We’ve all had our fair share of friendships throughout our lifetime. They come and go, sometimes even when you’re not expecting them to. Personally, I’ve had a lot of friendships end that I wasn’t prepared to lose, or at least that’s what I thought at the time. I have a history of holding on too tightly to people that aren’t meant to be in my life forever. I’ve stayed in friendships that made me miserable, but I felt like I wouldn’t have anyone if I didn’t stay. Now, this may sound like someone talking about a toxic romantic relationship. In a way, that’s exactly what it’s like. Old “friends” I’ve had have constantly come to me to solve their problems, but when it came to my own, they were nowhere to be found. I’ve had them ignore me for days, only to completely turn a 180 and be back to normal with no explanation, leaving me to feel like I was going crazy. I’ve had people walk all over me, and I allowed it to happen. Some people have a way of manipulating you into thinking the problem is you, which it isn’t, I promise. It takes a while to get to that point, but I promise you things get easier when you know that.
Coming to college four years ago, I was still in the old mindset of, “Whoever I meet here will eventually leave me.” While this definitely isn’t the healthiest way to think, it was what I had been used to for years and years of my life. Little did I know that in just a short couple of weeks, I’d begin to meet the people who would change my life permanently and for the better. I walked into my freshman year acting class and picked a seat in the middle row, which in my mind was a perfect balance of being seen while staying invisible. As more of the class came into the room, I kept myself distracted with my phone, and I suddenly realized I wasn’t alone in that row anymore. Two people had sat beside me, one a purple-haired boy and the other a blonde girl. Of all the empty seats they ended up next to me.
I don’t know if you believe in fate, but that’s what it felt like. As the weeks of that first semester went on, the three of us became quite the close group. It didn’t take long at all for Nikki and Joe to break down my walls and become two people who I could share anything with. It was throwing me for a loop; I’d never let someone into my life so quickly before, let alone two people! I could go on and on about how over the past four years those two have helped me become more confident in myself, my feelings, and my talents, but that would make this article 200 pages long. I will, however, tell you about the moment something in my brain clicked, and I knew that these two were brought into my life not only to change it, but to stay in it forever. There was a night where Nikki invited Joe and me to hang out in her dorm room. The plan was to watch a movie, maybe get some Sugar Bowl delivered, and call it a night. Well, we did do both of those things, but never left the room. We stayed in that room and just talked for almost six hours straight, and that isn’t an exaggeration. We talked about everything from family life, to our views on the world, to old friends we’d had, to the weather. I told them things I hadn’t told some of the friends I’d known for seven years. I felt deep in my soul that I could trust them, and we all talked freely without fear of judgement.
It was through these two that I was then opened up to accepting more people into my heart, and in the years after that night, I met more of the friends who become more like family every day. Thanks to Nikki offering me a place in her apartment plan for junior year, I was able to meet Kaylee, Steph, and Hannah. I had already known Hannah and Kaylee briefly, as they were Nikki’s roommates the previous year, but living with them allowed us to become even closer. Joe being involved with ACMO opened me up to more people in the theater community on campus, and I met Anna, Bailey, Benjamin, and a handful of others. I now have a close-knit group of people in my life who I can trust with any thought, feeling or idea I have, and I know that they truly care about me and what I have to say.
My apartment roommates of the past two years (and you too Joe I haven’t left you out of this statement) have truly solidified for me what it means to have a true friend. We’ve all seen each other happy, sad, angry, and every emotion in between. We’ve seen each other through breakups, new relationships, family member deaths, pet deaths, and every imaginable scenario in between. We keep each other honest, and can always tell (sometimes even without words) when something is wrong. The difference between some of my old friendships and these ones though, is that there’s an even exchange of love and support between myself and them. Every single one of these five people has helped been unapologetically themselves and has let me be me without judgement, and that is something I value so greatly. Knowing that there are people who truly care about you, and actively show you both with words and actions is not only a new feeling, but an incredible one.
I know now what it’s like to have friends who truly love you and want what’s best for you. Finding true lifelong friends is a tough but rewarding journey. It took years to fully understand what true friendship feels like, but now that I have them, there’s no way I’m letting them go without a fight. The beautiful thing is that I know they aren’t going anywhere anyway. I love you all with my entire being.