I Love My Friends

In middle school, I looked like an alien— at least, that's what other kids told me. I'm Asian. Vietnamese, to be exact. My wide, abnormally large eyes and tan skin differed radically from the image of Asians my peers held in their minds. Due to my freakish nature, I found sanctuary in the papers, books, and magazines found on my favorite teacher’s desk. Being the teacher's pet only fueled my exclusion from multiple friend groups, and I predicted that my isolation would continue through high school and college.

As I tread through the taunts and insults that characterized my middle school experience, I left with a few acquaintances and multiple achievements to my name. The summer before freshman year, I watched Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which conditioned my naive brain to believe that my high school experience would be filled with drugs, alcohol, sex, and parties. Multiple viewings of this film contributed to my desire for a group of friends who would expose me to new experiences and would broaden my knowledge of the world. However, my middle school experience left me with little hope. 

Fortunately, my fears and beliefs were unfounded. Although I didn't leave high school with a boatload of friends, I left with ones I know I can rely on for support and guidance today. 

1. Adrienne 
My first interaction with Adrienne happened in my accelerated biology class when she mistook me for another student and hugged me. One wouldn't think a reserved, cerebral type like me would ever befriend a hyper, enthusiastic, and loud person like Adrienne; I certainly didn't, but as our friendship grew beyond talk about classes and school and into deep, probing conversations about what we aimed to do in life, I realized that I had made a friend. Every day, I looked forward to lunch, a time during which the stress of school and familial responsibilities would be replaced with freedom, laughter, and fun. For me, it's hard to believe that four years of instant messaging and face-to-face interactions would lead to the blossoming of an intensely strong friendship, one I feel will continue growing for years to come.

2. Peterson
Peterson and I became acquaintances during freshman and sophomore year and close friends in our junior year. We exchanged small talk in our two years of Chinese class when our teacher assigned us to sit next to each other, but nothing blossomed from those words. The next year, both of us took AP Physics, a class normally reserved for those who enjoy slow, painful deaths or for those naturally inclined towards math and science, also known as geniuses. Some may call it fate, but by coincidence, our teacher’s seating chart placed us at the same table, which meant being paired for group work, labs, and projects, which only served to strengthen our bond. I regarded Peterson as something of a genius (what freshman takes AP Calculus AB and passes with a five?), but I never revealed my thoughts of his intelligence because we founded our relationship on the basis of witty, sarcastic, and disparaging comments about one another. Despite this sentiment, there were always heaps of support and kindness to one another on both sides. I always knew Peterson held the key to laughter and witty banter. 

3. Eva
Eva always managed to put a smile on my face with her cringeworthy jokes and absurd trivia. We had known each other since middle school but became close friends in high school, and although we did not spend much time together due to varying class schedules and clubs, the time we shared was always filled with questions she posed about the events in my life or stories of her adventures to the beach, mall, or Speech and Debate tournaments. I always admired her ability to speak confidently and openly about her experiences and the lessons she gained from them in a way that made them relatable and understood by many people. Her bubbly and naturally overly enthusiastic demeanor gave her the ability to make friends easily and create an environment that exuded tolerance and acceptance. I always felt safe to be my sarcastic, pretentious, all-around self around her. 

I like to think I outgrew my sarcastic and socially awkward self in order to meet and befriend such incredibly supportive and funny people in high school. More likely than not, I attracted and felt pulled towards people who also enjoyed lengthy discussions about life and death, pun-filled and witty conversations about teachers and the happenings of the world, and novels about physics, philosophy, or a person’s life. It wasn't until the end of my junior year that I realized that I shouldn't have to change myself in order to be accepted. 

It's a rare and exciting spectacle when you find people who do not want to change you or hide your quirks and differences, and, ultimately, accept you— your natural, genuine, weird self. I don't imagine many people form these friendships, and I'm grateful that I could experience what's it's like to have such friends. Ultimately, I learned that friendship doesn't blossom from putting up a mask or from hiding behind an unstable facade. At the end of the day, you must surround yourself with people who care about and love you. The key word is “you,” whoever you may be. 

By Britney Forsyth

1 comment