Throughout most of my life, I've been blessed with an amazing group of friends. I've felt lonely at times, but I've never failed to be reminded of the love I have with my friends when I most need it.
Friendship is incredibly important.
Sometimes, there are some things that friends do for you that no one else can do. They're often in the exact same positions as you; they know what you've been through, and they know what you need to hear. They know you, most importantly.
Sometimes, the advice that your friends can offer, no one else can.
Sometimes, the comfort they provide, no one else can.
Sometimes, they say, "Shit, me too, man," and that's enough.
Sometimes, they're just there for you, to hold your hand and tell you to relax. And most of the time, that's really important.
Sunday night, I had just come through a particularly stressful weekend, full of studying and crying and emotional baggage and panic attacks. Clearly, college is difficult. It can be too much at times, and you can feel overwhelmed and lost and scared. (And that's ok, as long as you don't quit.)
So, yes, that weekend was terrible for me. I was at the point of tears when conversation among my friends somehow came around to stress and losing weight because of it. I mentioned that I had lost 15 pounds in a month. Not an exaggeration. I was met with incredulous looks.
"That's not normal, dude."
No, it's most definitely not. It's because of stress, because of not eating, because of walking more than I used to, because of dance practice maybe... I don't know why.
But I do know that one day about a week ago, I looked up in the mirror and I realized that I didn't recognize myself. I really didn't. I didn't know whose face that was, because mine has always been rounder, with less-sunken eyes, with a smile, with less acne, with... And now? I don't look like me at all.
What's happened to me? Am I really just not adjusting to college as well as I could be? That's probably it. Am I not cut out for it? No, that's probably not it. I'm probably just taking longer to figure myself out.
I'd been feeling these conflicting, racing thoughts for so long, and Sunday night, I spilled them to my friends. A few close, trusted friends. (Yes, I've only known them for a month and a half, but they already feel like family to me.)
So, I told them, and they dropped their work to talk to me about this. They helped me realize that I need to stop worrying so much. That no matter what, my mental health comes first. They gave me my much-needed pep talk. They asked me what they could do to help.
They asked me what they could do to help.
When I said it wasn't their responsibility, they responded with, "We love you, and it's not a responsibility. We care about you and want you to be happy. It's not a responsibility, it's what we want to do."
What do you say to that? What an amazing group of people. Friends are so important. These simple words filled my heart with a kind of love that in that moment was greatly, greatly needed. These people have truly become my home away from home and have become my support system.
They're going through the same stresses and they've felt the same pressures, and they know how to help. They know what to do. They put my problems into perspective for me. What would I do without them?
This is why friendship is so important. I will be grateful for that conversation for a very, very long time. Because of them, because of the conversation we had, I've re-prioritized and realized that I need to put my health first, my sleep first, my diet first, my time to unwind first.
Yes, school is difficult, but one or two bad grades will not be the end of me. This is what they've taught me.
They've reminded me to laugh when I needed it, they've supplied ample hugs when I was feeling down. What's most incredible to me, though, is that they've stood by me through all of it. Through my varied ups and downs at college so far, they've been there for me. And wow, that's amazing. Thank you for not abandoning me. I love you guys.
To that end, I preach, always give your friends the value and respect they deserve. Always give them time, always listen and be there to help and support no matter what.
People and friendships will last much longer (and be much more rewarding) than any grade or project ever will. Tell your friends you love them. Always.