Navigating Friendships in Your First Few Months of College

(Photo above by Mikhail Nilov / Pexels)

You’ve just started the first month of college, and you’re getting to know some classmates. Some you connect with and others you have more of a wave when you see them across the quad type of situation. Maybe you’ve heard about the lifelong friendships that your parents have from college and wonder, who will be that friend in your life?

Wanting to be accepted and a part of something is a real feeling and at the same time staying true to yourself is important. Buddhism teaches about the principle of “cherry, plum, peach and damson,” which explains that it is to our benefit to appreciate our uniqueness.

Daisaku Ikeda, the Buddhist philosopher explains it in this way:

After all, you are you, not someone else. There is no need for you to compare yourself with others; it’s your life. The important question is, What do you really feel and think in the depths of your being? Buddhism expounds the principle of cherry, plum, peach and damson, each having their own unique characteristics, and the related principle of “illuminating and manifesting one’s true nature.” (see “The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 746)

Cherry blossoms are cherry blossoms, and peach blossoms are peach blossoms. A cherry blossom can never become a peach blossom. Nor is there any need for it to try to do so. It would be perfectly miserable if it did. Similarly, you are none other than yourself. You can never be someone else, however much you might wish it. What matters is that you become the kind of person who can cherish, praise and feel content with your own precious, irreplaceable life.

Ikeda continues, sharing how chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helps us develop true self-confidence:

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is fundamental to this, enabling you to reveal your innate Buddhahood just as you are. Not only will chanting give you a wonderful, fundamental self-confidence, it will also adorn and dignify your life with the brilliance of your true and highest potential.

The best way to navigate the first few months of college (and beyond) is to use your Buddhist practice of chanting to bring out your Buddhability, without becoming someone you’re not. You are wonderful just as you are and definitely you will develop friendships that reflect that fact.

However, in a new environment like college, it’s quite natural to want to feel accepted. We might even find ourselves acting in a certain way to win others’ approval, even if it’s subconscious. And when our self-worth is tied to how others see us, our confidence can swing wildly from moment to moment.

This is why it’s a good idea to try to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day. Chanting again inspires us to appreciate ourselves as we are. Practicing Buddhism also means to respect and appreciate others as they are as well. Chanting leads us not only to feel comfortable in our own skin, but also gives us the big heart to give others space to be themselves.

Rather than comparing yourself to others or trying to be a different person, acknowledge your uniqueness and keep chanting no matter the ups and downs of college life. You’ll surely find your way.

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