There’s something about approaching your 30-year high school reunion that makes you think about the past. Maybe it’s the realization that a decade of my life is soon being left or the idea that I am approaching the age where I am supposed to have it all figured out. Maybe it’s because when I was in my teens, the year 2019 seemed soooooo far away.
As we grow older, and hopefully somewhat wiser, it’s normal to look back on various stages of life and remember who was there to see you through. For me, I often think about my fantastic group of high school girlfriends. While some people’s high school friendships drift apart, mine have somehow stuck with me through every bit of my life since — and for that, I’m beyond grateful. My friends are caring, loving, and loyal all in their own ways, and they’ve only grown more into their unique personalities since the time we met all those years ago.
Making friends — really good friends — in today’s day and age may be one of the hardest things to do. Recently, while overhearing a phone conversation I was having with a friend Kathy, my teenage daughter asked me about the friends with whom I was making my monthly plans to have dinner with. Ultimately our conversation shifted into a philosophical one about her own friends and the importance of friendship. I will readily admit my many failures as a mother but one of the things I am most proud of is the way I have taught her how much my friends mean to me. I’ve explained to her the influence that my girlfriends and the adventures that we experienced in high school together, have had on me to this day. There were many fun and carefree times. They understand how to be loyal, inclusive, trustworthy, forgiving, and supportive in times of trouble. And as we have aged, we all accept and celebrate each one of our differences. Some of the best memories I have ever had outside of my own family were the product of this time. I learned the value of true friendship, and how to be one. I am thankful for the shelter my friends provided from the storm that was called high school, and I am so glad we got to experience the things that we did. I have many memories to cherish.
You learn a lot when you graduate from high school and go off to college or into the real world. And I don’t mean just in the academic sense. You learn who you are, who you’re becoming and, most importantly who you want to be. The people you surround yourself with are crucial to this process. While I have always cherished my high school girlfriends, I’d never thought about needing them more as I age. At the age of almost 50, I’m seeing how major life’s problems such as divorce, death, cancer, unemployment and becoming empty nesters are now realistic issues we are all facing and how much more we need one another.
Sometimes we like to tell ourselves that high school was the worst part of our lives or that it didn’t matter. For some, that might be true. However, for me — those days, those friendships, those connections grounded us in who we would become and model important life lessons.
As my only daughter reaches her final years of high school, she is beginning to shape her own life. As the driver’s license date is looming in her near future and our car conversations become non-existent, I continue to emphasize the importance of friendship, and the hardships she can’t begin to imagine while she is young and carefree while. The investment she makes with her friends will enrich the future of her life.