At a young age, I met a girl named Catie at a dance class. We encountered each other again in our elementary school, although we were never in the same class.
Coincidentally, we both attended the same CCD class, sitting across the room from each other bored out of our minds. After fourth grade graduation, Catie and I ended up going to the same middle school and later entered the attached high school.
Eventually, we became a part of the same friend group and got to know each other a little more. I found out that she only lived a few blocks away from me.
With all these connections in our lives, Catie and I did not become close until our senior year of high school.
I consider her the best friend I have ever had and through her kind, thoughtful, and caring soul, I have learned how to be a good friend.
1. Listen to people when they talk.
Catie and I as Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace from "Pulp Fiction"
When Catie and I became more acquainted in high school, I was shocked at her ability to remember our conversations. I would mention an event and two weeks later, she would ask me about the party or concert.
I had never experienced anyone who made me feel so special, so seen and heard. Catie taught me to truly listen to people when they talk.
She showed me that communication is connection and that when you listen closely, you show people how much you care about who they are and what they have to say.
2. Show up for the small and big moments.
Polaroid of Catie and me on prom day
In 11th grade, I invited my friend group to my last performance with a musical group. People were indifferent to this meaningful event and blatantly did not want to go. Catie wished she could go but couldn't take off of work.
Before the start of the show, I brushed aside my feelings of disappointment and loneliness and attempted to have fun at the final performance. Someone tapped on my shoulder and I whipped around to see Catie.
"I wanted to surprise you," she said with a big smile. I still remind her about how much that meant to me. She had taken note of this performance's importance and was the only one who made an effort to be there.
She taught me to support your friends, not only in the everyday moments, but in the big ones as well.
3. Don't fight each other. Fight the problem.
Catie and me during our first year at college
Catie and I have both experienced toxic people who will do anything to win an argument.
When we don't see eye-to-eye (which is rare), we don't blame or pin the problem on the other. Instead, we talk about our feelings and perspectives of the situation and how to best move forward from the issue.
She taught me that friends should treat each as friends even when they disagree. Even in a stressful situation, you should treat each other compassionately and fairly.
4. Be considerate of each other's feelings.
Catie and me at Wildwood, NJ
My first kiss occurred with many people watching. This rite of passage happened with someone I barely knew and was far from feeling like a fairy-tale.
After the embarrassing ordeal, Catie and I were walking home, discussing the vulnerable moment. She mentioned how her friend commented on how embarrassing the kiss was.
Already feeling horrible, I told her how much worse this comment made me feel. From then on, we agreed to be considerate of each other's feelings and never tell someone juicy gossip if we believe it will hurt their feelings.
5. Friendship is about a deep connection, not a digital connection.
Catie and me at high school graduation
In my high school, people were obsessed with Snapchat streaks. They correlated friendship with numbers of texts and Facetime calls.
I've never liked the superficiality of texting and the constant attention it demanded. Because of this idea of friendship among my classmates, I felt I could never have a true friend.
When Catie and I became closer, I was surprised that she felt the same way. We agreed that friendship was about a natural, sometimes inexplainable connection.
Friends come together like puzzle pieces, complementing each other's traits, matching values and interests, and being there when it really matters.
I am grateful every day for my best friend, Catie. Not only do I feel free to be myself with her, but she always makes me feel better after a hard day.
I hope you all can find a friend like Catie who teaches you about the true nature of friendship.
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