I take comfort in the fact that Jesus had twelve disciples.

Yes, Judas betrayed him, but the twelve we’re more prone to mention are basically the original “squad” if you will. However, I feel that by today’s standards—Jesus’s social life would not be considered so grand.

Only twelve?

That seems a bit odd for someone who can turn water into wine and feed a multitude people with a single overwhelmingly pitiful meal unfit for the average man. Yet a dozen is all he had—all he actually required—and at this hopefully early part in my life, I can’t help but envy, yet revere all the same, his small social circle.

In college, everyone wants to be friends—at least that’s how it seems. With that said though, I really and truly do think everyone wants to connect to someone one on one level or another. Even before I was thinking about college and was still a reticent 14 year-old, I’ve heard time and time again that “You’ll make lifelong friends in college!”, and some days I believe this. For the most part, everyone is incredibly outgoing and willing to make conversation, and it almost seems as if there’s no logical reason I can’t be friends with any and everyone here. But if I were to be honest, I’d say that I almost dislike the idea of that.

Don’t get me wrong.

I love people—I really and truly do—but do I trust people? Now that’s another question…

It’s not that I have an idea in my head that people only want out of a relationship what they can get out of you because I’ve already been up and down and all around that street. And while I can say that I’ve moved on from that travesty of a relationship, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect the way I perceive others in some way. However, that’s not the complete source of my hesitancy to befriend others. If anything it was water to the plant.

The chief reason behind this is simply the fact that I’m not from here.

I come from a place where I’m understood quite well. I can say the most with the least, and I can be myself without much fear of misconstruction, and while this can be true of most anyone—to a certain degree—the fact that I come from Texas and not Iowa plays a large role in people’s willingness to form relationships.

Before I continue, however, I’m not looking for fair-weather friendships—something I’ve never been a fan of ever since high school. I don’t see the point of engaging in another person with having no real intent of following through with the relationship itself. However, I feel that people naturally have a bad habit of making abortive connections as it is, and I’ve seen this play out quite a bit. Someone’s friends with someone they don’t even enjoy, or someone just doesn’t treat someone else how that person would like to be treated—but I could write a whole sermon about this, so I think I’ll stop now because I’m certainly no James Weldon Johnson.

I only get the phantom feeling that many of the people that come to the University of Iowa already knowing a great deal of people aren’t pursuing relationships with new people past what I described above. And I understand that the first semester of my first-year is only half over, but again, as long as I am a first year—this blog shall chronicle (to the best of its ability) the freshman experience from start to finish.

What’s harder for me personally, however, is that I am an open book—an open book with several big words that is. While I am open and honest, it’s difficult to gauge what all I should explain to people I’m starting fresh with, and because of this I do question not the value of making new connections but my capability to do so—and on some levels the point of it all. I am outgoing and like to laugh, yes, but I want more out of a relationship than an exchange of gilts. Moreover, I’ve been through nothing with these people. All of the good friends I can count on my hand back in Texas followed me through some incredibly complex and, at times, nightmarish moments, and to be told that I will meet people here that will rival their loyalty and support almost makes me indignant—as if anyone could be as much a friend as they have proven themselves to be…

And then I think of Jesus—who had the tiniest social circle imaginable by a 21st century technophile like myself—and naturally I can’t help but be jealous of him in a non-Judas, I’m-going-to-betray-you type way. It’s just nice to know that a small circle is all you need, but to settle for the veterans in my life and undervalue the 5,000+ students here would be a disservice to not only them but myself as well which inevitably defeats the purpose of the university’s mission.

We’re supposed to meet new people and make new friends—“lifelong friends”—and it’s easy to go the Jesus route and proclaim that what I have is all I need, especially for someone like me. However, where things stand now, I do believe there are potential relationships here that are worth it. I just don’t know which ones yet, which I feel is natural(ly unnerving). Or maybe it’s simply a feeble hope I’m holding out for someone to justify and confirm?

Nevertheless, I believe everyone will go through this How-Many-Friends-Would-Jesus-Have dilemma, whether they’re aware of it or not, when they begin to consider the value of their relationships—even the Iowans who come here with their best friends and 95% of their graduating class. This social crisis of biblical proportions is only happening to me now because I came knowing and, in some ways, trusting no one.

I’m a brave boy, though. I’m used to discomfort and putting myself out there. (Boy do I have a lot of stories about that…) And while I can’t say the same for everyone, I believe I’ll be fine in the end (at least that’s the hope) even if I do choose to defy the Jesus paradigm…

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