What is Friendship?

Written by Victoria Barry

During my freshman year, I went to my older brother for advice on how to make good friends. He was a senior at the time and had an amazing group of friends – I was still trying to figure out this whole college thing. He gave me a copy of C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves and told me to read the section on friendship. The distinction Lewis makes between “friendship” and “mere companionship” illuminates the difference between many friendships I had previously experienced and friendship as I have experienced it at Hillsdale.

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).” – C.S. Lewis

In high school, someone was considered to be a “friend” if they sat at your lunch table or chatted with you between classes. I have always had a hard time considering this true friendship. There is certainly nothing wrong with such acquaintances; they are a normal, necessary part of human existence. But if your friendships never go deeper than hanging out at a football game and making small talk, something is missing.

That is why I sought my brother’s advice. I was terrified that I would get stuck in surface-level friendships, never connecting with people in a deeper way. I deeply desire and cherish friendships where I can open myself up to others and truly connect with them as an individual, but I also find it difficult to initiate conversations and make myself vulnerable in a way that makes such friendship possible. The kindness and sincerity of Hillsdale students has allowed me to open myself and have meaningful encounters with my fellow students.

One of the first places I experienced the depth and warmth of Hillsdale friendships was an off-campus house called “The Donnybrook.” This house hosted weekly poetry nights where students met to read poems which were dear to them. There was laughter, singing and fellowship. Even though I was a shy freshman, this group welcomed me into their home. They took the time to make me a cup of tea, learn my name, and share their love of poetry with me.

The friendships I have formed these past three years have challenged me and helped me grow. These friendships have both touched and molded my heart. I will always be grateful for the many conversations, baking parties, study sessions, and late-night walks that have drawn me into fellowship with the wonderful people of Hillsdale College.


Victoria BarryVictoria Barry, ’16, is majoring in English with a classical education minor. She is the president of the A.A. Milne Society, an editor for the Tower Light, an active member of the Catholic Society, and a volunteer at Mary Randall Preschool.