Here’s the thing about friendship: you don’t realize how powerful and loving a relationship can be until someone does something to rock your world. I’ve been blessed with a plethora of amazing humans in my life but my mother has always said that I’m better with first impressions. My staying power isn’t exactly stellar because, for whatever reason, I have a really hard time completely opening up to people.
Perhaps this is because of my rocky social experience in middle school. I can acknowledge that everyone has a shitty time at some point or another when they grow up. Hormones are raging, bodies are changing, and brains are developing too fast for the psyche to comprehend. Unfortunately, all of this can lead to bullying and superficial relationships which cause extreme self-consciousness. I definitely encountered this during my upbringing and I hate to admit that it stayed with me for longer than it should have.
Fortunately, I’ve always had one person by my side to love and support me no matter what. This person is my best friend Chrissy. We’ve been best friends since 5th grade when she transferred into my class. She constantly inspires me with her work ethic, drive, and ambition, but it’s her unconditional love and understanding as a friend that I value the most. She knows me better than I know myself and understands what sets me off or gets under my skin. We are complete opposites but it’s a beautiful balance of friendship that I’m so thankful for.
During college, I went through a fairly dramatic break-up which did not help my self-confidence. It was during this time that I began questioning who I was and what I truly wanted out of life and my relationships with people. I was constantly trying to keep up with everyone else and got lost trying to balance academics, sports, and extracurricular activities. Slowly I felt myself turning into someone that I didn’t recognize. Chrissy was always there, but our visits were infrequent due to our schedules and I felt like I was missing a stable lifeline. Fortunately, by senior year, I had made some solid friendships that helped to drag me out of my slump and I started to feel a little better.
Everything was going well until the real world was thrust upon me. As I’m sure many of you can relate to, becoming an adult is no simple task. Life is not easy, especially when you’re trying to figure out who you are. I made it through the first year out of college but one night I found myself, lying on the floor, sobbing and anxious, completely out of control of my emotions. Something was missing! I had many acquaintances, but no one I felt that truly understood my thinking (my friends from high school and college were scattered across the world). Chrissy was living in Philadelphia, Drew was out with his own friends, and the people I usually spent time with were busy.
It was around this low point that two very special people came into my life. I met Heather and Anya at different times but something about both of them was magnetic in the same way. It was a connection that I can only describe as finding your soul mate, something that I had experienced before, but in 5th grade it’s nearly impossible to realize those psychological and visceral connections. I could go on with details of how we met but that’s not what’s important. What I want to do is thank them for is what they taught me about friendship.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Anya and Heather. We are constantly in contact in some form or another, and we thrive on the love that’s between us. Because of them, I have learned how to be a better person and friend, not just to them but to the friends I already have in my life. Sometimes I wonder if our level of friendship is real or if I’m opening myself up too much. I’ve been burned several times in the past and like I said, exposing my most personal thoughts is not something that comes easy to me. That’s not the case with them! By allowing myself to become so vulnerable, I have learned who I really am and what/who is really important to me. For the first time in my life, I can say that I’m truly happy to be me and I’m enjoying learning how to grow and mature.
The relationships that I have with Heather and Anya are rare and precious. They make me want to be a better person and have helped me foster more mature relationships with my other friends too. Through them, I’ve also realized that some people I called friends weren’t really my friends. Not everyone is always going to have your best interests in mind and it can be very challenging to leave those in your past for good.
I’ve also learned that it’s important to foster the relationships that I already have (yay staying power!) and I now appreciate the friends in my life who have stood by me more than ever (I’m looking at you Chrissy!). True friendship has no judgment, jealousy or competition. Friends should constantly reinforce each other in a positive manner and remind each other of their strengths, not their weaknesses. Thank you to ALL of my wonderful friends in this world. You all know who you are and I hope you know what you mean to me. I’m so incredibly lucky to know each and every one of you and I’m thankful that I now have the emotional capacity and self-worth to be able to support you as much as you all support me. We are all truly a crazy, wonderful tribe.
What I want all of you to take away from this is that friendship and love are two of the most important things in life. Survival is as much a mind game as it is a physical game and without an indestructible home base, your chances of making it aren’t very high. So put yourself out there, let go of your emotional baggage and find those people whose weirdness fits perfectly with yours. All you need is love.
*To all of my friends that I’ve met over the years: You are all incredible and wonderful and I’m so happy to know you. From childhood to camp, college to blogging, you are beautiful souls, don’t EVER forget that. I love you all.