Letters to Freshmen: The High School Sweetheart

By 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Orientation had come to a close, teary-eyed parents were long gone, and the freshmen finally  finished setting up their bunks at Camp Claremont. Many of the new students found their little minds brimming with all of the sage advice that could possibly fit in a paper folder.  Use the writing center, go to the Ath, try Pitzer lunch - but, hey, that's just the obvious stuff. What about the things that don't come in your orientation packet?  Despite the best efforts of W.O.A.! Leaders and Sponsors, there are some crucial tidbits that still manage to fly under the radar. Don't worry new campers, the Forum is here to help, offering a series of short letters from a reliable crew of both familiar faces and fresh, new voices. To kick it off, sophomore Libby Friede from Philadelphia hits on the sensitive topic of the infamous high school sweetheart.

Dear Freshman,

If you’ve ever seen the movie Annie Hall you are familiar with a basic premise: boy meets girl, they fall in love, girl moves across the country. There are two potential ends to the story: Boy and Girl realize someone needs to move so they can be together Boy and Girl go their separate ways. Both have a hard time, and then they move on.

When I was a freshman, I moved from Pennsylvania to California. My boyfriend moved to  New York City. (The exact locations NYC and LA parallel the movie to perfection.) We watched Annie Hall and realized the Woody Allen-Diane Keaton conundrum was only a few weeks away from reality. After endless nights of talking about it and not talking about it, we decided to make it work. After all, we had technology on our side. How hard could it be with Skype, e-mail, Facebook, and cell phones? I arrived in California nervous and lonely. I didn’t know a single person, and it was so much easier to log onto Skype than open my  door and meet new people.

For three weeks we attempted a game of long distance ping-pong. He called, but I couldn’t pick up because of orientation. I called, and he had just started dinner. It was frustrating and isolating. I skipped out on so many parties and invitations to fro-yo because we had a Skype date, or I was on the phone. I was technically in Claremont but I was in this strange limbo-land, equal parts Philadelphia, New York, and Claremont. Finally, there was the fateful call: “this isn’t working.” At first, I felt even more alone. Then someone invited me to a Friday night performance of Without a Box (so good!). I almost said no out of habit, but I realized I didn’t have a phone call coming, so I went out. And then I had fun. Little by little, I went to more parties and more club meetings. I met more people and got out of my room and out of my shell.

I don’t write this letter of advice saying don’t have a long distance significant other. There are some people who do it; there are some people who can make it work. There are also plenty of people (freshman mostly) with a significant other across the country or around the world. They will probably say things like “we’re practically married” or “the distance makes us closer.” Hate to break it to you, but for a lot of you in this boat, the break-up wave is coming and it’s okay. It’s really hard to give 100% to making new friends and living in a new place when you feel so connected to somewhere else.

Break-ups are always tough, but they are even harder when you’re a million miles from home. Instead of making a playlist of sad songs, find someone in your hall to talk about it with. Chances are you are not the only one in the same situation.  Talking about your break-up is not only free therapy, you’ll probably get a really good friend out of it.

For those of you who do stay with your far-off significant other, make sure you give Claremont a shot. Try to get out there and make new friends. Whether you’re an alternative Allie or a preppy Pam, you can find your people here; you just have to go out and look for them. From classes to clubs to TNC, get out and meet people! I know this is advice that you’ve probably heard a million times but it’s true. If your mind’s tied to a lover across the country, your eyes on computer screen, and your ear glued to a phone, there’s a lot less room and a lot less time to meet people here that will become your Claremont family.

Peace, Love,  and Cheesesteaks,

Libby Friede