In the last article I wrote, I touched on my best friend Bella and our connection through rugby. But I can't really encapsulate how much she means to me in two sentences. She's one of the most important people in my life. All my friends mean the world to me.
I'm pretty good with words, but I don't think I'll ever be able to articulate how invaluable these people are.
Over the past few years, I've come to realize how important it is to have those friends that you can count on, who you'd do anything for, and the ones who'd do anything for you. When I was in the eighth grade, I didn't have friends. At all. I didn't think I needed them, I thought I was better off alone. I thought no one would ever really understand me.
Yeah, I know how melodramatic that sounds, but I was 13 so leave me alone.
The truth is, you can get through life without friends. But it's hardly a life worth living. I can't even begin to tell you how much happier I am now with the amazing set of friends I have. I count my blessings every day for how lucky I am to have them.
My therapist used to tell me that all I needed was my "three at 3". That is, three friends that you could call at three in the morning for any reason at all and they would be there.
I met Bella for the first time in the third grade. I can remember just being able to be myself with her from the get-go, and we were pretty great friends until the 7th grade. Then we started to grow apart. Not for any particular reason, we just traveled in different circles. When we made it to 8th grade, I traveled in my own little circle, by myself, ignoring everyone else. But in freshman year, I joined the rugby club I'm still with today.
Guess who joined with me?
Well, a bunch of girls, actually. But Bella was one of them. Day by day, I learned how to let someone in again. I found out the little dumb things about her, like how much she loves Chihuahuas and McDonald's chicken nuggets, or her hatred for candy corn and the way she steals the ice cream cake off your fork if you share a piece with her. I've learned important stuff too, like how she wants to travel the world and how great she is at giving advice.
Now we're going to travel the world together.
I learned that Bella is actually one of the most remarkable people I've ever met in my life. She's snarky without being mean, smart without being conceded, honest without being bitter, and sweet without being obnoxious about it. I honestly don't know how I made it through those two years that we didn't talk, because my life is so exponentially better with her in it.
I can't tell you how many times I've come to her for her opinion, from relationships to family issues to Pokémon Go! Bella has always been there for me. She was there for me the time I broke down into a panic attack in a school bathroom after a really bad breakup. She's there for me on the days that I feel like no one really cares about me. She's there for me when I start to think that I’m not as good at rugby as I thought.
She's there to call me on it when I do something stupid, she's there to sing in the car with me, she's there with her warm hugs and goofy smiles and infectious laugh. She's there to tell me in all caps over text that I'm her soul mate and that no one gets her like I do.
Bella has this weird way of making me feel so necessary, so needed, like what I say and do matters. She was supposed to move to New Hampshire earlier this year, and I was losing my mind. I don't know what my life looks like without Bella in it, and I don't want to.
Without rugby bringing us back together, I wouldn't have had any of that.
Angie is a girl that I knew in middle school but really got to know in an Intro To Imaging class in freshman year. She's got this amazing quirky sense of humor, awkward charm, and easygoing nature that makes you feel like you could spend weeks on end with her. She was the first person I ever let read my writing.
I've always been pretty protective over it, mostly because I thought that no one would like it and I didn't want to get ragged on or made fun of. But by nagging me incessantly, eventually she got me to cave and let her read it. It was honestly terrifying. Here I had this new, cool friend who was now going to think I'm super weird and never talk to me again.
But she thought it was great! She gave me the confidence to keep writing, to eventually post stories online and for my friends and family to see.
So I really owe her for that. Without her, the now nine articles I've written for Odyssey wouldn't have happened. I probably would've quit writing by now. I still come to her every time I finish a chapter, every time I publish an article I ask her to go read it. Writing is such a big part of my life now, it's hard to think that I ever lacked the courage to keep going with it.
Her and I even dated for a while, that's how much I like her. It's a real testament to both our characters that we were able to stay friends afterward, and things are still really cool.
She's so fun and easy to be around. Goofy and proud of it, she never takes herself too seriously. I'm still working on being as good at that as she is. Angie never fails to remind me that life is about having fun and doing what makes you happy. The world needs more people like that.
Emma is a newer addition to my life, we've gotten close over this past summer more than ever. She was always really close to Bella and Angie before I butted my way into their circle. My favorite thing about her is the way she's radically creative in the coolest ways. From building forts in the forest to painting cartoon characters on pairs of shoes, she's always up to something new and awesome.
The things Emma draws in the margins of her notes are cooler and more inventive than any artistic thing I've ever attempted. She can draw anything, and draw it perfectly.
Being around her gets me back in touch with my own creativity. She listens to folk punk music and has no reservations about dancing to it. She once stayed up all night with me so we could watch the sun rise together.
Not to mention, she says the funniest things at the most random and opportune times. Emma doesn’t get her character from the pages of a book, from a TV show or from the influence of someone she knows. She is 100% made from scratch, her own person. The same can't be said for myself. I know that there are parts of my character that are just there because I thought it'd be cool to pretend to be that person.
Emma doesn't pretend. Emma doesn't see the point in being anything other than herself. If she doesn’t' like someone, she says so. If someone is doing something that makes her mad, she speaks up. She doesn't care if you think the boy she likes is gross. She doesn’t like him because anyone else likes him..
That takes unbelievable courage. Especially with how much peer pressure high schoolers face. She never wavers.
I feel like I've learned so much about how to be a good person from these three people. Just how to be a quality human being. I've learned reliability from Bella, self-acceptance from Angie, and originality from Emma, and so much more.
Sure, I don't have 800 Facebook friends. I'm not someone that everyone likes, I don't have a thousand friends in a thousand different cliques. I don't fit in everywhere I go.
But I fit in with them, and that's the only place I want to be.