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Making the Years Count

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Making the Years Count photo

A few days ago, I attended a beautiful baby shower for my cousin. Out of 10 grandchildren on my dad’s side, she was the first one to have a baby. The rest of us have truly enjoyed getting to reap the benefits of having a new, most adorable child to play with, spoil, and get to know.

The party was absolutely gorgeous. Everything – from the intricately designed cake to the homemade rosemary sea-salt party favors – was perfect. The party planners – my cousin’s childhood best friend and her mother – went above and beyond creating an unbelievable environment for my cousin’s special celebration.

As my cousin stood teary-eyed in front of her friends and family, she thanked her closest girlfriends who had been some of her best friends since childhood, touching on how many experiences they had shared together and how it is amazing to still be friends after all these years. As the crowd released a collective “awwww,” my mom and I exchanged glances, both thinking the same thing.

I rarely speak to my friends from elementary school and middle school who were subsequently my same friends in junior high and high school. There was never really a scandal, fight, or dramatic incident that caused a falling out and terminated our friendship; for one reason or another, toward the end of high school we began to drift apart. The “we really needed to get together” texts were sent less and less. I stopped making calls to check in and no longer posted on their Facebook walls with any regularity. As my freshmen year in college ended, it seemed clear that my childhood friendships sort of ended as well … and I was okay with that.

No pity necessary, please. Sure, on the surface it seems a bit unfortunate that the girls that saw me score my first (and only) goal in park district soccer aren’t the girls saved on my iPhone favorites list (that sadly doesn’t have the same ring as “speed dial”). And sure, if I were to #TBT a freshman year homecoming picture, it would seem out of the blue, since I only really speak to these girls if I awkwardly run into them or if it is to wish them a happy birthday on Facebook. However, as long as you have a close support system, does it really matter when your friendships began? I certainly don’t think so.

I am endlessly thankful for the people who are my closest friends. These are the people whom I can call with a problem or send a text strung together with a jumbled spaz of words to at any point in time without worrying that they’ll judge me. These are the people that I am confident will laugh at my (sometimes, but rarely) bad jokes and these are the people who are there for me (and I for them) through the triumphs and disappointments that life throws my way. These friendships developed over the course of my different life experiences. Although they began long after our preschool days, they are no less monumental.

The friends that I made at camp taught me to be comfortable in my own skin. Whether I’ve known them since we were 13 or met them while we were on camp staff, these are some of the people who know me better than anyone. From nights as campers talking until two in the morning to nights on staff where we were hopped-up on caffeine and working until, well, two in the morning, I’ve created some of my best memories at one of my favorite places with them. These are the people who I have fun doing absolutely nothing with and understand how one chord of “Iris” can make me nearly cry. Let me tell you: I truly never would have (barely) made it through my first summer not at camp without them.

Friendship reaches a deeper level when you travel with someone. I’ll never forget who I cried with when we saw the Kotel for the first time. I’ll never forget who enjoyed some of the best pizza in the world with me in Italy, who stayed in some of the funniest (and creepiest) of hostels with me so that we wouldn’t have to waste our money on hotels, and who sat at four hour dinners with me in Barcelona sipping on wine and talking about truly everything. There is something special about those who you can create memories with across the globe. It is even more exceptional that after these experiences end, the bonds that you have built make it possible for it to feel like time hasn’t passed whenever those exciting reunions happen.

I am also grateful that a good portion of the first people I met freshmen year are still my close friends; they have been there for me through everything since then. Not only are these the girls that I went to my first college party as GW student with, but they are the people who stayed with me overnight in the hospital when I had pneumonia, rushed me to the airport when my Papa was sick, and brought me medicine so many times that it would be impossible to return the favor. No matter how you slice it, college is a whirlwind of a transition and having people by your side, as you go through this transition, is something that I believe is extremely important. It is fortunate that most of the people who were by my side during that first week of that new stage of life never left it.

People sometimes joke that participating in Greek Life means that you are “paying for your friends.” However, as cheesy as it sounds, I could never put on a price on my best friends from SDT. These are the people who I have been through truthfully everything with and I am sure almost anyone who is a part of a Greek organization would agree that these networks facilitate some of the most meaningful friendships out there. Even though my best friends from this organization are across the country, life’s unexpected curveballs showed me how much we are really there for each other – no matter what. We would truly do anything for each other and it doesn’t matter that I’ve known them for five or six years, rather than 15 or 16.

It really doesn’t matter where your closest friends come from. What’s important is the realization that throughout your life, friendships can develop at any point and be meaningful. It matters that you have the people who you are there for and who are there for you. It matters that you have the people that you can laugh about nothing with for hours. It matters that you have some of your best memories with them and that you can’t help but smile when you reminisce about these times.

The author and poet Ernest Meyers once said, “Don’t just count your years, make your years count.” This quote can relate to a number of things, including friendship. As cliché as this sounds, even though my best friends are not my lifelong friends, I know that they are the friendships that will last for a lifetime.

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