Growing up is hard. The simple realization that you will no longer be able to take mid-day naps and have it be an appropriate thing is heart-breaking. What’s more heartbreaking is the friends you lose along the way. I’ve traveled a lot growing up, lived in a lot of different places, befriended tons of people. From living in India, Italy, New York, and even New Mexico, I’ve made friends from all sorts of different backgrounds. I’ve learned a lot from them along the way, and with every friend I made, I learned more and more about myself.
During the kindergarten years you’re friends with everyone. You fight over toys one minute and the next you’re sharing your snacks. I’ve lost touch with everyone I made friends with up until third grade because I moved to a different country. Although, I added a few of the friends from elementary school on Facebook several years later and they seemed happy to have contacted me again. Those friends taught me a few things: it doesn’t matter what happened during your childhood friendships, whether they tore your doll apart or stole your candy, they’ll still accept your friend request anyway and be happy that you’re still alive after all those years. They also taught me about forgiveness. I did some pretty shitty stuff in elementary school. There were a few times I was caught taking kids’ lunch money to buy candy for myself. I am absolutely ashamed of that to this day. I have no idea why I did that. I can only think that it was a result of bad tv shows I watched when my parents weren’t home or that I had a terrible sugar addiction. I’m happy to tell you that I have grown out of that terrible habit. But no matter what I did, they still wanted to play with me, involve me in things, and were sad when I moved to another country. Thank you for always involving me in your games of tag and always saving me a seat on the bus to The Boys and Girls club. I will never forget that.
I remember I made a friend during my after school program and for some reason we thought we ruled the world at 8-years-old. We had a few other girls we considered to be in our clique and no one else was allowed to play with us, come into our area, or talk to us. It was Mean Girls: Elementary School Edition. We’d even pick on the girls in our group sometimes, but as soon as I learned that wasn’t the right thing to do and how hurtful it was, I stopped. It also didn’t help that when karate-lessons came, they kicked my ass. I apologized to them for my behavior before leaving and changed my ways a few weeks before I left. I became the girl who was friends with everyone. Those friends I made taught me that It’s never okay to bully, it’s never okay to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings or put them down, and it’s never okay to leave other people out. I had no idea why I was doing that in the first place, but everyone has their phases I guess. Everything is a learning experience.
My awkward middle school years were a whirl-wind. I was in a new country, at a new school, and the way I made friends was through showing them that I could flip my eye-lids and they thought it was the coolest thing. I had a clique in middle school and we played innocent games during recess. Two of girls in my clique were my best friends through those years. I always seemed to have petty arguments with one of them, but at the end of the day we loved each other and we still had playdates and were the best of friends. If you’re reading this, thank you for teaching me how to ride a bike, opening your home to me, and for sharing my obsession with Hilary Duff and Mary-Kate & Ashley, even though we’d always compete over silly things like who had the latest perfume or CD. Later in life, you taught me that competition like that was not healthy, no matter how innocent it was, and I’m sure our parents wallets would agree. LOL.
You also taught me that no matter what with every friend I make, I should love people for who they are, unconditionally, and treat them with respect no matter.
The second best friend I made in my life is still today one of the nicest people I know, even though sometimes I felt like I wasn’t being nice to her as much as I should’ve. To this day, no matter where I am in the world, she’ll send my post cards for various holidays and check-up on me. She’s one of the most genuine people I know, and I don’t think she knows I feel that way about her. I also don’t think she knows that I was envious of her growing up. To me she had the most perfect family, parents, and personality. And for my own pathetic jealously, sometimes I was mean to her. You taught me the importance for loving myself in a way—to be happy with who I am and my family and how to care for people. It’s the little things you did that have taught me that go a long way. You never seemed to care what other people think and you were always comfortable being you. Because of you I eventually learned to be the same. Even though we don’t talk every day, I know that your nature is someone who will always be there and wish the best for others. Thank you for teaching me those important lessons.
Middle School came faster than I ever thought it could and I started school in New York. I had the most unhealthiest relationships in middle school because I was always on-and-off with the friends I made. I always felt like it was my problem, but later in life I learned it was none of ours, we were just stupid and immature, and liking the same boy is bound to happen between best friends. I made a lot friends from different walks of life and it was an extremely diverse group whom I loved, but didn’t realize some of them were bad for me. They weren’t bad people, but our personalities were always clashing. I didn’t realize that until after high school.
Ninth and tenth grade I moved to a new school and the friends I made weren’t like the ones I made back in middle school. And I was not shy to always compare them. Honestly, I learned the friends I made back then were the ones I should’ve kept for good, and not have been so shitty to because I was so focused on moving back to the town were my middle school friends were. The person I was, the values, I had, and the way I was being raised, was a perfect fit. But then again, I didn’t realize that until it was too late. They people there always went out of their way to do things for everyone. They had high goals communication for some reason was like water. From them I learned that you are a reflection of the way you were raised. Your background and parents’ background matters. That’s you’re heritage. They were all raised with good and honest values. Everyone was confident in themselves, smart, and trustworthy. They opened me up to new experiences. I was so caught up though with the friends back home that I didn’t put the same effort in friendships that they gave me. I also felt like I had a inferiority complex because of money. Even though you might not live in a big house, or have a lot of money, doesn’t mean you’re raised poorly or don’t come from a respectable background. All those friends had big houses and those picture perfect families. I was living in an apartment over a fast-food joint at the time (the only apartment in the whole town I think), and I was always letting my situation get the better of me. I had it in my head that I wasn’t good enough to fit in, or worse that I was better because my friendships and experiences were different at the other schools, but I think I was just embarrassed in myself. I wanted to go back to the old school because I felt financially equal when in reality that didn’t matter. People from good educated backgrounds don’t care about that stuff. To those friends, thank you for loving me and putting up with me, especially when I was having a hard time loving myself. Thank you for showing me that materialism doesn’t matter and for the surprise going away party (the only time anyone has managed to surprise me) and for treating me equally, even when I thought I shouldn’t have been.
By junior and senior year I continued the friendships I made in middle school. Those two years of high school were the best ever, mostly because I set out a bunch of goals for myself and everything got accomplished with whipped cream on top. I had a steady group and we did lots of fun things, too. They were my family for those two years, two of them are still my sisters. But I think there were some people in the group that I eventually veered away from because our mentalities were different—we were all maturing but in different ways. And we got into fights that lead to the end of our friendships, with nearly all of them. They too taught me about forgiveness, taking the high road, squashing drama, and that at the end of the day everyone, including me continues to grow and make mistakes. It doesn’t matter if your goals are different, as long as there’s a certain level of respect. But if you want to be friends with someone, especially surrounding yourself with the same people every day, make sure those people have the same mentalities as you. Otherwise, every other month, something is going to come up that you both will have a disagreement on. If you guys are reading this, I’m happy we still text every now and then and interact online to this day. I am happy that you’re all happy, and wish you nothing but success and happiness in your lives. Most importantly, I will never forget the memories we shared.
Then came college, I made lots of friends and one of the best one. I had never been so close to a person as I was to this one. But I learned the negatives of having one best friend in a group. Throughout my years of friendships I realized I do not do well in groups. I always seem to be the odd one out. I am so grateful to the friends who were there for me in college, especially when my dad died, and even if we don’t talk anymore, I will never forget that unconditional support. The thing about friend groups is if someone is having a problem with that one person, everyone gets involved and sides are bound to be taken. Everyone starts thinking about what that one person said and either believes it or just goes with it. For an independent person groups don’t to well. I was starting to become independent and I became someone who likes doing my own thing. The most recent friendship I had was probably one of the most toxic friendships I had, personally. I learned a lot about friendships and myself and it taught me one of the most important lessons of my life.
It doesn’t matter how much you’re there for a person unless they appreciate the time genuinely and take everything to heart. I always felt like everything I was doing was wrong. The friend group would attack me for things that were ridiculous like ignoring a text or group chat or texting while they were talking, even though I was listening. It came to the point where I felt like they had a problem with everything I did, but it was just my personality. I made jokes, I was just being me, doing my own thing. What’s worse is I was losing my best friend in the process. The friend group I had would tell her every time I did something wrong or what I should do and shouldn’t have done, and it came to the point where I was sitting with her several times hearing the same things about what I did wrong, or she/he said this or that, when in reality I just wanted to scream and be like hey, if you’re my best friend, you should stand up for me. I also felt like I was always trying to put myself out there, and cater to her needs, but in reality, when I was putting her first, I felt like she wasn’t doing the same. The friendship was toxic because I was scared to tell her how I felt always felt scared to hurt her feelings. I felt like if I did I would give her more problems, and make her feel like everything was her fault, when in reality she probably didn’t even realize that’s how I felt or that’s what she was doing.
I never got the chance to tell her how I felt and when my emotions got the best of me, I lashed out in the most immature way—by deleting her off every social media after she had yet another talk about everything I was doing wrong. Folks, that’s the dumbest shit you could do and I did it. I did it because I wanted to be alone and needed time to think. I did it because I was mad. I did it because in that moment I felt like if she were my best friend she would be standing up for when others talked to her about me, and I did it because throughout the few months leading up to that decision she would ignore me on purpose. That made me feel like I wasn’t even on her radar or deserved any respect. I tried hard to be what she needed, and honestly, one thing I learned is that if a relationship requires that much work, where you’re always uncertain if you’re doing or saying the right thing, it’s not worth it. Most importantly, if a person makes you feel like that, the friendship is not worth it.
That friend group made me feel like shit and it took me up to the last three months of college to realize I was surrounding myself again with all the wrong people. I was surrounding myself with people who weren’t proud of me or challenging me. They didn’t make me feel good about myself at all. We just weren’t compatible and no matter how I much I tried, our personalities just didn’t click. I always felt like I was trying to be what they needed, instead of just focusing on myself. Throughout college I confined myself to one friend group instead of broadening my friendships, meeting different people and that’s how I spent the last two months of college—that changed my perspective completely.
You need to make friends on the same level as you. It’s not about status. At the end of the day you need to treat a king and a homeless person with the same respect. You need to make friends with people who are confident in themselves as much as you’re confident in you. Make friends who are proud of what you do and understand you. Make friends who have the same mindset and similar personality as you. Making friends is like finding your perfect match. You’re perfect matches are out there, you need to realize your worth and match that. Match your goals, personalities, and celebrate differences instead of criticizing them. Don’t ask one another to change, accept them unconditionally. Don’t let what they’re doing bother you so much. Don’t be friends with people whom make you feel like you’re always doing something wrong. No one is!
If there’s one main thing I’ve learned from all my friendships it’s about mental compatibility and understanding. If they’re the same, you have gold. If they’re different, good luck.
Thank you to every single friends I’ve made up to this point because you have taught me more about myself and the person I want to me. Even if it took me years to realize it, I am grateful to everyone who has been my friend, because at one time in my life and yours, you’ve loved me and that counts for a lot. Whether we were compatible or not, friends or foes, I will not forget any of you and how you were once there and how you have made me the person I am today to myself. I hope I could’ve had even a slight impact in your lives, as much as you’ve had in mine.
Image Credit: See Above