To my roommate, if I never had the guts to message you about rooming together because you said you wanted to room with someone with different interests, we would have never ended up in our happy home together. We would never laugh about our different bedtimes, poke fun at our different caffeine tolerances, or have a slew of shared stories about boys who complicated our lives. We would have never woken up at the crack of dawn together or shared a love of goldfish and hummus. Even though we ended up in the same campus ministry, it scares me so much that we might not have known each other the way we do and that all of our inside roommate jokes would never have existed.
To one of my first and best friends, I can't imagine my life here without you. I'd lose all of our coffee dates, our venting and crying sessions and our walks, arm-in-arm, around campus. We would never have late night study sessions in Raoul, eaten raw spinach and ice cream at the Duc, or make jokes about how much coffee you drink. We would have never been just a Snapchat away for advice, encouragement and crises', and we would never have survived all our difficult conversations, deep talks and cry-sessions together. Only an hour before I met you for the first time at the RUF barbecue, I was paralyzed with social anxiety and was so close to saying 'no' to going. It's crazy to imagine that one 'no' could have caused us never to meet.
To my Telefund buddies, thank you for everything. Thank you for always having a wacky, weird story to share before we started calling and for complaining about how difficult it was to ask people for money on the phone, and for the after-work adventures to Woody's (even when we knew we shouldn't). Thank you for the conversations in between phone calls about the best and worst clients we ever called, favorite books, mental health, or just complaining about everything in life. Thank you for the Monday-night shift where we would play word games on the projector, and the stomach-dropping fear we had when we discovered we were calling our friends' parents. Thank you, Telefam, for providing the community I needed my first semester – a community that I would have never known had I not pushed through my fear of calling people on the phone.
To my freshman seminar buddy, if I had decided to play it safe and take a late-morning seminar rather than an 8:30 am, we might have passed each other by. We would have never eaten breakfast at 8 in the morning or shared our frustration about the hundred-page readings we had to do for each week. We would never have laughed at how you always raised your hand in class when no one else did or complained about the research papers we still haven't started. I would not have been happy to see you every Monday or Wednesday for breakfast, and although I regret taking a class so early, I'm glad that our friendship came out of it.
To one of my sweetest and kindest friends, it's scary how close we were to never meeting. We would never have made gingerbread houses on paper towels, gone to see the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in leggings and sweatshirts or sang the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack together. I would never have all these memories of us in Savannah, trying to do splits on the beach, taking photoshoot pictures of each other and having deep conversations during our road trip home at night. We would never have supported each other through venting about difficult friendships, getting upset about rejections, or through packing up my room an hour before winter break. We're so involved in different majors and different organizations that, if my mom didn't encourage me to text you first even though I was scared, we would have never become friends.
To my friend from Bread Coffeehouse, if I hadn't said 'yes' to going on the adventure course with near-strangers during our retreat, we would never have started talking in the woods in between activities. And then we never would have talked about our families in front of the fireplace outside and explored the retreat gift shop. And then we might have never had our Wednesday lunchtime dates, or discussed our creative writing workshop together, or eaten at the Dragon Bowl together. And I might never have known such a kind and happy friend who believes in me and brings me chocolate during a difficult week. Even though we both go to Bread, saying 'no' to going on the fall retreat we met because I was scared it wouldn't be worth it might have resulted in a lesser friendship.
To all my friends at Emory, it's weird to imagine a life without you. A life where we wouldn't go to the Duc together, both appreciate and complain about the food, get to know each other over conversation and dance to the songs. A life where I wouldn't walk down the same path every morning and wave to and hug all of you. A life where "when are you working at the Telefund", "are you going to Bread later" and "are you going to the Duc" are questions that I would never ask. A life where you aren't just a text away, where we aren't there to encourage each other or where I wouldn't shout "FRIEND!" across the quad to grab your attention. And it all boils down to one big decision eleven months ago, when I said, "yes" to Emory even though I was absolutely terrified of what my "yes" would bring.
I don't always form great relationships with every 'yes' that I say despite my fear. Sometimes, I regret saying 'yes' to something that I was scared of and then regret the outcome. I also don't mean to say that the best friendships I have come purely from conquering fear. Some of my dearest friends here didn't result from me putting myself in an uncomfortable situation. But I stand firm that each relationship that we form starts with the decisions we make. For me, saying 'yes' to adventure and 'no' to fear brought some pretty amazing and gratitude-inspiring people into my life. That makes me realize that letting fear or hesitation rule my lives is futile, because in saying 'no' to an opportunity, I could lose some meaningful and worthwhile relationships.
So, let's take the leap in saying 'yes', trusting we are leaving the door open for new friendships and memories. As for me? I'm so excited for all the 'yes's' I've recently said, even though they were scary. To all the people on staff with me for Complex Hall next year, and to all my fellow camp counselors this summer – I can't wait for all the friendships we are going to form, and all the memories that we are going to make.