To All 5 Of My Ex-Best Friends, Thank You For The Life Lessons

To All 5 Of My Ex-Best Friends, Thank You For The Life Lessons

I could have avoided a broken heart had I actually paid attention to "Mean Girls."

I've finally come to terms with who I am, what I value in myself and what I value in friends. Thank you to all five of you for teaching me these life lessons well before my 20s.

1. To the 2nd grader BFF who ditched me for the popular girl...

You never seemed sure of what to do with our friendship, so when I started going through a hard time, you didn't stick around to see how it'd work out. Second grade was a rough time, but it became worse with the release of "Mean Girls." Little kids did an A+ job copying cliques, especially that one scene where your best friend suddenly leaves you to become best friends with the girl you secretly hate because she's always making fun of you. Yep, no beating around the bush. However, early disappointments helped prepare me to suck it up when all our other friends started ostracizing me as well.

So, thanks, for teaching me that people don't need a good reason to leave you.

2. Best friend number two: anime violence in its human form

Our childhood was forever imprinted with the rage of "Naruto" and the birth of an entire generation of weaboos, so recess fights were oftentimes more bloody than not. Play fights became a lot more hardcore, because what kind of ninja were you if you couldn't unleash a low spinning kick at the speed of light — Rock Lee style. Though I officially embraced the ninja life after graduating high school, I was just a punching bag in the fourth grade. I never knew how to successfully tell her to stop actually hitting me during our playfights, because saying, "That hurts, stop," was unclear, apparently. I didn't know how to stand up for myself and forcefully stop her without feeling like I was being "too harsh."

So I just went along with it, grimacing through the pain. Until one day... she kicked another kid. And that kid cried. Hard. Not only did my best friend have to tearfully apologize to our classmate, but she also had to sit in time-out for the rest of recess. My best friend understood she had misbehaved by hitting the other kid. But then what about all the times I was shin-kicked?

I confronted her about it but never got an apology. However, I learned a vital lesson.

Thank you for teaching me that physical abuse is never okay, even if it's just a "game," and they claim to be your "friend."

3. Seventh-grade bestie, back when we both needed reality checks

In seventh grade, you were an amazing, supportive best friend. When we ended up in different schools for eighth grade, I knew it would be harder to stay in touch, but we always tried our best — except, I was making new friends, getting along with kind teachers and finally gaining self-confidence whereas you were still hanging with our toxic ex-friends. This changed you. I understood why, even then. It's hard to be happy for someone, even if that someone is your best friend, if you're having going through the worst period of your life, and they're having a grand ol' time. There was an emotional disconnect. That's why you lashed out and tore me down whenever I shared my accomplishments. You just wanted your best friend back. But I wasn't that girl anymore.

I'm sorry if I hurt you, but I don't regret breaking off our friendship. If I could go back in time, I would still switch schools. If I could go back to that night, I would still hit send on that final email.

Losing you was hard, but losing myself to keep you would have broken us both. Inevitably, you taught me that self comes first, then friends. People will always demand your time, energy and attention. It's up to you to meet your own needs first by setting standards.

Thank you for showing me that people can change with time and distance, for the better or worse.

4. Then, the girl who fancied herself as "the one who got away"

Fool me once, shame on you. Fooled me twice, shame on me. That was exactly the case with my ninth grade homegirl. She was intense, could keep up with my adventurous antics and always strived to be on top. She was the reason why I started to take school seriously and actually put in effort to work towards getting straight A's. Except, once I started doing well, she became antagonistic. It wasn't like I was doing much better than her, but instead of encouraging my progress, she would either verbally downplay my achievements in comparison to hers or worse, try to destroy my work.

I remember in biology class, we had an extra credit opportunity to write anagrams of a vocabulary term. No one took it seriously, except my best friend and I who made it a friendly game. We hustled for three days straight, googling every combination possible and racking up our word counts to 800 for her and 1000 for me. Our teacher was flabbergasted. "I should offer more extra credit if y'all feel so passionately about it," she exclaimed, trading off my print-outs for a homework pass. All our friends were bemusedly surprised, congratulating me — except my best friend. She just grinned widely. Then, she snatched the homework pass from my hands and pranced around the classroom, daring me to "come get it." What I thought was just teasing took a turn when she tore up the pass and threw the remains on my desk. The rest of my friends were stunned, and I just stood there, memories flashing through my mind, like wow, shouldn't you have known better, three ex-best friends later?

I realized that one of the reasons she had been friends with me because I was beneath her. I had lower grades. I wasn't as assertive. I didn't participate in any extracurriculars or contests. As soon as I raised my grades, somehow became likable and began taking part in school activities, she lashed out. My own best friend didn't like it when I did well. We're still acquaintances today, but since that day, there has always been a gaping fissure between us.

Nonetheless, thank you for showing me that sometimes, life hands you lemons a second time to teach you the lesson you didn't learn the first time around.

5. The fade-out bestie who was always too busy to keep in touch

You were the bestest friend out of every single one of these girls. You were there for me from childhood to now. When I was struggling, you'd give me a pep talk. When I accomplished something, you'd celebrate with me. You held my hand through so many stages of life that if the memory of you were erased from my brain, then half my life would be blank without your presence. I loved you. I still love you. I think you're one of the most amazing people I know. But unfortunately, I just couldn't be that best friend for you then or now.

I still wonder, if maybe I had tried harder, if I had put in more time, if we had hung out longer or shared more secrets, would things have been different? Where did we go wrong? At what point did I miss my timing? There are too many years to flip through.

And nearly a decade later, I've come to the conclusion: you can love someone with all your heart, you can do your best to change yourself for them, but if you both don't belong together, you just naturally won't stay together. No amount of me wanting that or you wishing things could be different will change that. You cared, and you still care, but you didn't invest. You didn't prioritize me the way you prioritize the members of your squad. And I don't know what else to say, except that I still think all of you are great girls.

As a crew of BFFs, y'all rule.

I'm just not part of that squad, and I'm not your best friend. Let's be real, a girl with emotional baggage like mine? I was never cut out for the #squadlife. Let's just stick to friends.

Thank you for teaching me that, even if you put time and effort into a friendship, sometimes it's just not meant to work out, and that's OK.

Wherever you all are now, I hope you're enjoying the best in life, achieving all your dreams and spending quality time with some wonderful, true friends who will stick by you for the rest of your life.

As for me? I've taken all your lessons to heart. I'm going to do my best to become a loving, attentive friend to the ones who are still standing by my side. Thanks for taking part in making me the strong woman I am today.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Suhyeon Choi

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I Drifted But Now I'm Reaching Out

I'm not going to isolate myself anymore.

I’ve noticed that since I started college, I dropped a lot of habits. Some were habits that I really needed to get rid of, such as picking at my nails and snacking way too much. Other habits, though, I really shouldn’t have dropped. Maybe I just got too busy or lazy, or maybe it was just something for the high school me. Yeah, I’ve changed a lot in college but I’m going to try and get back into the good habits I had.

College gave me a lot of time. Suddenly I had all this free time and I realized that it was entirely up to me what I wanted to do with it. The freedom is really great, I won’t deny that, but what I noticed was that I found myself alone a lot.

Maybe it was my intention that some days I just wanted some alone time, but more often than not I found myself realizing that I hadn’t seen or talked to friends in a while. I realized I wasn’t hanging out with people anymore. I was alone.

Now, I know the importance of myself reaching out. Before I always worried that there was a reason I wasn’t seeing or talking to people as often, I mean, there was school so maybe everyone was just busy.

But I feared that I was missing out on so much was because I was unwanted in those moments. After gaining confidence, I've decided won’t isolate myself anymore. I’m an outgoing person, but I won’t be selectively outgoing anymore.

In high school, I could barely go two classrooms down without seeing someone and stopping to talk to them, and I want college to be the same way. It’s really impossible to know everyone at your college but reaching out isn’t that hard for me to do, I’ve just been lazy. I haven’t put in as much effort as I should be putting in and I know that if I want to keep some of the amazing friendships that I currently have, I need to not be distant.

It’s easy to drift away when emotions and events start piling up. Sometimes, the only thing I want to do is just lay in bed and not think about my to-do lists and schedules and problems that I have.

Once I start doing that though, I get sucked in and it becomes so hard to get the energy to get up and move. I don’t want that to be the case anymore. I don’t want to hide away with the “what ifs” and speculation as to why I didn’t go or get invited. From now on, I’m just going to go, and then see what happens.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To My Best Friends, Thank You

I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

I have gone through many friends in the past few years, some that lasted a while some that only lasted a few months, but you know exactly when you found your perfect person, soulmate, best friend, the one that will never get away. It’s the friends that stick with you through the toughest times and stay.

The ones you call at 3:00 a.m. because you got into a fight with your boyfriend and can’t sleep and they stay on the phone until your ready to sleep. The ones that you can count on to pick you up because you need a ride no matter where you are.

Dear Best Friends,

I just wanted to thank you for being you and for letting me be me. Thank you for letting me feel so much like myself when I’m with you. Thank you for sharing in my happiest moments, and for listening to my saddest stories and giving compassion and empathy from wherever you are. Thank you for being the only person I ever want to confide in. Thank you for being the most beautiful person, inside and out.

Thank you for making the world a better place, just by being in it. Thank you for defining selfless, always putting others before yourself, you are going to change the world just as much as you have changed mine. Thank you for all the memories we made at Disney this year on our senior trip. Thank you for practically being my second Mom.

Thank you for setting the bar so high and making it impossible to find another friend as good as you. Thank you for making these past years we have been friends feel like forever and for giving me enough memories to last a lifetime, but not ending there.

Thank you for making me hurt when I miss you, but for taking the hurt away when I see you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the absolute privilege of being able to call you my best friend, thank you for being my person. Thank you for giving me these reasons, and a million more, to be thankful for.

I sometimes find myself looking back on my life and realizing how huge of a part you have played in keeping me steady when the rest of my world has been falling apart. How you have known what to say and do in the moments when I have felt all control slipping through my fingers.

Even if it’s just dropping everything and taking me for coffee, shopping and listening to me try to untangle the mess I call my life. Thank you for those days when the rest of the world is against me, for making me feel less alone. For believing every silly dream which enters my head and being excited for me about things which no one else understands. Thank you for always validating my emotions, for taking my side, for telling me when I’m wrong, for being honest.

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