During my first year away at college, I managed to do everything wrong.
I'd visit home often, call my parents daily and pathetically check my home friends' group chat. I also fell in love with a boy who was three hours away.
So, it was no surprise I transferred back home.
After a year at home, my hometown fever kicked in. I felt like I was stuck somewhere I'd always been, with no room to grow.
That was when I made the big decision to go back.
I was in it for the long haul this time, and there were no strings attached.
There would be no more frequent visits home, no more longing for a guy who wasn't in the same area code and no more wishing I was anywhere else but present in the moment.
As I cut the cord and truly immersed myself in the college life I desired, I realized one very important thing: My college friends were, and would always be, the greatest thing to ever happen to me.
As I'm nearly halfway into my senior year, there's no better time to reflect on my decision to come back to school.
When my freshman year friends welcomed me back with open arms, I learned college doesn't last forever, but friendship does.
Here are the reasons your college friends will always accept you for who you are:
1. They see you for the person you're becoming, not the person you've always been.
The hardest thing to do is change how people perceive you.
We do the majority of our maturing in high school, and at the end, we look back and barely recognize the people we were on the first day of freshman year.
Although our home friends remain near and dear to us, they are guilty of seeing us as just older versions of the people they once met.
They might notice subtle changes, but in many ways, they can keep us from growing past the people we are in our comfort zones.
Your college friends are with you from those first days as a scared freshman in a worn-out dorm room with no air conditioning, to those late nights in the library, juggling finals, creating a list of potential grad schools and wondering where the time went.
They see where your passions lie, what triggers your creativity and what makes you "you."
2. They knew your flaws and chose to love you anyway.
In that short span of time when everything is new and everyone is throwing themselves at each other and trying to find their places, you might learn more about one person in a week than you did during four years of high school.
No one is perfect, and your college friends are the first to realize that.
In high school, people could conceal their true selves and awful habits because they only had to be around you seven hours of the day.
In college, your roommates know you leave dishes in the sink and always forget to turn off the AC.
They also know you get a little feisty when you're hungry and passive-aggressive when you're mad, but you only need about a day to get over whatever it was.
Any less-than-perfect traits they've uncovered about you are also traits they've decided to look past.
They accept you as you are because they have their own raw, uncensored selves that you've accepted, too.
3. You can talk about anything (and I mean anything).
I'll never forget the first time I played "Never Have I Ever" in college. Of course, anal came up.
There's nothing that breaks down the barriers of friendship like talking about anal during the second week of freshman year.
Have you ever heard it's easier to talk to a stranger than a friend? That's exactly what happened here.
In college, you don't know anyone's background.
This makes you less apprehensive in saying, "I tried anal" (or anything of a rather questionable nature) to your new pal Kristen, who might be just as curious about the situation.
Let's be real: Kristen is going to be much less judgmental than your virgin best friend from home who, although just a doll, would never understand the context of your conversation.
4. They know how you take your coffee.
They also know how you take it from every spot on campus.
What better companions are there for your all-nighter in the library than your best friend and a wonderful cup of coffee?
5. They've tried, failed or succeeded in every workout fad and diet with you.
From the no carbs and high protein to the no sugar and smoothies once a day, they've done it all by your side.
They came grocery shopping and sent you motivational pictures straight from the 'gram.
But, they also saw you sneak that cookie before bed, and they offered to get McDonald's for breakfast with you when you'd just had enough.
They were even there the last week before spring break, waiting half an hour at the tanning salon with you to "shed" those last few pounds because "people look skinnier when they're tan."
That's just science.
6. When you cried, they brought you wine.
It doesn't matter if it was that time when you had to put down your dog or that day your sort-of-boyfriend told you it was over. They were there.
They saw and heard you in your room at 2 am, tears and all, wondering why sh*tty things always happen the night before a huge presentation.
Have no fear. They knew the best way to get past this was to get you a nice box of Franzia pinot grigio (and maybe some weed).
They also told that cute guy at the party you were "newly single" and needed to have a good time.
7. Your guy friends are really your guy friends.
Did you know guys peak sexually at 17?
They want it when they're in high school, and they make you their prey in nearly every co-ed situation.
They want to make out as often as possible, all in the hopes that maybe some glorious day, they'll get the smallest sexual act out of it.
In college, your guy friends see there are thousands of other women right there in the flesh, and they don't need more than friendship from you.
You can sleep in their bed when you're too wasted to make it home, and they'll even offer you breakfast in the morning.
You can call them for happy hour after your exam and binge-watch Netflix together (without the "chill").
They'll even ask you to be their pong partner, without hoping to get you drunker and friendlier.
8. Through all the chaos, they maintain your sanity.
There's nothing like meeting up with your college friends at a favorite campus spot for a quick lunch, drink, fro-yo, coffee, etc.
It gets even better when you have three exams, one paper and a full book to read by Friday.
They show you there's a proper way to procrastinate, and that's with them at your side.
9. You'll never get another chance to find yourself the way you do when you're in college.
For that reason alone, they will be the ones you think of when you land your first job, get into graduate school, ace the MCATs or kill the LSATs and want to share the news.
You'll reflect back on the years you spent wondering who you'd become, and you'll realize "someday" became today in the blink of an eye.
They were the ones holding your hand throughout the entire journey.
Like my childhood icons, the Spice Girls, said, "Make it last forever. Friendship never ends."
They must have been talking about college.