Every book I read growing up convinced me that I needed to have a "best friend." I had good friends in high school, but I wanted one person to confide in. Leave it to me, the lover of hate-to-love romances, to find a best friend in the one girl I'd always said I couldn't stand. She was nothing like I'd imagined, which taught me to stop assuming I knew anything about other people. For years, we'd laugh at the way our friendship started. With that crazy beginning, I thought I'd found someone who'd be my friend for the rest of my life.
When You Let It Go
Things changed in college. It didn't happen overnight, but I didn't see it coming either. It felt like it was happening at the worst possible time, and the whole situation was isolating and lonely. I was heartbroken, and it changed something in me. It sounds a little dramatic, but it's like I was mourning the friendship. I was, to be honest, bitter about the whole thing. I became insecure about my other friendships and distrustful of people.
When You Least Expect It
Around this same time, I moved into a house with two of my closest friends for my junior year of college. I was excited about living with them... but also kind of dreading it. You see a different side of people when you live with them, and I wondered what would happen next. One of those friends was a girl named Lauren. She was in my sorority, and I’d known her since freshman year. And despite all my insecurity about friendship at that point in time, I realized that I liked her even better the more I got to know her.
Fast forward eight years, and I recently got home from a trip to the beach with her. We ditched our husbands and spent five days in the Keys. It was, quite honestly, heavenly. We read books, ate an insane amount of chips and salsa, talked about the important and the silly stuff, shared memories and made new ones. And at one point on the trip, the thought crossed my mind – I would have missed out on this if I'd let my bad experience define my feelings on friendship.
When You Open Up
It's scary to to open your heart. It feels like a risk, and the reward isn't guaranteed. Sometimes you'll show a part of yourself to people who won't really see you. You'll let people in and later have to let them back out. You'll have friends for a season that you thought would last forever. But then there are moments that prove it's all worth it. There are people who remind you that being brave and loving deeply is how you're truly known.
The friendships with permanence, the ones that change you from the inside out, are the ones that are honest. I can talk to Lauren about everything from the color I painted my nails to the pain of dreams deferred. But at the end of the day, I'm often still cautious in friendship when I want to be courageous. So while my vacation offered much-needed relaxation, it was also an overdue reminder that there's beauty in loving other people.
When You Let People In
Eight years ago, I met Lauren and liked her. We went shopping for socials and debated options for date nights. We'd walk together to tail gates, and sweat our makeup off in the sun. We'd watch The Bachelorette in pajamas and had no shame in being the only adults in the theater for the Justin Bieber movie. We'd dance on bid day, roll our eyes at chapter, and tried to solve the mystery of who was stealing food from the snack room fridge.
In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth asks Darcy when he began loving her. He responds by telling her, "I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun." That's what happened with Lauren. In the midst of all the silliness and shenanigans, I got to be real with her. It made all the difference, and my life is better because of it.
You never know who those people will be for you, but don't you want to find out? As a freshman in college, I didn't know where I'd be today. I lost one friend, but I gained one, too. One friend broke my heart and another friend helped it heal. And here's the thing – I'd go through it all again to end up where I am now. I can invite people into the mess or only let them see through a filter. I know which one feels safer, but I also know which one leads to real friendship.
I don't want to give up the chance at laughter in order to guard myself against tears. I want to show up – in the big moments and the small. To apologize and forgive. To ask questions and tell jokes. To be brave and a little scared. To see someone's story and be seen in return. So, here's to the friends who inspire all of that and more.