Core Decorum: four ways to foster friendship during crunch-time

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The weeks after midterms often make me feel like a sprinter with a late start on a marathon. The final projects, term papers and finals loom ominously close, pushing peripheral, time-consuming luxuries such as breathing, eating and sleeping to the side as we try and coax back a few extra minutes in which to cite one more source or design one more slide. As we become increasingly busy, let us be careful not to forget those things in life that are not peripheral — especially our friends.

The Cap Bar Date is a standard, but for a reason. It can either be a real sit-down appointment or a “let’s take a ten-minute break together” kind of affair. Fun, convenient, caffeinated — an easy and excellent way to make some time for the individual or group of friends who you are constantly greeting with “hey, we should hang out sometime …”

Ask a friend to help you spread some serendipitous acts around campus. Chances are you know someone who is being hit especially hard by the stress of finals week, who just has a lot going on in life, or just someone who should be told he is special. While we often make mental notes which read something like “I should remember to do something nice for (fill-in-the-blank),” sometimes that thought doesn’t get fully translated into action. Actually plan on doing that special something, and then get others in on the plan. Whether it is as simple as baking someone cookies or surprising them with a Cap Bar drink, nothing is as worthwhile and rewarding as working with others to make someone feel loved.

While there is no 10-day for the Irving-bound, you can plan ten-minute adventures. Gather a group to walk to Mass at the Priory, Seminary or Cistercian. There is something deliciously Rome-ish about walking, if only for ten minutes, to get to Mass. If it’s a Sunday, chances are you are probably going anyway, and the walks to and from the site afford the chance to catch up and check in with friends who are just as busy as you. God, exercise and friends — three key ingredients to maintaining overall health during stressful times.

Invite someone to study off-campus. Find a place where you can spend a few productive but pleasant hours just being somewhere different. Pack your bags and extra change, and head off-campus to a local Panera, Half-Price Books or coffee shop. A place where you can all put in headphones, order coffee and forbid all conversation except eye-contact, which can be verbalized once you are back in the car. And, yes — this is still quality time. Sometimes just being present is all that you need to help your friendship. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “True friends are two people who are comfortable sharing silence together.”

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art … It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival,” C.S. Lewis wrote.

Let’s not forget to make time for those who make our time here worthwhile.

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