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2020-2022

·11 mins

As many of you may have noticed, the last few years have been pretty eventful. The events that occurred have changed me as a person, so I thought I’d give a bit of a retrospective since I haven’t spoken about some of this stuff to many people.

Friend Groups #

So, this whole situation starts with the pandemic, because of course it does. I want to dedicate a lot of this review to the events in this period, and what they taught me about how I interact with people. I remember leaving photography casually joking to Patrick Wood that I’ll see him next year, and I didn’t really think about it. I wouldn’t say that we were friends, we just happened to sit near to each other because of Sufyaan. Those relationships are impossible to keep online, as I found.

Friend groups are weird things. They’re dynamic, and rarely stay in one place. People come, and people go, but occasionally something big happens. A split. Splits occur when something monumental happens and have lasting consequences that rarely ever heal. In this case, none of us really knew what happened. The friend group formerly known as Luigi’s Italian Restaurant had split, breaking off members like Sufyaan and, by extension, myself. For some reason, Sufyaan’s dislike for the group grew, and one day, he split, and I followed (Dylan probably had something to do with this, but I’m not sure). When a split occurs, the smaller group usually splits off and either forms their own group or merges with another group. In this instance, Sufyaan merged with The Reichstag, who largely consisted of Patrick, Jack Parker, and Declan.

So, I naturally joined these people, right? Judging by the new paragraph I just started, you can probably guess the answer. You see, these people go back to a group that was formed in middle school, who I used to be a part of. We’d play GTA V together (all 1270 hours of it), and it was fairly standard. Issue was that they were pricks to me for no discernible reason. There were times where I didn’t want anything to do with them, but I had no choice but to go in and take whatever insults they could throw. I stuck with the group throughout year 7-8, after all, I’d have nobody otherwise, but high school naturally broke us up and I came out the other end much better, now part of Deus Vult. I’d say the split was fairly clean, with me leaving them and them staying mostly together, but I never really forgot how I felt back in middle school, feeling trapped in with a group that would actively make fun of me at any opportunity.

Since this review has already expanded back 6 more years, I may as well go through the gist of the whole story. In year 10, I somehow ended up in Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. I was still very good friends with Deus Vult, so being part of two groups was a net win for me. At the time, Luigi’s Italian Restaurant was loosely tied to The Reichstag, mostly via Sufyaan. One of the main members of The Reichstag was Declan, who was also one of the main people in that group from middle school, and one of my best friends at the time. Amazingly enough, he hadn’t changed much, and still kept the spirit of that group alive. He’d call me names (napalm victim wasn’t funny) and was generally an ass to me in particular. This led me to separate myself from The Reichstag as much as possible over that year, but it was a messy separation. The group was still intertwined with people who I spoke to, so I couldn’t cleanly disappear without hurting anyone’s feelings. The outcome of this was that I outright refused to associate with Declan in any way, and still technically hold this to this day. I didn’t want anything to do with him, and I was very clear on this.

So, that’s The Reichstag’s situation handled. Back to having a good time with Deus Vult and Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. Things went smoothly, although being split across two meant that I couldn’t really be a “main member” of both. This didn’t feel too noticeable at Luigi’s, but I felt like an outsider at Deus and never really had much to say when talking to them. Add on to the fact that their activities mostly consisted of League of Legends and discussing how much they hated women’s reproductive rights, I slowly drifted away and cemented myself as a member of Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. Before I get back to the start of this timeline, I want to say something about Joe. I saw middle school me in Joe. Not in a weird way, but I hated seeing him getting constantly bullied within the group for no real reason other than “it was funny”. I understand what it feels like being part of a friend group that hates you, and I hope that he’s with better people now.

Back to that split I mentioned 4 paragraphs ago. I followed Sufyaan away from Luigi’s. Hopefully by now, you can see the problem. I wasn’t joining The Reichstag, I wasn’t in the position to go back to Luigi’s, and I’d long drifted from Deus Vult. This left me with pretty much just Sufyaan as an individual. I couldn’t be with him when he was with The Reichstag, and even then, I’d say we were together way too much at this point. This situation was still fine, until the obvious section of this review.

The Pandemic #

You may be wondering: “Why didn’t you join back with Luigi’s?”

The only answer I can give for that question is that I didn’t know the people in Luigi’s as individuals. Sure, I’d play games with them and hang around with them at lunch, but I’d never really spoken to anyone there as a person. We’d have a great time in a Discord call with 8 people, but if I was in a direct call with any of them it’d be a few minutes of awkward silence before one of us hung up. The only reason that I can think that this happened was because of me spreading myself too thin a few years prior - I was having the same issue that I had with Deus Vult. No worries, I’d see them all occasionally around school and say hi, and that was enough to keep me going.

Within the first few months of the pandemic, the lockdown was getting to me. Talking to people online is different to seeing them in person. When you send a message to someone, you’re actively deciding “I will talk to them, and them specifically.” When you have nobody who you know well enough to talk to, that becomes impossible. I remember staring at the DM window, cursor blinking at the end of “wanna play some csgo”, unable to press enter. This was a person who I’ve known since childhood, had met with weekly before the pandemic, and was one of the few people who was genuinely nice to me throughout middle school. The only real social interaction I had was when I’d DM Sufyaan a meme about once a day. The only Discord server I was really a member of only contained Sufyaan, Anthony, and Dylan.

A screenshot of that lonely Discord server

(I don’t remember Ben joining, looks like he only ever sent 3 messages).

I can confirm with 100% certainty that this was the lowest point I’ve ever been at. Nothing happened, I practically had nobody to talk to, and I couldn’t even bring myself to try and fix it. Every day was the same, so much so that I don’t really know how to keep this section going.

Year 13 #

At the start of year 13, it looked like things were getting better. Now that I could physically see people again, I started having the opportunity to talk to others again. I’d occasionally say hi to Patrick, I’d sit with Luigi’s in the common room, and me and Sufyaan could go back to abusing Costa’s referral policy. This was a great improvement, but it was a bandaid solution to the problem that had developed over the pandemic.

I still had no group.

I’d spend the day chatting with people at school, but I’d go home and live the same way I did during the pandemic. Just to cement how bad this was, when the Autumn half term started, I thought to myself “guess I’m not speaking to anyone for a week”, and I was correct. This went on throughout that term, and I spent most of the Christmas break in that same state, until one of the most important single events in my life happened.

Jackbox and Deus Vult #

One day, I got invited to a Discord group call with 9 other people in it. People from Deus Vult and Luigi’s were playing Jackbox and wanted a 10th member. It was this call that reunited me with these people. If it wasn’t for whoever picked me to pad the game, my life and the lives of everyone in those groups could have panned out differently over the next year or so. After this game of Jackbox, I started joining Deus Vult again, and eventually felt like I was finally in a group again. From what I could tell, Luigi’s was no more and had practically merged with Deus Vult, and they’d all turned into alcoholics. Makes sense, the pandemic did funny things to all of us. Either way, my period of loneliness was over. I finally had a friend group that I felt welcomed in, no strings attached.

The Split #

So, I was now a member of Deus Vult again, properly talking to people in it (beyond simple hellos in the common room). Carter, the “leader” of Deus Vult vaguely liked someone else who was part of the group, as did Josh. At the time, nothing was really coming of it, just some good memes and friendly banter.

One night, I thought it would be funny to send a certain picture to Deus Vult.

Josh

(let me know if you want the image without the border, my site generator just hates the original image)

It wasn’t even the first time I’d shown the image - I’d pretty commonly show it to Josh to take the piss, and I’m sure I must have sent it to most people by that point. Either way, that image caused one of the biggest and most well-defined splits I’ve ever seen. By the end of the night, we were in a new server, the Anti Simp Society.

The Boys #

The Boys is a reincarnation of Luigi’s Italian Restaurant with traces of Deus Vult. Now with a legendary in-joke to my name, I quickly made friends with the people in this group. For example, when the group was made, I’d consider me and Josh acquaintances, but very quickly we became good friends. One night, we stayed up until 4am trying to put together what had happened since year 9, with me learning a lot about what happened to Luigi’s in the process. I think we figured out what happened just before year 12, but I can’t quite remember.

I finally had a group.

At this point, life got much better for me. I’d finally got a stable footing with people who actually cared for me (and I care for them), and those painfully silent nights of the pandemic quickly became a bad memory. As I finished year 13, I looked forward to another major change coming up.

University #

Somehow, I managed to get the inflated entry requirements for the University of Nottingham. I moved to Nottingham and began the next stage of my life.

The first few months of university were very interesting for me. Since I properly moved, it became my whole life, which I’m glad for. In Trinity, I was the only one who actually cared about programming/computer science. Within the A-level class, everyone else was mildly interested at best, while I was messing around with a new side project that I’d call Finamp. Here, so many people share my enthusiasm. I could have the neekiest discussions possible, and people would actually be able to respond instead of just about acknowledging what I was saying. I genuinely enjoy what I do here and being able to dedicate myself to it fully is amazing. I even switched from the year in industry to a masters so that I can stay with the people here and do what I love.

Conclusion #

That about sums up the past 2 (4? 8?) years of my life. It’s definitely been interesting, but I feel like I’m in a really good position surrounded by people who I care for and who care for me.

Messages #

Note - I’ll be mentioning people here who I’d rather this doesn’t get shared with. If I’ve sent this to you, I trust you to respect my decision and not share it with others.

  • The Boys - I can’t understate how much finally having a group means to me, thank you all so much.
  • Sufyaan - Thank you for staying with me, even during the time where you were the only person I had
  • Declan - Sorry if you didn’t realise that I felt that way about what you said and did.
  • The middle school group - In hindsight, I don’t think you were genuinely out to hurt me in the way that you did. I don’t speak to any of you anymore, but I hope you’re doing well.
  • Matthew - I was going to write a section about you, but I felt like you wouldn’t like that. You’re the best person I’ve met at university, and I’m happy to call you my friend.