Opinion | Four years of friendship


Jessica Sehgal, Executive Editor

Sandwiched between two glittery, cheaply-constructed covers of a Justice brand diary lies my future. At least, that’s what I believed when I was seven.

I’ve had the same best friend since I was four years old, and by elementary school, we had our entire lives mapped out together in the journal we shared. Between every time we saw each other one of us would take a turn keeping the sacred journal in our possession, and we would be sure to add at least one new extravagant detail to our already sure-to-be lush lives which included a luxury apartment in New York and a fuzzy, hot pink couch with the word “awesome” printed in bold across the seat. Of course, the most important element of the plan was going to college together.

As I leave high school, I’m due for a myriad of goodbyes. Goodbye to my familiar home of 18 years and the familiar faces that come with it. Goodbye to awkward glances and halfway sincere smiles as I pass by the guy I relied on for Spanish answers freshman year, and goodbye to the occasional two minutes of small talk when I bump into the mom of an old friend from middle school at the coffee shop near my house. Goodbye to walking into my friends’ houses unannounced, crawling into their beds and eating all of their food. Goodbye to my best friend who—despite our written pact—will be 2,000 miles away from me.

The relationships you make in high school are often thought to be a stepping stone for the greater things that lie ahead—an impermanent chapter of childish fun and depthless companionship. But contrarily, the people who have come into my life in these four years have challenged me, delighted me, infuriated me, and molded me in an ever-lasting way. Our high school friendships are written off as naive, but truly, they’re formative. Saying goodbye doesn’t mean forgetting, but rather, appreciating and reflecting on the impact that my high school relationships have had on me.

Despite my freshman year expectations, my friends did not stay the same all four years. There were girls I spent everyday with, confident we’d be friends forever, but when our class schedules no longer aligned and we fell in with different groups of people, it turned out our friendship wasn’t meant to last. As a sensitive person (who tries to pretend like they aren’t super sensitive), this was a tough pill to swallow for a long time.

Sophomore year, I found out from an Instagram story that one of my best friends from freshman year had a boyfriend, and despite my overall happiness for her, a few soft teardrops rolled down my cheek out of mourning for what I just then noticed I had lost. The previous year, I would’ve heard all of the details—the ins and outs of all of his flirtatious gestures and stupid screw-ups. But now, I felt so distant from someone I used to feel so intimate with. What made it harder was that our friendship hadn’t ended in a huge fight; there was no moment or reason that I could point to as the terminating factor. We had just drifted apart. It had happened so naturally I hadn’t even noticed it, and that was what hurt the most. In what felt like overnight, we had gone from some of the most important people in each other’s lives to merely background characters.

This same outcome was true for several of my friendships throughout high school, and after getting past my initial refusal to acknowledge that I had failed to maintain multiple friendships, I realized that just because their time in my life was temporary does not mean our relationship was purposeless.

At a time of rapid identity confusion and development, the friendships I’ve held in high school have a unique layer of complexity that I will never be able to replicate with future friends to come. My friendships that have drifted apart have provided me with an instrument for introspection. As I’ve grown out of each friendship, I’ve grown one step closer to discovering who I am as a person, making note of where we were incompatible and deciding which parts of our friendship to hold with me and which to leave behind.

My friends that I’ve maintained strong friendships with have painted parts of my heart with little bits of themselves, each portion being as unique and beautiful as the artist.

Through every uncontrollable laugh, I’m reminded of life’s sweetness. Through every stupid argument, I’ve learned how to communicate my needs and accommodate theirs. Through every passionate rant, I’ve challenged my beliefs and founded new ideas. Through every teenage insecurity, we’ve grown unspokenly closer to each other, lifting each other up rather than competing. It was my friends who wiped my tears as I wished that the space below my hips didn’t curve inwards and my nose fit differently on my face, and it was my friends who, through their unconditional praise and acceptance, taught me how to feel beautiful.

As I was going into sophomore year, my boyfriend at the time broke up with me. I went over to my friend’s house a few days later for a bonfire, and while I had prepared for a night of s’mores and gossip, I quickly failed to hide my heartbreak. As teardrops flowed from my swollen eyes, my friends sat there and listened. They didn’t complain about how I had drastically changed our plans for the night; they didn’t dismiss my highly dramatic reaction about the end of a toxic relationship. They sat out on the tapered, plaid couch cushions for hours, stroking my hair as I sobbed until I could no longer make out the stars. Although I had lost someone who I believed I had loved at the time, my friends showed me all of the love that will always be available to me. Whether we had spent the night snacking and laughing or bawling and consoling, my friends had always and would always love me. 

Now, as my time left unexpectedly barging into my friends’ homes grows thinner, I realize how lucky I’ve been these past four years. Never again, will I meet friends who have seen me and helped me grow into myself amidst a time period of wavering self-esteem and emerging individuality—who have pushed me to achieve more while also offering a familiar cornerstone to lean back on.

So although all of my dreams from my since-abandoned diary are unlikely to make it off the pink, lined paper, I’ve already achieved the one dream that truly matters: I have people that care about me. No matter where life takes me next, I will always hold with me the messages and memories from my beloved, impactful, intricate and sincere high school friendships.