Living on my college campus, I am so blessed to have amazing friends in such close proximity. In my sorority house, in the classroom, and even at Starbucks, I can almost always find a friendly face. The memories I make with all of these friends will last a lifetime, and I know that. At the same time, there are parts of my life that they will only be able to hear about and never understand from firsthand experience.
Now, when I come home and see my high school friends, there's something strange about when we talk about our lives with each other. Because we all moved to separate cities upon high school graduation, we have all made new friends in our towns, schools, and workplaces. Our circles have changed, and the common ground we have is two years outdated. At the same time, these friendships mean the world to me, and I want to cherish them forever.
As I take a step back and let myself realize how much other people play a role in shaping my life, I want to thank my high school friends for the way they helped me become who I am. Though there are countless instances I can appreciate, here are a few that come to mind.
1. Thank you for your encouragement.
In high school, whenever I started to doubt my abilities, you all reminded me of my strengths. When I was dealing with breakups or failures, you were right there to have my back and keep me on my feet. Heck, we held giant fathead baby pictures of each other for our senior nights. Whether it meant sitting on the bleachers for a volleyball or softball game or sitting in the audience for a musical or talent show, we all supported each other.
2. Thank you for your reality checks.
I think we can all agree that I am the most sensitive one out of our group, a hard quality to have when I am also a perfectionist. When I cared too much about others' opinions when I let a boy treat me like less than I deserved, and when I took on too much in order to prove to myself I had a purpose, you all reminded me I was enough simply by being me.
3. Thank you for your bravery.
One of you is a state away, balancing playing a collegiate sport with a rigorous academic schedule. One of you is paying for college on your own, working five days a week and taking classes at the same time. Finally, one of you has known what you wanted out of life since we were juniors in high school, and you have never let anyone's opinions sway you to choose a different path. The bravery you each show as individuals inspires me to find balance, work for what I want, and pursue my passions.
4. Thank you for the laughter.
Whether we were 12 and saran wrapping the toilet, 15 and causing trouble in Algebra II, or 18 and doing cartwheels down the hallway, you all have been a major source of joy in my life. I'll find myself saying our inside jokes, quoting our favorite YouTube videos and Vines, and singing songs we've made up, and no one else will know what I'm talking about. It's these instances that are the most bittersweet--we will never have times exactly like these again, but they will stay part of who I am for the rest of my life.
5. Thank you for the adventure.
For spring break our senior year, we traveled to a foreign country together. The number of pictures, inside jokes, and new followers on Instagram from that week alone prove that it was an adventure. Even more so, however, you all made each otherwise normal day an adventure. In our small town, we found fun in exploring abandoned schools, driving with the windows down and music up, drinking vanilla cokes, and eating one too many crab rangoons.
I remember sitting in the McDonald's parking lot waiting for the police after a drive-thru trip turned car collision, blasting Big Sean in the high school parking lot at midnight, and eating Taco Bell in the baseball dugout after-hours. I remember freaking out about the older boy who texted us, staying up all night to try to pry our way into a fake Snapchat account, and one of you peeing on a hotel carpet (and one of you in the sink).
The exotic trip was one of the best weeks of my life, but the way you all brought adventure into each day will also be something I am forever grateful for.
6. Thank you for the memories.
Whenever I talk any story from high school, I always mention you. I'm sure my friends here all know who you are, and the ones who have met you can tell exactly who I am talking about when I tell a story. We bowled, we ice skated, we got makeovers, we had photo shoots, we watched way too many scary movies, we went to one-too-many cringeworthy dances, and we challenged authority (#TheGrindNeverStops #FreeHerHotCocoa #ThreeStrikes #PendejasAmericanas).
7. Thank you for never giving up on me.
Even though we don't talk every day anymore, my heart smiles when I see videos of your nephews, cousins, and dogs. I love to see how happy you are with the men in your life, and I am also so happy to see how you thrive on your own at the same time. I know that if I need it as I did so badly toward the end of my first semester of college, you will only be a phone call away. I know that even from miles away, you are rooting for me. I'm rooting for you, too.
I know you all got so annoyed with me senior year for singing, "Make new friends and keep the old; some are silver and the others gold." Still, I want you to know that this advice has stuck with me, and I want to thank you for being among the gold.
I love you.