We all get a warm feeling when we see the Friends cast laugh together as “I’ll be there for you” plays in the background… because they really will always be there for us. No matter how lonely or bad we’re feeling, we can always count on the Central Perk squad from the world’s most popular sitcom to cheer us up…
I certainly counted on Friends being just a couple of clicks away my entire first week at Cornell, since I was homesick and everything outside of the four walls of Bauer Hall seemed scary. As I binged my way through Friends, I realized they did more than just hold my hand when I needed it, they also showed me how to make amazing friends. By watching how they treated each other as they went through life, we can learn a lot about what to do and not do when trying to find our own friends.
Each main character provides real world lessons, especially for us Cornell Freshmen:
Monica – be welcoming. In the very first episode, we see Monica take Rachel under her wing – even after she wasn’t invited to her wedding – and help her get back on her feet. And throughout the series, when the crew isn’t hanging out at Central Perk, they’re hanging out at Monica’s – I mean, she does always have fresh baked cookies.
First semester can be really hard on everyone, from not getting home cooked meals to having to share a bathroom with strangers, and we’re all trying to adjust. Keeping your door open or knocking on your neighbor’s to say hi can easily make your dorm feel more like a home.
Chandler – just laugh . You’re bound to mess up, embarrass yourself, and want to hide in your bed for the rest of college – it’s inevitable. We’ve all been caught singing too loud at Okenshields or tripping while walking into class, but instead of waiting for everyone to start laughing at you, laugh at yourself first! Take a beat from Chandler – self-deprecating humor is good.
Phoebe – stand up for what you believe in. Whether it’s being a die-hard vegan, not shopping at Pottery Barn, or never buying fur, she always stands by her morals. It’s hard to not lose yourself while simultaneously trying to fit in with a new crowd. We want so badly to nod and agree just so we can befriend that new person, but once you’re settled in, your friends should love you for you – not for the person you pretended to be that first week. So even if it means your friendships will take longer to form, in the end, they’ll be more meaningful.
Joey – Don’t give up. From harsh reviews, to playing Sigmund Freud in a musical, to driving to Vegas only to have his movie shut down, Joey has had his fair share of failures. But does he ever give up? Absolutely not. We see his dream of acting persist as he continues to go to new auditions. Now, we may not get dropped down an elevator shaft in Days of Our Lives, but it is very possible we don’t get invited to our friend’s birthday dinner or get ghosted by someone we deemed a potential friend. With 3,000 students in the Freshman class, there’s plenty of opportunity to meet interesting people.
Rachel – Take time to find yourself. None of the Friends characters experienced as big a transition as Rachel. From starting off as a spoiled, clueless girl without daddy’s credit card for the first time to having a management position at Ralph Lauren while raising a child on her own, it’s fair to say she came a long way. Season one Rachel felt as most of us feel now – alone and scared. But it’s okay to not know where you fit in, what your passions are, or where you want your life to go just yet. After all, it took Rachel ten years to realize she loved Ross, so if we don’t find ourselves within the first few months of college, I think we’ll be okay.
Ross – Let your freak flag fly. Three divorces? Paleontology enthusiast? Best friends with a monkey? I think we can all admit that Ross is a total nerd – but nonetheless, a nerd we all love. Don’t be afraid to explore your own hobbies – no matter how offbeat or unconventional they are. I can guarantee there will either be a club or a group of people who love exactly what you love, but you won’t meet them by hiding your nerdiest self away!
Now go out and find your own Central Perk – or College Town Bagels – family!
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