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A group of students standing outside of Chaffee Hall

It’s really hard for me to believe I’m only a semester and a half away from graduating college.

People always said, “You’ll blink and it will all be over.” And I felt like I got what they were saying, but I didn’t really understand it until a few weeks ago — that my time as a student at Boise State University was, sadly, crawling to an end.

I’m a reflective person. And when this realization hit me, I started thinking about the biggest part of this experience — truthfully, this big adventure — that I was most thankful for. And there are lots of things that I’m thankful for. My (soon-to-be!) degree and education, a nuanced perspective on the world, and having found home in a brand new city and state. But when thinking about all of this, I think what I’m thankful for the most is the relationships I’ve made in my time as a Bronco.

I grew up in the suburbs outside of Seattle, and I always like to think of my hometown as a small place, but it’s really not. I think it feels small to me because my family has been in the same town for upwards of fifty years. My mom went to my high school, my dad went to my rival high school, and now they both teach and coach at my alma mater.

So, it probably goes without saying, I was born into a community where I just had friends and people around that I knew. I didn’t have to work on friendships and relationships because they were already just…there. So, I wanted to force myself into a bit of a social “reset” when I decided that I was going to spend four years of my life at Boise State.

And, quite honestly, there were times where it was tough to put myself out there. No one from my high school graduating class ended up attending Boise State and there were only a handful of people from my hometown.

The first real friend that I made was back in my dorm room in Chaffee Hall during my first year. He wasn’t my roommate then, but one of the first friends I made in college has actually been one of my roommates every year of college since.

He would often just come over and knock on the door and be like, “What’s up? Want to go do something?” And I’m still not sure if I wasn’t used to potential friends being that forthcoming at the time, but I remember I initially just shrugged him off. But pretty much every day I could expect him to come over and knock on my door and ask me to hang out. After the third or fourth day, I agreed and a group of us went to go play basketball at the Rec Center together. A group of people that I didn’t know.

And while, yes, it was uncomfortable and weird at first, those first friendships strengthened into a family which led to more friendships and connections throughout the course of our first year. To this day, as I said, I still live with my first friend who consistently knocked on my door and two other friends I made during our first-year at Boise State. How they have survived living with me for the last three years is one of the world’s greatest mysteries.

But my first friendships definitely aren’t the only ones I’ve made in my time as a Bronco. During my first year, I did something I never envisioned myself doing by rushing a fraternity. The reality was that I was looking in awe at the potential of being part of an even larger campus community and to add another layer of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And I’m beyond thankful I decided to rush and found some more incredible friends through doing so.

I was thinking a lot about this during a fraternity retreat we went on last spring in the mountains in central Idaho. It was sunset and a group of my close friends and I figured it would be a great time to go for a hike. We left the house we were staying at and trudged up a few miles through rocky, forested terrain to a bluff overlooking the snow-capped mountains and lakes and rivers. Above it all, sat a bright pink sunset with the brightest, realest stars I’ve seen in my entire life.

We sat there on that rock pretty much all night and talked about college and life and what made us excited to get up in the morning and the directions we saw ourselves going in our future lives. As we sat there and talked, I realized that I would’ve never made those friendships that are so meaningful to me and I would’ve never explored this beautiful part of rural Idaho if I hadn’t rushed my fraternity. If I wasn’t presented with an opportunity at Boise State to change and grow and mold myself into what I would consider the most content version of myself that I’ve ever been. The start of something new — a friendship, a club, organization, whatever the case may be — can be uncomfortable at first. However, sometimes that first “yes” can lead to some of the best things in life.

This time of year more than ever, I think it’s important to be thankful for friends and people in our lives. While there are parts of me that are certainly sad that my time as a Bronco is coming to an end in a few short months, there are also parts that are very happy.

Happy that even after I’ve graduated, I will still carry with me friendships and relationships that will last a very, very long time.

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    Joey

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