Different

Guys, this is the time we part ways.

Since Kindergarten we’ve been brought up as equals, right? Everyone in the classroom is exactly the same, though special in our own way, but most importantly, identical in that we were all equally unique. 

I mean sure, there was the GRO programs (for my district, anyway) in elementary school. We ‘graduated’ and was awarded with “honors” classes in middle school, and finally AP classes in the last few years of high school. But it was different – the gap between “honors” and “non-honors” kids was the only one visible, and any gap between the “honors” kids went unnoticed.

When you were in a certain category, the vast majority of the time your friends tended to be there with you. There are exceptions, of course, but those are only just exceptions. I essentially went through the four years of high school with the same friends by my side, from morning till night. We split up for the different language courses and at times, electives, but other than those minor differences, our classes and teachers, if not necessarily schedules, looked almost identical.

Then, senior year rolls around and we all start the whole college thing. Applying for different places, asserting our differences in a sea of indistinguishable applications and resumes. Some, like me, went the “business-y” route (though that in and of itself is a huge category that shouldn’t even be considered in the same arena). Others went engineering. Still others knew what they wanted to do in grad school but had no idea how to spend the four years that would lead up to it. Most of our friends stayed at least along the East coast, but there were inevitably a few that we lost to sunny California, among other places.

A year into college, we were apart but not so separate. I kept in touch (or at least tried to) with my best friends from high school. People met up when they went home and enjoyed each others’ company. We were still “friends who had been separated”. And maybe that’s still true now…for some of us.

But this is the beginning of the end, so to speak.

It’s just…not sensible to think that we’re all going to have so much to talk about in the years to come. Education will play a huge part of this – maybe four years ago we were able to complain about the same teachers and cram for the same material. The only comparison we had to each other was grades, and even that was kept to a minimum. But now there’s the different schools, the different prestige, the different level of education. Some of us are going to stop after undergrad, and some will go on to receive their PhDs.

A difference in education obviously leads to a difference in jobs – will the time come when the method of comparison won’t be what grade you got on that one test, but how much you make a year? What kind of car you drive? How much you paid for your house?

Then there’s the very practical issue of geography. I only realized recently that I will never spend a consecutive month with the same people, seven hours a day, five days a week, ever again. After 15 years of public schooling, that’s maybe unsurprisingly still odd to accept.

Maybe some of you (who are my friends) think I’m being unfair. think I’m being unfair, to an extent. We don’t know what the future holds for us, and I’m not giving us a chance. But if you do know me, you know that’s exactly how I roll. My apologies in advance. It’s just that even now, I find it somewhat difficult at times to talk to those people I used to spend hours upon hours talking to. They, after all, have different interests, different friends, a different life than what we had shared. I can’t be there when they receive a less than satisfactory mark on a paper for some class that I couldn’t even remember the name of if I tried.

I can’t understand what they’re going through when engineering students try telling me about their classes or their projects. I have no idea what ‘s going on in their lives other than what they choose to tell me (or not). And I shouldn’t, because we don’t share one like we used to. Soon the difference will be a digit in our paychecks, not just on a marking period average. And I suppose thirty years down the road we might as well still be great friends…but we may not. Their Facebook walls are full of posts from people that I no longer recognize, profile pictures taken with faces I’ve never seen. And I suppose when I look at my own it’s the same way…it just feels so much stranger when it’s someone else’s. You know what I mean, right?

And what happens when we graduate from college? Just the same thing, again. What’s the point? I’ll just wait till I have a job and I’m married to make friends.

I guess what I’m trying to say is – it only just hit me, but we’re not all equally unique anymore.

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