One of the sections included in the annual Senior Edition is a series of essays titled Seniors Speak. These works are written and submitted to The Acronym by members of the graduating class, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, share advice, and advocate for change. The writer of this piece is Kanika Leang (UIUC ’23), who lived in 1506D wing during her senior year and served as CAB director.
Step One: Take Another Look
If you think all your friends will come from your classes or clubs, then you’re mistaken. Some of the friendliest faces I know are from every corner of the school.
I’ve only had two conversations with him, but Charlie the Security Guard never fails to put me in a good mood. He walks around the halls, the main building, and all over campus, but that doesn’t stop him from always smiling. If it’s bright and early and my eye bags sag lower than my posture, the only cure is a chipper “Good morning!” from the nice security guard. Maybe I don’t know his last name, but I assure you, Charlie and I are friends.
Ms. G is the secretary in the CAC office, but she doubles as the brightest person on campus. I’ve seen her rifle through her schedule, trying to find time to chaperone, or merely attend, student events. She has an obvious love for everyone and isn’t afraid to show it. All my visits to the CAC office include an updated picture of her grandchildren or getting to know about her day. The unmatched kindness and everyday conversations have kept me smiling all throughout college applications.
Amy Woods juggles SCC, Studco, and CAB to ensure students are having a good time despite the overflow of tests and homework. If there’s an unsung hero at IMSA, it’s her. As often as I’ll walk into her office and steal her strawberry Laffy Taffys, she’ll always greet me with a smile. I’ve learned to be the kind of leader I am from seeing Amy be so supportive, inclusive, and super awesome.
Your friends don’t have to be your age or have all the same interests as you. You can make friends through sheer kindness; you just have to look. The best people are in all types of places, and they can have a bigger impact on your life than you think.
Step Two: Don’t Forget Who’s Been There
There’s a natural excitement that comes with meeting new people, whether it be as an incoming sophomore at IMSA, a freshman in college, or even sitting at a new math table. While it’s fun getting to know new people and the interesting bits of their lives, save time for the people whose lives you already know everything about. They won’t always be at the forefront of your mind because these are the people who are staples in your life. Don’t forget to keep up with the people who’ve walked you through your most difficult times: your roommate, your parents, or your friends from home. These are the people who’ve always been by your side, and while they might not be telling you about their vacation in the Bahamas like your new friends, they’re big parts of your life. I had this realization at the beginning of junior year. Personally, I’ve never been super close with my parents, and I just got to this point where I expected kindness, rides home, snacks etc. as the bare minimum of parenting, but that’s not fair. How could I have an expectation for the kind of parents they should be when I wasn’t reciprocating? If I continued to take my parents for granted the way I had been, our already weak relationship would completely detach. I want to actively keep these staple people in my life, because I couldn’t imagine who I’d be without them. So, slowly but surely I did things I know they’d appreciate like going places with them, cleaning, and cooking. Try to recognize the little things that these highly important people do for you and take the time to return the favor.
Step Three: Keep it Kind
In a friendship, there are two people involved: yourself and your friend! Often you’ll listen to them, make sure they’re alright, and care a whole lot. Yet, how often do you do that for yourself? Something I’ve encountered a lot at IMSA is self-deprecation. It comes in different forms, one example being calling yourself an idiot while dealing with a failed math test. I’ve learned to cope with this problem by asking myself: would I ever call my friend an idiot for failing a math test? And I know that I wouldn’t. If your friend has failed, you wouldn’t press on their wounds to make it hurt more, so why is it fair that you’ll do that to yourself? Disrespecting yourself is just as cruel, and can be just as hurtful, as disrespecting another person. Friendship will teach you lots of things, like appreciation and understanding, but applying those lessons not only to your friends but yourself as well is what makes you friendship material. It’s important to be kind, especially to yourself.
Step Four: Trust Yourself
When it comes down to it, you’re rockin. Go find someone and ask to be friends, they’d be lucky to have you. And while I’m here…
Wanna be friends?