I’ve noticed a number of times that my social situation in CTY was the complete opposite of my position in school, or the rest of my life, for that matter. Outside CTY, I wasn’t unpopular, but I wasn’t exactly popular either. I had acquaintences in most of my classes, but no steady group of strong friends. Perhaps one of the most startling differences was that at school, most of my friends were guys, while at CTY, most of my friends were girls. I lived with a whole hall full of guys, each year being fairly good friends with some of them, but my main social group was heavily composed of females.
I entertained the notion that this was a purely hormonal bias; I’m a heterosexual male, and hanging out with females would be preferable to hanging out with guys. Yet at the same time, so many guys I know that are equally or more hormonally driven than myself hang out with guys most of the time. I somehow doubt that the majority of those guys are homosexual, and also doubt that the majority of those guys are attached. If that’s the case, why do they prefer to befriend one gender, while I preferred befriending the other?
I then started thinking about the people in those groups. I can’t say what motivated other people to create single-gendered groups, but at school, they were formed out of a common loneliness. The shy people stuck together, and became not so shy in the process. I don’t see any of them outside of school, but that may be because I don’t need their companionship outside of school. When I’m not in school, I have a larger group of friends, as I suspect they do too. I also have other things to occupy myself with, as I suspect they do too.
Yet at CTY, things seem to change. There’s still a sense of loneliness in your squirrel year, which is what causes people to form friendships with their hall. Being that their halls are single-gendered, they cling onto those friends, and perhaps add a couple new ones that are found in class or through the other half of the hall. As time goes on, you develop stronger bonds with those friends, and next year, the friends that you kept introduce you to new friends, ideally with you ending up as a nomore with a whole menagerie of friends.
The socially lazy person I am, I skipped that squirrel year step. I found reading books to be easier than making friends, and as such I spent more time reading books than Ann did. I read during meals, I read during break, I read during the dances, for gods sake! I loitered at the dance for one evening, and barring the final American Pie, spent the rest of the dances in my room reading a book. While that’s a testament to the power of literature, it was also a testament to my social laziness: the reluctance to make an effort to put oneself in or to maintain a social confrontation (I made up the phrase myself, but unbeknownst to me, someone else did it too).
That said, I’m not sure what would’ve happened if she hadn’t stepped in. Despite having supposedly anti-social moods, I’ve never seen her in one, though perhaps that’s because I couldn’t be in her dorm. She acted as a hub, and a very good one; she would seem to naturally draw in people, which made my social life a lot easier. Some might say that having a whole group of other people would dampen one’s friendship, but I ended up liking everyone she attracted. Interestingly, none of those people were hubs themselves, so perhaps hubs only attract shier and socially lazier people.
Yet hubs seem to diffuse a genial warmth that makes people around them open up. Perhaps that warmth is the prerequisite to be a hub, not the benefit that comes along with the position. Perhaps the shier people feel more comfortable talking with the hubs, and therefore develop the bonds of friendship faster. The hubs are able to start up conversation and because of the warmth, invite responses more effectively than other people can, removing awkward situations and presenting the solution for socially lazy people.
So after my squirrel year of CTY, I hung out with a hub, and either the hub or myself attracted another hub. The first hub wasn’t there the year after, so I hung out with that second hub. As that hub drifted away from me and the first one returned, I went and hung out with the first hub. All this hub bouncing was done while keeping in contact with both hubs, and because of all the hubness going around, I was able to meet some great people without straining my social willpower reserve too far. I might not have realized it at the time, but because of the hubs, I was able to fully enjoy my time at CTY, and continue enjoying the friendships that have formed because of them. This is my formal thank-you. I owe everything to you.