"How many true friends have you ended with since you started your university journey? Friends whom you can share your feelings with, friends who loves do things with you, friends who don't judge you and friends who does not mind accompanying you for anything without complaining?"

That would be the first question that I ask if I am ever gonna give a talk to university students. Because more than three years here, I realized that true friends is one of the hardest thing to come by in university. By saying that I mean true friends that you get to know during your time in university, not the ones that followed you to university from your high school / secondary school.

The reason I would ask that question is because of how university is structured, at least here in Singapore. When you're in uni, somehow the main concern here is not to learn or to acquire knowledge, but to outdo everyone else in your cohort, be it academically or co-curricular wise. I think is the mentality that is drilled in to us by the society, that if we don't top our class and if we don't top our CCA, it would be hard for us to find a job and to earn a living. 

After all, there's this urban legend that says that if you cannot get a second upper honours, you have no chance of working in the civil service. Which ultimately leads to a very competitive environment where we strive to be the best out of the best, be it trying to talk as much in class to writing 5 pages more of essay than the person next to you during exam.

And a competitive environment rarely breeds good friendship. From how I see it, everyone is forming friendship based on the merits they assume they can get from it. Friendships are formed on the basis on the benefits that you can get, which ultimately leads to the most popular person getting more friends while the socially awkward will always linger at the bottom. Secrets are rarely shared because of the fear on someone using it against you and people often try to prove that they are superior to you in every way possible, even in the realm of morality too.

But after a while, you start to realize that when it comes to friendships, it's the small little thing that matters. How both the friends can talk without the fear of being judged, how they can share the same hobbies without anyone complaining and how they can just be themselves without putting a mask on, because these are the friendships that will stay after you graduate, these are the friendships that will keep you sane as you step into the working world.

After three years, honestly, I have no idea of how many kinds of these friendships I have. Perhaps it's time to do some soul-searching.


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