewhere. We noticed each other, but I didn’t say anything, waiting for them to exchange a snarky glance and give me a cold shoulder.
“Michele, we’re going to Wawa,” Chang said. “Want to come?”
And so I think I’ve finally figured out how to be friends with boys. Yeah, they’re more offensive and vulgar, but because of that they’re more forgiving, too. They accept flaws because they’re exposed to the flaws of their peers and confident in their own. As a result, I can sometimes be more candid with guys, when I’d otherwise be ashamed to be so honest with a girl. You can also insult guy friends a lot more, which is so fun.
And I’ve got to give the guys here credit, too. For some reason, the males of my high school were aloof and pretentious. Here, I have never felt looked down upon by a guy friend. My guy friends are multi-faceted, hilarious, and sensitive. May many more good memories come 🙂
*I spent a considerable time googling this but couldn’t find it. So there’s a fair chance I remembered this completely wrong.