Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 6, 2022

Centering friendship in my own version of adulthood

By AASHI MENDPARA | November 7, 2022

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COURTESY OF AASHI MENDPARA

Recounting her experiences navigating adulthood, Mendpara discusses how her friends have influenced her life.

These past few weeks have felt like an ensemble coming-of-age miniseries. For most of this semester, I have been practically living in some of my closest friends’ dorms and apartments. 

On the surface, life feels calm and uneventful: we spend our time cooking, cleaning and working (highlights include weekly trips to Trader Joe’s). And yet, my understanding and vision of adulthood have transformed radically. Throughout these past few months, I have fallen in love with found family and collective living. 

2022 has been my year of experiencing what happens when not-quite-yet-20-year-olds attempt to figure out adult life together.

My friends and I have spent our time troubleshooting air conditioning units, helping each other navigate professional relationships and pay rates and having lengthy, late-night intimate discussions about love and life.

We love to ask each other “What if?” What if we never get married? What if we move to a farm and raise children and animals communally? What if we never worked and fell in love with the idea of bartering? What if we moved away and never came back?

With my friends, I have experienced so many beautiful moments. Sitting at a dinner table while someone toasts bread and “Forever” by The Little Dippers plays in the background, getting ready while crowding around one tiny body mirror and sharing makeup, clothes and bites of food. 

They are the people I go to when I need to spend a silent night in bed or a catch-up-slash-I-need-advice coffee break on a Sunday afternoon. 

All of us are molded to fit like functionally telepathic puzzle pieces. Friendships have always been sacred to me, but navigating adulthood with the people I spend time with has been a formative experience. 

Although it sometimes feels like a never-ending cycle of cooking and washing dishes, adulthood is an opportunity to care for and provide for the people I love. As a child, domesticity was my biggest (BIGGEST) nightmare, but spending time at home and in the kitchen has brought me some of my fondest memories. 

I’ve found a lot of joy in cooking communally, whether that be bonding with my mom as she laughs at how I sauté vegetables over FaceTime or attempting to make brownies from scratch with my roommate. The relationships I have formed continue to make the ever-so-formidable adulthood slightly approachable and, more importantly, enjoyable. 

Perhaps it's the impromptu stops at Streets Market for a family dinner, conversations we have on strolls to the farmers market, or Sunday nights spent laying in bed for post-weekend debriefs, but every moment spent with the people I love, no matter how big or small, contributes to the sustainable joy and comfort I feel in my current relationships. 

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the world and the people around me in an attempt to find where exactly I fit in. 

College is the promised land that many of us worked tirelessly to achieve. It is supposed to be the time to discover our passions, make lifelong friends, find our soulmates and learn from the communities we open our hearts to. 

During my first few months at Hopkins, I didn’t learn a language, or travel across the country or have the typical college experience everyone dreams of having. I spent months waiting for a metamorphosis that didn't exactly occur as I expected it.

Over time, as the world changed, I did too. I learned how to slow down and rest and breathe with the people I care for. 

If there is anything I’ve learned from my time with my friends here in Baltimore, it’s this simple fact: we have everything we need. I’m positive that together we will be able to figure out the rest.

Aashi Mendpara is a sophomore from Orlando, Fla. studying Neuroscience and Anthropology. 

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