Dear Harlan: I am from a very small town and have chosen to attend college at a community college about an hour away from home. My problem is, my two best friends have decided to go to the same college. This doesn’t seem like an issue, but it is. These two honestly don’t do anything that I don’t do. If I apply to go to a leadership camp to better my future, they apply just because I did. If I move, they move. If I go out, they go out. It has already become an issue because neither of them are living on campus, and they want me to live with one of them. I know that they are going to try to hang out with me all the time, and I honestly just want to make new friends. I love them and would still like to be friends with them, but I don’t know how to branch out and get the full college experience if they never leave my side.
Dear Nervous: You don’t have to live with them. You don’t have to include them in everything. There is a kind and loving way to explain that you want to put yourself in new and uncomfortable places by yourself. Encourage everyone to pick one club or activity of interest. Also, consider getting a job on campus or taking on a leadership role that will force you to be on your own. Set a rule that you will all do something on your own. Instead of letting them hold you back, you can be the one to help show them how to create a new life in a new place. Call this practice for when you all transfer to a four-year college. Set clear boundaries and stick to them.