To The Organization That Introduced Me To My Best Friends

To The Organization That Introduced Me To My Best Friends

I didn't know it at the time, but these are my best friends.
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All throughout my childhood, I had a very chaotic home life. Although I knew my parent both loved me, their poor decisions at home made it very hard for it to feel that way. When I was 8 my parents had a brutal divorce, I vividly remember the arguing through my home and through my entire family. When I was 13, my dad spent time in jail due to an incident involving child abuse, after having it publicized throughout the community, kids at school spreading many rumors, and parents always staring.

Going through high school, I was involved in an organization called Key Club International. Key Club International focuses on serving others. With over 270,000 members in 37 nations, Key Club has completed over 12 million hours of service each year, donating millions of dollars to charities like UNICEF, March of Dimes, and Children’s Miracle Network. Key Club is the high school branch of the Kiwanis Family.

I served on the Indiana District Board during my junior year. I would travel in Indianapolis, Indiana about every two months, and have the opportunity to interact with other students my age from around the state. The Key Club district board compiled of high school students who, for the most part, never met each other. We were also faced with the task to run an international organization on the state level. In order to be successful, we had to become very close very fast.

I will never forget the day I met my best friend Rylee Briel. Rylee served for the division next time mine, meaning she lives about 30 minutes away from my house. Before our first board meeting, the only communication I had with these kids was through emails and phone calls. We had arranged for all of the Northwest Indiana kids to carpool together down to the board meeting.

This included our now best friends Nicky and Shyam. Since we were all so young, Shyam’s dad had to drive us to Indy. Early that morning, I was dropped off in an IHOP parking lot, so I could hang out with a group full of strangers. It is hard to pinpoint the point where we all became best friends after that awkward car ride, but it happened somehow.

If you would have told me on that day that these kids would be my closest group of friends, I would have laughed. However, three years later, these are the people who are the most in my call log.

Shyam goes to Indiana University, Nicky goes to Valparaiso University, and Rylee is still in high school. When we have a break from school, we still always manage to see each other.

I cannot explain how grateful I am that a high school club brought us together. Key Club gave me the opportunity to branch out of my shell, and become the person I am today. The organization provided me with the confidence I needed. I was able to meet my closest friends through this high school club. I am truly thankful I joined Key Club International.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Ashby

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An Open Letter to the Best Friend I Didn't See Coming

Some people come into your life and change you forever—thanks, bestie.
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Dear best friend,

I wasn't expecting you when God placed you in my life. I had my friends. I had my people. I wasn't exactly open to the idea of new meaningful friendships because I had the ones I needed, and it didn't seem like I really needed anybody new.

Thank God that was false. Sometimes you meet people and you just know that you're going to be good friends with. Sometimes you meet people and you realize that there is no such thing as chance. I think God has a funny way of making it seem as if the things that happen to us are by chance, but honestly, that’s a load of crap. If the biggest moments of our lives were left up to chance, then I believe that would make God out to seem as if he didn’t care. It would make it seem as if He was truly abandoning me and making me face some of my most important seasons fully isolated. But you, best friend, are a true testament to the fact that God doesn’t just leave such important aspects up to chance. Thank you for taking a chance on our friendship, and thank you for allowing me to take a chance on what I didn’t realize would be the most impactful friendship in my entire life.

Thank you for being real with me. Thank you for not sugar coating things. Thank you for telling me when I have a bad attitude. Thank you for loving me through my mistakes. Thank you for supporting me in my decisions, even if it isn’t always the decision you would make. Thank you for wanting the best for me, and for making that your true intent behind the words that you say to me, whether they be constructive criticism or encouragement.

Thank you for being a goof with me. Thank you for putting me first. Thank you for seeing the importance of our friendship. Thank you for making time in your schedule for us to just sit and do homework, eat Mexican food, or sit on the porch and listen to music that emotionally wrecks you.

You’re one of a kind. You’re a shoulder to lean on. You’re a safe place. You’re a free spirit. You’re rough and tough, but your heart melts for the people you love and it’s obvious. You’re more than meets the eye. You are worth getting to know. You are worth loving. You pursue people. You are passionate about your future. You are everything that a person needs, and I really thank God that for some reason you continue to choose to be in my life. Thank you for literally dragging me up my mountains of fear when I want to stay exactly where I am at and wallow in the sadness. You bring joy—true joy—wherever you go. You are my best friend, confidant, and biggest fan. You will be the Maid of Honor, Godmother, and fun Aunt.

I used to think lifelong friendships weren’t really a thing. It just seemed like people always grew apart and forever was never a point that was attainable. Best friends forever is a cliché phrase that is continuously overused nowadays (sometimes, I even used to make light of it), but thanks for making that a reality. You are truly the best friend I could have asked for. So thank you for it all. You make life more fun, and I couldn’t thank God more for making an incredible human, friends with me.

I love you, pal!

JQ

Cover Image Credit: Julia Dee Qualls

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How To Be your Own Best Friend

Flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before someone else for a reason.

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Human interaction is one of, if not the most important facets of a healthy and well-rounded life. No matter how much we trick ourselves into thinking we can operate on our own, we will always naturally crave the intimacy of a friendship or relationship. That being said, it can also serve as too much of a good thing. We have been conditioned to be constantly interacting with another person, whether through technology or in person. As important as friends and significant others are, we can't forget the most important person to our happiness: ourselves.

As self-care differs with each individual person, there's no way I could tell you exactly what you specifically need to become comfortable with your own company. These are a few tips I have tried in the past and currently, that help me reconnect with me.

Try going MIA for a day or two. This is not to say that you should cut off all of your friends and loved ones. Simply signaling to the important people in my life with a message saying, "I'm taking the day to myself today" is enough. Disconnecting for a day to regroup and relax on your own can be the first big step in becoming more comfortable on your own.

Now that you have established some alone time, try to come up with a few different activities to participate in. Do something nice for yourself. This should be something to incorporate into your daily routine, simply to practice being gentler with yourself. It can be as small as taking a warm bath at the end of the day, and as big as buying yourself that big-ticket item you've always wanted. Think of the small things that make you smile. Write them down, remember them, and reward yourself with them. Celebrating yourself for the little things will make each day more rewarding.

Do something alone that you would normally do with others. Grab lunch, go shopping, see a movie, go for a walk in the park. Alone. Don't worry about looking awkward. To ease your anxiety, remind yourself that everyone else is too obsessed with what they are doing or what they look like to notice that you are sitting alone.

Aside from keeping yourself occupied, it is also important to be comfortable without distractions. This will enhance the quality of the time you are spending with yourself. Being bored with that at first can be okay, too. Spending time alone to process your feelings and thoughts can lead you to a clearer and centered mindset. When we feel uncomfortable or 'bad' emotions, we love to distract ourselves in any way possible. Challenging yourself to think through your issues and become your own shoulder to cry allows you to trust and be comfortable with yourself.

When it comes to social interaction and solitude, everyone has a different balance that works for them. What is important, however, is finding and maintaining that balance. Enjoy yourself first, and many more doors will open up for you.

Cover Image Credit:

Maggie Joyce

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