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Growing up and apart in college

Well, it’s that time of year again. With less than two weeks left in the semester, I know I am not alone in saying that the mounting pressures of final papers, assignments and exams have pushed me to the ultimate level of procrastination.
I, for one, have terrible self-control when it comes to Internet browsing. In past years I have stooped so low as to have my friends change my Facebook password in order to keep me from wasting time on the site. While I have yet to resort to that this semester, I have a feeling the breaking point is getting close.
Earlier this week while researching Brazilian penal code for my thesis — in Portuguese, of course — I let myself take a 15-minute “Facebook break.” But just as it has happened so many times before, 15 minutes quickly turned into an hour.
After browsing my NewsFeed and chatting with a few friends, I started looking though my photo albums from my freshman year at Ole Miss, which I have not paid attention to in years. But besides the obligatory, horrified thoughts that ran through my mind while going though the old pictures (did I really look that young …?!), I was left with an emotion that I did not expect.
Guilt.
The feeling triggered when I started counting the faces of friends who were such a big part of my life that first year, but who I rarely see or talk to anymore. Sure, some have graduated and their lives have taken them far from Oxford, but many more are still students at Ole Miss. How could I have let those friendships fade when they are only a phone call, email or Facebook message away?
I am a completely different person from the girl staring back at me in those Facebook albums. Three years ago I was naïve and unsure of myself, even though I tried so hard to prove otherwise. But in retrospect, I know that my old friends from those pictures were just as nervous and insecure as I was. Like every other freshman on campus, we were trying to find our “place” at this university and were completely clueless about how to go about it. Bonded by our naiveté, we embarked on this new chapter together and didn’t even stop to think how life would eventually set us on separate paths.
My closest group of friends at Ole Miss today is — with only a few exceptions — completely different.
People will forever walk in and out of our lives, but I’m not saying that my old friends no longer matter to me just because we have grown apart. To the contrary, I would argue that they are more important than some of my “new” friends today. We helped each other through one of the toughest transitions in a young adult’s life, and I would not be the same person today without their influence and support during my freshman year.
So to all of my old friends reading this today, I want to thank you for touching my life and contributing to my experience at Ole Miss. Just because we haven’t spoken in a while doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten the memories we share.
Good luck on your final exams. Now if you will excuse me, I have to get back to my thesis.

Lexi Thoman is a senior international studies and Spanish double-major from St. Louis, Mo.