An Open Letter To Every Friend I've Ever Encountered In My Lifetime

An Open Letter To Every Friend I've Ever Encountered In My Lifetime

Thank you all for making me who I am
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To the friends who I grew up with

I cherish every friend I have been lucky to have; however, I have a big place in my heart for the ones I grew up with. You people are the ones who taught me everything and made me into everything that my parents didn’t. Good or bad, I am thankful for that. My childhood was amazing because of the people beside me who grow with me. You were the people I went through every year of grade school with. We went from nap time together to snack time to our girl time that really meant “Let’s talk about cute boys time.” You are the friends who were probably the truest or realest friends I have ever had, because back when we were so close I never had to worry about how I looked what I said or did. Trust me these were the most embarrassing times of my life (there are photos to prove this) but it didn’t matter because we were young and we were all weird and embarrassing. We thought we were the funniest people alive and thought each and every one of us would remain friends for a lifetime or at least be each other’s bridesmaids. I just want to say thank you for teaching me what it’s like to have true friends, good times and giving me amazing memories. You taught me what it’s like to have an all-nighter sleepover, that I am the wild friend and how to be myself. You guys are truly going to stay in my heart forever even if we have been apart for years now. You will be the ones I tell my kids the best stories about. And for what it’s worth our pretend wedding in my basement in 5th grade allowed us all to be at one of our weddings together, which really was a dream come true even if we were 15 years too early.

To the friend who isn’t always around but will always be there for me in some way

There are so many of you and that makes me so happy to say because we never let our friendships die. No matter how far or long you are away we always able to pick things up right where we’ve left off. I appreciate you so much because I know both of our lives get tough and we get caught up in it and can’t always find the time to hang out or even communicate with, but when we do it is the best catch up and we always end up feeling better and refreshed. We can talk for hours over Facetime and our stories go into crazy over time with maybe too many details but the best part is you always are able to interrupt me and give me your two cents on the topic. I love that I am able to trust you with everything I tell you. Even though you aren’t always the first person I run to vent or for advice know I still appreciate each and every bit you can give me because you are a great and valued friend.

To the friend who always got me in trouble

I don’t know if the trouble you got me into with my parents was worth the crazy things I got into with you, but you’ve sure given me some awesome stories. I don’t even know how you’ve learned or how your brain is wired but it’s wired in a way that even made me, a little innocent girl, become rebellious. I used to think you were the coolest person I knew and in fact wanted to be just like you. You were and still are so laid back, easy going and everyone seems to like you as a person. Although you did seem to have a sort of side effect it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, or at least that’s what my parents would say. You never hurt me, however I would get into situations where I knew I was being dumb, but hey I didn’t care I was doing what a cool kid would do and I had fun while doing it (sorry mom and dad). There was the time I got my phone taken away for weeks because I videotaped a kid hitting a paper airplane smack dab into our substitute teacher’s face, all because you told me to. I served detention for a week because of this but I thought it was totally worth it. Thanks for sprucing up my middle school record and making me a total bad ass when I wanted a little rebellion in my life, maybe now one day my children won’t think I was a lame kid when I tell them all about being the class president. And now even though we’re not friends I see some of myself in you, the sweet friendly girl and you in me, the wild side. Thanks for letting me live life on edge.

To the friend who grew to be different than me

I’ve had many friends but never one who made me question so much as you did. We had lots of common interest and lots of common talents and that is so great that we could share these things but a lot of the times I felt like we weren’t quite on the same path. I want to let you know I was challenged by this for a while, I thought I myself had to try harder to understand where you were coming from or for you to notice there was a difference between us. I want to let you know I was always 100% honest with you because even if we didn’t always see eye to eye I could never hurt a friend. It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted our friendship to end but I think we both grew into a state of mind where we knew there was a place and a time when our friendship was great but we just weren’t feeling it any longer and that’s okay. We’ve had some arguments but we never lost respect for each other and we ended on a graceful note which deserves a high five for being teenage girls. I want to let you know that we’ve had some great times and I’m happy with the paths we decided to take even though they were different. I’m happy for you and I know there was a reason you were in my life.

To the friend I met and clicked with right away

You are so like me and I love you for that. Just kidding I love you for so many different reasons and we love most of the same things to which gives us so much to talk about and makes it so easy. Speaking of, our relationship is easy, you just get me, I get you and we don’t have to worry about pointless arguments because we know what triggers each other. Right when I met you I knew we would be great if not the best of friends. You have me saying the same phrases you say and sometimes I even catch myself doing it. When others are around us they notice it too. The find us annoying because we’re so much alike but we find them annoying because they are so different than us. I know you will be my friend for a long time because we already know everything we both like and agree on it and if we don’t agree it doesn’t stop us. I don’t think anything will stop us not even our husbands or our crying babies whom of both will be best friends too. Thanks for being so much like me and clicking right into my lifestyle.

To my ex best friend who I wish was still close to me

This is hard to write and still hard to fathom the distance that has grown us so much apart. We used to be two peas in a pod, for a long long time and what I thought was a never-ending time. Our parents rooted for us because they’re best friends just like you and I once were. But others were not rooting for us, because we were the annoying friends. The overly obsessed are they even their own person type of friendship. People looked at me and they were looking at you too. We did the most ridiculous things together but I mean ridiculous in all the good ways. Never have I ever been able to be so myself with any other person before. You were practically my sister and your family was my second family, I miss them so much and wish our separate ways didn’t put a fork in the road for all our relationships. I have to thank you for teaching me a lot especially towards the end. You became kind of a bitter person in the situation we ended up in and instead me sinking to be like you once again I had for once found a big part of myself that had been missing. Without your friendship, I have learned a lot especially how to be an individual in which I will still thank you for. Other than that, you’ve taught me how to laugh when I didn’t think I could, how to choose a girl’s night being the best option over anything else and how to have a friend that feels like family. It’s sad that our friendship ended but people move on in life and I have accepted that. Maybe we’re too much alike or maybe we’ve grown to be too different, regardless I’ll have nothing but good things to say about you and hope one day our paths will cross again.

To my main clique I have now

If there is any group of friends on this earth that resembles the sex and the city friend group it is us. We have the perfect combination of the sassy friends, the sweet motherly friends, the wild friends and the professional mature friends. All together we definitely have our fair share of gossip and opinions we throw at each other but it always ends up being used in all the right ways. Sometimes we gang up on each other and dangle embarrassing stories over one another’s heads, but it’s all just for our own laughs. There’s nothing quite like you people I have ever come across anywhere else in my lifetime. Sometimes we have trouble finding a time for all of us to get together but that just makes our time together even more precious. Right now, it’s college and jobs separating us but we’ll find our way to catch up on breakfast dates. Years from now we’ll be doing the same only it will be babies and careers and we’ll meet up at the bars. I know now because we have been able to handle all of us being in separate moments in life like high school and college, that we will be able to make it through any kind of distance and amount of time apart. You will always be my cup of tea and will be exactly what I need to feel like I am at home. I can’t wait to continue our little traditions together like having spaghetti and pear lemonade dates and going up north for the summer. Never have I ever found a group so different who fit together so well, and never will I ever let go.

The friend who is actually family, my sister

You're the one friend that no matter what I can't get rid of. Sure, some people aren't as close with their siblings but why wouldn't you be? You were the person who I knew I had as a friend from the get go all the way to the grave. I knew that no matter where I was I would always have a friend because anywhere I would go mom and dad would drag you along with me. You were my friend when I thought I didn't have anyone else you even let me hang out with your older cooler friends when I didn't want to be with mine. You were the friend who would let me raid your closet any day, well actually "let" is a loose word for me to raid without your permission. You were the friend who I would and always will look up to because I think you're awesome; you are my role model. You're the friend that no matter what allows me to say we're best friends forever. You're guaranteed the position of my maid of honor, the aunt of my children (the blood related kind of aunt) and the whatever else you want to be because I won't get rid of you ever. And since we've been so close I think it's safe to say that in this point in life you won't get rid of me either. I could never thank you enough for everything that you have taught you throughout my nineteen years of life, and I'm still learning, still looking up to you and I always will. Thanks for being you, but more importantly thanks for being my best friend.

Cover Image Credit: Sierra Gardner

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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I'm The College Girl Who Is Old Enough To Know She Doesn't Want Kids, Please Respect That

Yes, I am a real woman, and yes, I have a heart.

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"I don't think I'm going to have kids." This was the sentence that sent my family into a frenzy. But you love kids, your so good with them, don't you think that's a bit selfish? Was the first of the remarks, followed by: you don't know what your missing, is your boyfriend okay with it, you're robbing the world of great kids, you'll never be happy, you'll change your mind; each came hurtling at me, one after the next. But me not wanting kids is something that I've given a lot of thought to, for the past decade, so am I really just "saying it for a reaction"?

"But you love kids, your so good with them, don't you think that's a bit selfish?" Yes. I do love kids. I think children are amazing. But that is the thing. I'm not being selfish. While it may be a bit selfish of me to not want to have to sew my body back up while sitting in an ice bath for a month afterward. Is it really so selfish to not want to raise a child in this messed up world? There is a school shooting almost every week in this country. Also, there's this thing called "rape culture" and it permeates every aspect of our society. Many of the children of today will likely be its victims or perpetrators in the not-so-distant future.

"You don't know what you're missing." According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs $241,080 for a middle-income family to raise a kid to 18 years of age — and that's before you toss in college, grad school, helping them get on their feet after graduation, bailing them out of jail after a wild weekend in Cabo, and all the rest of the unexpected expenses that come along with being a parent. I know what I am missing out on: temper tantrums and more college loans.

"Is your boyfriend okay with it?" This one always puzzles me. I'm not saying that we haven't talked about it. Of course he knows. But I am confused by the idea that if he wanted kids, I would change my mind to appease him. I was always taught that I am the sovereign of my own body. But then my aunt tells me that I have to give the decision of whether or not pushing a melon out of my uterus is best for me to any person I plan on dating?

"You're robbing the world of great kids." I'm actually not robbing the world of anything. I'm thinking about how having kids would impact the environment, over-consumption, over-population, and whether it would be fair to bring a child into this world. By not having kids, I'm allowing for the world to have one less person slowly ripping it apart. Mother Jones stated that one American child produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as 106 kids in Haiti. So, if you're concerned about bringing your the world's carbon footprint down, you could just skip having a kid.

"You'll never be happy." I fervently disagree with that statement. An international 2014 Gallup study found that overall, people with children had a "lower life evaluation," meaning they feel less happy with their lives in general. I know so many older women who do not have children and are incredibly happy. They felt fulfilled by other things; careers, spouses, volunteering, hobbies, pets, literally anything else. I understand that many people feel that they need children in order to feel happy, but some of us are not in the majority. But more women are child-free in the U.S. now that at any other time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Almost half, 47.6 percent, of women between the ages of 15 and 44 did not have children in 2014. So how small is the minority I'm in?

"You'll change your mind." And I know that. A lot of people do. My dad didn't want kids, and yet here I am. Some people change their minds, but some people don't. If my mind changes I'm okay with that, but don't TELL me that my mind will definitely change. It hasn't changed for the past 10 years and it doesn't look like it will anytime soon.

As a young woman in an age that tells me I can be anything, I can do anything, that I am in charge of my own destiny; I am often surprised by the number of people who tell me what to think and how I should be living my life. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I'm past the age of someone trying to shape mine. If you want a moldable mind, go have your own child Susan.

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