College is the time when most people would say they become independent. Moving away from home and becoming responsible can hit as hard as the studying and the late nights. Independence is definitely a big part of college life, but I would argue that cooperation is an even bigger part.
The prime example of this: roommates. I have a single room, but I live on a floor, and share a bathroom, with 18 other girls. Needless to say, in order to coexist, it’s necessary to bend a little. Besides roommates, there’s classmates. College classes make you relate to people and communicate ideas, sometimes for a group project or just for class discussions. Besides classmates, there’s the community, where you’re forced to interact with all types of people in all types of situations.
The key to this mix of cooperation and independence is learning to bend without breaking. It’s easy to decide that the right people will cooperate with you without much effort. In the end, however, that’s not where the strongest relationships are built. The tightest friends are made because they click or have chemistry– that’s true– but they sacrifice for each other. It’s healthy to make a conscious decision to have people like this in your life. These are the people who will be there when you break, and won’t hesitate to help you put yourself back together.
College life is about learning that your independence helps define who you are, but doesn’t define your future. God created us to, “bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Often, my friends and I will discuss how we seem to have gotten so close in such a short period of time. I believe this is because we’ve seen each other truly and honestly broken. There’s something about that level of honesty you encounter with a person that goes deeper than anything they could ever say or even admit. And after being at that level of honesty yourself, you find that the person who loves you through it is a person you want to fight to keep around.
The thing about life away from home is that it teaches everyone to be a little more flexible. The more often you bend, the easier it becomes. But the other thing about life away from home is that you’re almost guaranteed to break. The amazing thing about college, is that it’s okay. Everyone’s either there or been there.
So, in the midst of independence, and discovery, don’t be afraid to bend a little.