To Whomever It May Concern,

I remember when I made my first friend in school. She was like my other half, my twin. I had my first sleepover with her, made crafts with her, went to the park with her, etc. It was grand. I never knew she would turn out to be one of my biggest critics. A lot of the time, when we look for a friend, we look for people who have the same interests as you, who are basically the same. And a lot of the time that works, to a point. I, however, have found the best friends to make are the ones who are completely opposite of you. They fill the parts of you that are missing or lacking, in a way. I think I made my first real friends in third grade. Thank you Anna, Kim and Marie. Thank you for hanging out with me on the playground, thank you for inviting me to your houses, thank you for supporting me the only way third graders really ever could. Without you guys, I would never have known what a real friend was like.

In the sixth grade, we all started out with a fresh new group of people and a whole new set of rules. During the first two weeks, I met wonderful people and thought, I can get through this, as I looked at my first ever class schedule. And then the unthinkable happened. Almost a month into the school year I got placed in the Honors Program, which was amazing for me as a student, but dreadful to me a person because it meant an entirely new class schedule, and an entirely new set of classmates. Not to mention I was trying out for basketball, my first team sport. That’s where I met Ashley.

Thank you, Ashley, for taking me under your wing. I didn’t even know I’d see you again after the first basketball informational meeting, but as luck would have it, we would have almost the same schedule of classes. One of the most memorable moments was when I saw you in gym and you introduced me to your crazy, blonde friend, Andrea. Without the two of you, middle school would have killed me. You guys protected me from the bullies and the haters and I will forever be in your debt. You introduced me to all of your friends like I was always a part of your group. You gave me the confidence to be myself. You accepted me, even with all of my flaws and baggage, knowing I brought the wrath of many, but stood by my side, totally unashamed to be my friends. Saying thank you will never be enough, but it’s a good start don’t you think?

High school came around way too quickly. Larger school, more places to get lost and, of course, new friends to make. To list all the amazing people I met would take a lifetime, but I’ll try my best to get everyone. To my choir family, thank you for dealing with my sass and helping me break out of my shyness. I know it is hard to believe that I was ever shy, but to the very first person to give me hope that I could ever be a good vocalist. Thank you, Mr. Fisher, I am entirely in your debt and I feel like I never truly thanked you for everything you did for me. You gave me a safe place to turn, you gave me an ear to listen when I was scared to confront people for attacking me. You gave me confidence and you helped me find my sass. Thank you for everything and keep doing what you’re doing. You are an amazing teacher and an even better person, and my life has only benefited from knowing you. To my theater family, a million levels of gratitude for giving me an opportunity to find myself. Theater isn’t just about portraying whatever character you’ve been casted as. It’s about finding that person in you, becoming that person, and the only way to really do that is to know yourself. Thank you, Ms. Behzadi, for pushing me to be better in everything I strive for. Thank you Mr. Wayne, for not alone being the best birthday twin, but for inspiring me to embrace every aspect of myself because you never know where it will leave you. If high school taught me anything, it is that life is to short to believe what everyone says about you, and that labels you gain in high school have very little effect in the grand scheme of your life. The only thing that really matters is what you leave behind: Is it a positive message or a negative influence?

Lastly, but certainly not least, Thank you to wonderful friends I’ve made in college. Thank you for that late night adventures, the last minute study sessions, the spontaneous trips, the laughs, the tears. Thank you for everything, because for the first time in my life, I really feel like I have escaped the labels I had back home. You have all given me a freedom that you will never truly understand, but know that I am eternally grateful to all of you. There are so many dreams that I wish to achieve, and already, in just year, you’ve helped me reach them, whether you know it or not. I look forward to what the next three years hold for those of us who are staying, and to those who are leaving I hope we can still stay in touch and visit each other every once in a while. Who knows?

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know this: “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship” – Thomas Aquinas. I can’t say that the road will be easy, but I know that wherever it leads, I’ll never regret meeting each and every one of you people.