Growing up, I had a much skewed view of friendship. I would sit back in elementary school and pair up who I knew was “friends.” But as far as I could figure, all that meant was who would be sitting next to whom when our class was ushered into the cafeteria, or who would end up passing the precious time of recess with whom. Nothing more, nothing less; because let’s be honest. We all know the birthday invitation lists were influenced, produced and distributed by our parents’ choices.
In middle school, my family moved from Richmond to Virginia Beach. I missed everyone and everything, as one large collective idea. Once I reached high school and started at my arts school, friendship took on a competition-esque flair. Who could out perform whom? Who would be standing front and center? Who would be singing the solo or dancing the break? I let my trust in friendship go about as far as I’d let my little dog run out in front of me. It was a – mostly – controlled environment. Sometimes, when I got too comfortable and cozy, I was quickly reminded why I always chose to listen to my iPod or read a book instead of building a friendship. During those pre-driving days, I was the girl slouched down in the seat on the school bus with my knees on the back of the tall seat in front of me; I’d look out of the window or keep my head in my book. Eyes, mind, heart, goals, interests focused elsewhere. Even the bus driver couldn’t see me.
High school drained me. There are still sharp edges of memories that creep up, catch me off guard and hurt. There are also beautiful memories that I’ll never let go of.
I entered college with the same defensive mentality on friendship as I left high school with. Focus only on myself and what I bring to the table. I knew I wouldn’t join a sorority, and I felt pretty confident that my choice of major would keep me tucked in a corner of the library keeping the drama limited to Shakespeare’s tragedies and the struggles of female poets in 1800s publishing world.
I say all of this to show how very appreciative I am that certain girls have stuck with me through all of my attempts to keep friendship exactly where I wanted it.
It has been post-college that I have found my friends. A group of girls who I know this about:
If I ever needed someone, they will be there (whether it be via phone or e-mail, a hug, a martini)
When I’m being who I am (overdramatic, emotional, over-analytical), they will accept that and understand.
They are not afraid to ask the difficult questions to help guide me to a much-needed conclusion.
They celebrate the highs with me; they listen through the lows.
They inspire me, challenge me, and keep me guessing while maintaining their presence in my life.
They have made me a better person by learning how to accept and provide friendship.
These are the girls I will always fall back on, when I need to fall back; these are the girls who will share with me this life-thing we’ve been tasked with to figure out. Together, we will keep smiling, and supporting all of our dreams and goals, while loving and learning all the while.