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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

I think I’m a pretty lucky girl; I believe this because my friends are amazing. I’m crazy about the people in my life and thankfully I’ve been able to hold friendships for about 10 years, without trying. The people in my life I believe to be magnetic and charismatic; I’m their biggest fan.

Now, I understand that time and how long you’ve known someone is not the ultimate tell of a true, genuine, and authentic friendship. What is then, you might ask? Beats me. But I will say – although I don’t recommend testing your friendships this way – you can probably tell which friendships are genuine and true when they are the first person you call when you get into a car accident and they help keep you conscious. I think they are the friends you call when you’re anxious and you don’t really feel like explaining why, but they understand, no questions asked. I also think they’re the friends that pick you up from LAX at eight in the morning. You can tell these are your true friends – when you know, you know!

I moved to LA two years ago, and when I moved, I left the parts of me I didn’t like about myself back home. I had friends but no more than I needed, I didn’t like to leave my room, and I didn’t want to try. I loved the comfortable movie nights my friends knew I would say yes to, or the late night pho runs after a day in the city. I love the friendships I’ve made here in LA but my friends today wouldn’t recognize the old me. My childhood friends might accuse me of being a stranger, but they would eventually recognize the parts I mirrored after them.

When I go back home for the holidays, everything is exactly how I left it. Seeing the awful paint job I did on my childhood bedroom’s walls makes me regress into the part of me I really hated, the parts of me that wanted an out. The parts I wanted to shed, get rid of, and forget. Unfortunately some of the saddest moments I’ve dealt with were happening at the same time I was creating beautiful moments with my hometown friends. How could I shed, get rid of, and forget the people that I owe the best parts of me to?

I didn’t go home this past break because my best friend moved to Florida. All of my old friends were going and I was ready to decline because I just couldn’t afford the plane ticket… until they all split the cost and told me I had no choice. So, I arrived at a place I had never been, surrounded by people that felt like home. Then I remembered the ugly paint job and I was exactly who I tried not to be again.

I still think I’m lucky. Despite my regression and change of behavior, my friends understood all the parts that I did not. They saw the parts in me I couldn’t see. Even though I struggled to be the upbeat and friendly person they were proud I had become, they also knew everything before. My friends could’ve easily excluded me and not bothered to make me feel like something worth their time and energy, especially after all this time, but they didn’t. 

Outgrowing friendships isn’t anyone’s fault and it’s not so black and white. I believe the reason I regressed into my high school self is because I felt comfortable. I felt safe. In the beginning my brain was telling me I shouldn’t be there. My fears tried so hard to convince me I didn’t belong, but my friends fought even harder to remind me that I do. I believe that’s the ability of soulmates, all the different kinds we meet. Like the author Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote in her book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, “Intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’ – that’s intimacy.”

Odette is a first-generation Mexican-American senior completing her undergraduate degree at the University of California Los Angeles. This is her first year on the HerCampus editorial team and is super excited about being able to improve her portfolio and experience as a writer. Outside of HerCampus Odette enjoys reading books of fiction and writing songs and poetry.