Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — do you wanna be friends?

By Juliana Morello, Staff Columnist

I’m gonna jump right into it — I graduate from Pitt in two weeks, and I’m still not great at making friends. While I can admit that I don’t recognize the girl that moved into Holland Hall four short years ago, college, unsurprisingly, didn’t completely change my personality. Sure, I’m more outgoing now than I was then — thank God — but I still find it hard to reach out to people, as much as I might want to.

As someone who craves close-knit, lasting relationships, I’m constantly kicking myself for times I could have done more but didn’t. I hate the feeling of regret and missed opportunity. I keep replaying the things I could have said and the things I should have done. I hate thinking about every opportunity I’ve had, every friend I could have made, every experience we could have shared but didn’t, all because I was too scared.

But I’m also sick of being regretful. I’m sick of beating myself up for not being best friends with every person I’ve ever met over the past four years. More than anything, I’m sick of not making a change. I refuse to regret things anymore. Rather, I refuse to allow myself to create situations I know I will regret later.

Here’s the thing — when you get to the point where you’re graduating soon, you realize that none of it really matters. I have a meager two weeks before the semester ends — two short weeks to right every wrong, to correct every regret I have, before the majority of the people I’ve seen these past four years move onto bigger and better things. Two weeks is admittedly not a lot of time, especially with things like finals to focus on. But, I have two weeks nevertheless. Thus, I have a proposition.

I think we should be friends. I mean, we both go to Pitt, so we have at least one thing in common. And, realistically, what do you have to lose? If it goes well, you’ve gained a new friend! And if it goes terribly, well, I graduate in two weeks, so the chances of us crossing paths again are pretty slim.

I can accept it if we don’t mesh well — though it’s highly doubtful. What I can’t accept is the idea of not even giving it a shot. Similarly, if you’ve ever had a crush on me, now’s the time to tell me.

There are countless people I see around campus here and there, people I’ve seen over the past four years and who I could have talked to at some point, but didn’t. Pitt Missed Connections has nothing on me. I have too many missed connections to name, but I’ll do my best.

First year, there was a boy who lived on my floor who’s now roommates with a friend of mine. I didn’t wave to you when I saw you in Posvar, and that’s my bad. But why haven’t we ever talked? We’re obviously both good judges of character.

A year ago, the cute guy at Phat’s I played cornhole with — you wore a gray quarter-zip. Let’s hang out and go thrifting. To the girl in my journalism class who wrote about her grandparents — I loved your stories. Let me take you to my favorite Pittsburgh bookstore. There was a guy in writing class who practiced stand-up comedy, who I walked home with a few times — I’d love to watch one of your sets. Another guy in that class who played Frisbee — we should throw some time.

The guy who went on a date with my ex-boyfriend’s friend’s ex-girlfriend, who we saw at the pumpkin patch — I told you I liked your brown jacket, and I still do. At a Pitt football game, we jumped around together in the pouring rain to celebrate the win and we both got on the jumbotron. I see you on Fifth at the bus stop all the time, and reading on Cathy lawn. Let’s hang out and talk about the books we’re reading.

Every single person in my Italian class last spring — I was too scared to talk to you, and I think I came off as a little abrasive, but I wish I piped up in your conversations about BeReal and Sicily and Quidditch. I was experiencing some pretty intense anxiety — thanks, COVID-19 — but I wish I pushed through it. I see you around, at Gene’s and Tequila Cowboy and in Schenley, and I genuinely think we would get along really well. Let’s go to Mercurio’s or practice our Italian.

My neighbors across the street, who are always grilling on their porch — I have a bunch of Omaha burgers in my freezer, let’s combine forces. My neighbors to the right, with the foosball table on their balcony — that’s genius, can I come play? My neighbors down the street, who are always playing beer die in their parking lot — my friend thinks you’re cute, and I think we could beat you. Let’s play sometime.

I’m not even that picky. If we have ever met — and I mean ever — we should be friends. If we’ve ever sat near each other on the 71B, if we ever rode in the same elevator in the WPU, if I ever stood behind you in line at Dunkin’ — hell, even if I just walked past you on Forbes and smiled — let’s be friends.

If I’ve ever taken a picture of you with my digital camera, at football games or bars or anywhere else, let’s be friends. I’ll take some more. If we’ve ever been in a group project together, I think we should be friends. You’ve got my number, or at least my GroupMe. If we follow each other on Instagram but have never actually held a conversation, we should be friends.

I had a teacher in high school tell me that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but that the second best time is now. I’ve since Googled that quote and found it attributed to some unnamed Chinese philosopher, but I’ve gotta hand it to my teacher. It’s because of him that I finally understand, over four years later, that anything — literally anything — is better late than never.

In the grand scheme of things, are you going to regret going up to someone and starting a conversation, not knowing where it will go? Or will you regret never talking to them, never knowing how it ends, never taking the time to find out? I know my answer.

So, please take what I’ve learned, if you can. I might have needed my impending graduation to light a fire under me and help me appreciate the chances I’ve been given to make lasting memories, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Even if you don’t want to be friends with me — how rude — there are tons of people at Pitt, and in the world, who are waiting for you to just give it a chance.

I wish I’d had this mentality earlier, but it’s easier said than done. I didn’t, and there’s no use crying over it. Sure, I could spend the rest of my life wishing things went differently — what if COVID never happened? What if I didn’t have a boyfriend going into my first year? What if I joined more clubs and actually stuck with them? Or I could actively make the changes in my life that I wish I made then. I still get scared, don’t get me wrong — but I’m trying to view everything as a learning experience. Rejection doesn’t scare me nearly as much as it used to, and I call that a win.

As much as it might feel like everyone’s got their established groups of friends and that they don’t need any more, I’m here to tell you that that’s not true, and that it’s never too late. I mean, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself, and I’d be lucky to have you as a friend. I have so much love to give, and so much left to experience, and I think we should do it together.

So, I will leave you with this, and allow you to make an educated decision. Here is an unfinished list of some things I can offer you, friendship-wise — terrible puns and a witty sense of humor, an insistence on taking pictures of you with my camera when you’re not looking, the urge to proofread any essays you’ve written, an ever-evolving rotation of movie references and an unwavering love for my friends, maybe to the point of obsession.

I’m learning Spanish and Italian and I can do a decent Australian accent. I can hold my own at trivia and I’m truly amazing at charades. I collect glass jars and fun people. I’m bad at math and even worse at driving, I can’t whistle and I probably watch too much TV for someone in college with three jobs.

So…I graduate in two weeks. Do you want to be friends?

Juliana Morello writes about whatever’s on her mind. Follow her on Instagram @juliana.morello or write to her at [email protected]