Christopher Tom: Empathizing with a New Version of My Best Friend

Over the course of my college career, I feel fortunate to have maintained a relationship with one of my best friends. This year was our first year not living together, and I began to sense that we were drifting apart: our likenesses were changing, the common activities that we once shared happened infrequently, and we did not spend as much time together as we were used to.

At first, I interpreted this change in our friendship as a negative change: because my best friend was changing into a different person than I had first known, for some reason, this meant that we were no longer friends. Until learning / thinking about this empathy assignment, I certainly “otherized” him, focusing on our differences.

And then it came to me: are we really different? can’t we be different and still be great friends? The answer was a resounding yes! In viewing the situation from my friend’s point of view, I began to understand how he interacts with his new living situation and roommates and, that he was not “changing into a different person” as I had once thought- instead simply acclimating and reacting to his new surroundings.

After making a point to spend time together by ourselves, rather than with new roommates or new friends, I found that this “new version” of my best friend, was still my best friend-

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