Reflecting on my first year of college, I can't help but feel completely spoiled; I have the best friends in the entire world. Going to a university 7 hours away from home has allowed me to meet the loveliest people from all over the country, and I cherish them greatly. College friends are ones that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

But high school friends are a different breed.

I hereby dedicate this article to the friends I made in high school, because God knows they don't get the recognition they deserve.

To my first companions:

I wish I could travel back in time to the very first day of high school and tell our scrawny, awkward selves that something amazing was about to happen.

In a time of insecurities and uncertainties, the universe blessed me with the most amazing people (that I totally do not deserve). In our first moments as total strangers, sitting in a physics classroom with backpacks way too big for us, the squad was born.

From then on, everything about our friendship has been magically improvisational. We somehow found an incredibly ridiculous topic to discuss every day at lunch, even when it was as simple as the pronunciation of the beloved pancake topping (it's maple SEAR-up, by the way). We'd marvel at our own abilities to burst into laughter at completely inappropriate times, like when our teacher's science experiment went horribly wrong and resulted in a bowling ball flying through the air and the man falling flat on his face.

We've accompanied each other to countless dances, procuring a congregation of chaotic group photos over the years. It's you guys that I love to tear up the dance floor with more than anyone (including Patrick Swayze). We've tried our hands at bowling, cliff jumping, kayaking, paddle boarding (with multiple people and dogs at a time), boating, hammocking, cooking, card games (KEMPS, spoons, UNO, you name it!) and camping with a tent the size of a potato sack. We've celebrated literally every occasion- from birthdays to holidays to graduations- with an epic feast built for the gods. I think maybe our best asset as a group is eating colossal amounts of food in one sitting.

Or watching scary movies. We're also very good at that.

We've celebrated it all. But even in the bad times, I've personally celebrated your presence. Through the drama and routine pettiness of high school, we've held each other accountable. Through shifts in maturity and coming of age crises, through first kisses and first college acceptance letters, and even through the loss of loved ones and a good share of broken hearts, you've had mine through it all.

There is nothing more extraordinary than knowing that someone loves you for every weird, quirky, idiosyncratic fiber of your being, because they have all along.

That's what so special about high school friends!

They've seen the most YOU version of yourself: from the gawkiest stage to wherever you sit now, reading this letter.

As far as discovering where I'm going, I know I don't want it to be anywhere that won't have you guys.

We've watched too many sunsets to mention together. At the end of the day, you are the people I want beside me. That's because I know that when the sun sets, it's not the end. Knowing us, it's only the beginning of a night full of shenanigans and adventures (and hopefully s'mores).

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Here's to so many more laughs that we get wrinkles early.

With love,

Lil