Thoughts on Friendships and Growing Up

You know how in high school we would get this magical thing called Spring Break? Some families would go on vacations; others would be stuck at home because mom or dad had a full time job they couldn’t take time off from. And the kids who got to go on vacations would come back tan with tall stories about their wonderful times. It always seemed to me like those kids got the upper hand of Spring Break. They got to go on a break while the rest of us stayed home, with nothing more to do than visit Sonic late at night and go shopping at the mall just like any normal week.

 

But, the real Spring Breakers were at a disadvantage too. They would come back to school, completely out of the loop on what went on in the suburbs during the weeklong break. Oh, Jim and Pam are dating again? Sally the hopeless freshman got drunk? Those Spring Breakers didn’t know that any of this had happened in their time of absence. They saw friendships shift, allegiances switch, and suddenly they aren’t so sure how to navigate the testy waters of the high school social circuit. But, with a certain amount of time, they learn to float with the tide, and everything goes back to normal. But there are those few days that are spent halfway in the dark, wanting to scream, “What else don’t I know anymore?”

 

My parents never took me anywhere on vacation for Spring Break. Sure, there was that one Spring Break where we toured (2) colleges, or when I spent the whole break figure skating somewhere else. But, I never was totally in the “high school social circuit” when I was in high school. I have, however, noticed that this trend persists, not necessarily pertaining to spring break or high school, but throughout your whole life.

 

This summer was the first one I spent completely away from my home. I didn’t stay in close contact with my high school friends or my church friends. Nothing has changed drastically, but I do keep getting thrown for a loop when someone mentions something that I have no prior knowledge of.

 

It’s hard to enter back in to friend groups that you’ve been out of for a while. I had to, after spending a year of online schooling, when I came back to public high school. Those first few days back contained the most shy me I’ve ever been. But, as we grow up, and as our old best friends turn less and less “best”, we have to get used to this fading out of friend groups. If you aren’t constantly with someone, and you don’t purposefully maintain contact on a regular basis, your friendship will inevitably change. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just life.

 

Whenever I make a new friend, I always assume that friend will be mine for life. And to a certain extent, it’s true. But it will fade. The “friendship light” won’t go out completely, but it may change. As I get older, I’m starting to realize that this just happens. In the past, I took it very personally and thought I had done something to make someone not want to be my friend anymore. Now, I know it’s all a part of growing up.

 

Friends change, rumors change, lives change. That’s just the way it is.

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Do You Really Know Your Friends?

One of my “not resolutions” New Year’s resolutions is to really get to know my friends. Since entering college, I’ve made so many more friends than I ever thought possible. It really is hard to keep track of them all, and at times I feel guilty for leaving people out simply because I don’t have enough time in the day to think about them. So, for 2015, I am pruning my friends, separating the acquaintances from the best friends, letting friendships go for people I’ve grown apart from, and strengthening relationships with people who I yearn to know more about. (Sidenote: If you are my friend and are reading this, please don’t think I’m “dropping” you as a friend. It is 99.99999% likely that I am not and that we will continue to be better friends by each passing day. Never fear, friend Leigh is here.)

 

 I can know the “facts” of their life, their lists of favorites, what they want to do when they grow up, even horrible stories from their youth. But do I know the inner workings of their hearts? What makes them tick? Their deepest fears? If you’re hoping to strengthen relationships in 2015, here are a few uncomfortable questions you should ask your friends to get to know them better.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to share your answers too, so that they can do the same.

 

    1. What is one thing you’re insecure about?
    2. Who inspires you the most?
    3. What is your deepest wish in the world?
    4. Why are we friends?***** This one questions an entire friendship and causes you both to seriously think about whether a friendship is destructive or boosting to both individuals.
    5. Are you happy with your life?
    6. Do you have any regrets?
    7. Where do you see yourself (honestly) in 10 years?
    8. What are you most afraid of?
    9. What is a character trait you wish you had?
    10. What characteristic are you most proud of?
    11. What is your deepest guilty pleasure?
    12. What is one thing that no one knows about you?
    13. What is one thing that’s hard to admit to yourself?
    14. What brings you the most joy?
    15. What’s your favorite part of the day?

 

I love asking questions and being asked questions alike, so use these to guide your next conversation with a friend, whether it’s a friend you wish to be better friends with or if it’s a friend you feel you have drifted apart from. Take the initiative and strengthen that friendship to make 2015 the year of the friends.

 

Giving Thanks

I’m always late on these blogging things. The posts write themselves in my head, just transferring the thoughts from my head to the computer is always the hardest part. But, yesterday was Thanksgiving.

For me, Thanksgiving is just one of those holidays that just, is. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it. My family is pretty small, so there’s never a big to-do with tons of food and family time. I mean, yes, there is tons of food, but that’s because we always cook so much so that we can have leftovers for days. (#turkeyandstuffing5ever)

Thanksgiving is also that time where everyone on social media posts things like “I’m so thankful for…” and “#thankful, #blessed,” etc. I get kind of stingy around Thanksgiving because I like to think that I’m thankful all the time, when in reality, I’m not.

If you think about it, we say the word, “Thanks” for almost anything. Someone gives you a present? “Thanks!” Someone asks how you’re doing? “I’m good, thanks.” Someone holds the door open for you? “Thanks.” We fill our lives with this word without really taking into account what it means each time we say it.

 

Thank (v.)- to express gratitude to (someone), a courteous response, “a heart full of thanks”

Did you read that correctly? A heart full of thanks? Now, how many times do we have a heart full of thanks when someone holds the door open for us? I’m grateful, but I don’t feel like it’s the greatest gift in the world. Sometimes the word “thanks” can be used ironically (it was the second definition Merriam Webster gave me).  The irony here is that a heart full of thanks is quite the opposite than saying thanks ironically- it kind of shows that you don’t really care. Perhaps if we started structuring our thoughts around the heartful definition, we would actually be more polite. The sense of unimportance in doing kind deeds would disappear. And, it would make ourselves more gracious to actually notice how our actions affect people.

 

But, enough with my criticism of society. I am eternally thankful for several things:

  1. I’m thankful that my parents pay for college. I don’t know where I would be if they were not here to support me, verbally and financially. (I would be in a lot of debt, that’s where I’d be..) I know for a fact I don’t say thank you enough to them, so I extend my first heart full of gratitude towards my parents.
  2. I’m thankful for my friends, whether they be the friends that let me vent all of my anger and rage over silly things or the friends that make spontaneous plans and allow me to forget all of my current troubles. I would be an emotional wreck without my friends, and I don’t give them enough credit for all the work they do in my life.
  3. I’m thankful for the parts of me that make me, me. Wow, that didn’t sound like an egotistical statement at all. But seriously, I am thankful to be unique. I don’t embrace my crazy enough (more on that thought will come later, my friend), and sometimes I wish I were different. But, at the end of the day, specifically, Thanksgiving day, I am grateful to be myself with all of my flaws and rough edges.
  4. I’m thankful for the Internet. This post would not have made its way to you without the Internet. I’m also thankful for this free country we live in, with no media restrictions. I’m free to voice my opinions, whether they be with the mainstream argument at the time or completely contradictory. Thank you, First Amendment!

And with that, I’m off to get some sleep before a busy day of Black Friday shopping. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and truly remember what you mean when you say the word, “Thanks.”

Alone Yet Not Alone

So there’s this movie, Alone Yet Not Alone, that my friend Ting and I (along with others) went to go see one time.

alone yet not alone

Disclaimer: I do not recommend this movie.

It’s about the French and Indian war…and it’s very cheesy, poorly produced, and highly historically inaccurate (they tried to disguise the Wren building as Philadelphia…like no.)

But anyway, the basic plot of the movie is that these girls get kidnapped by Indians (ahem, I mean Native Americans) and they stay strong by remembering this song their mother used to sing to them: Alone, yet not alone.

(Yes, there is a song. We almost (jokingly) sang it for church.)

Now, the movie had a Christian background, and the girls prayed to God to get them out of the Indians’ grasp, so the message for the movie was: don’t fear because God is always with you. 

But..the message it presented can be wrongly applied to today’s standards.

Don’t get me wrong, God doesn’t abandon you in times of trouble and desperation. You will never be completely alone because God will always be with you. Yes, that part is true.

But that doesn’t mean we are supposed to be alone.

I always thought that with Christianity, I could keep my faith to myself and still grow. I could be “alone yet not alone” and everything would be fine.

I was enormously wrong.

God does not want us to be alone. Jesus gathered 12 disciples to band together after he left for heaven. It is with others that we can achieve more than by ourselves. (#unitedwestand, anyone?)

You wouldn’t expect to learn Organic Chemistry on your own. So how can you expect to practice your faith and learn more about God alone? Everyone needs someone to learn with.

Don’t be like me. Don’t ignore this whole thing called community and fellowship that God left us with. I’m just now finding out about it, and I can’t believe I imagined I could live without it. The friends that I have made through Christian organizations have been the most impactful on my life. This may be a shameless plug, but if you’re in college like me, get involved on your campus. I’m just beginning to, and it’s already changing my life.

The bottom line? God doesn’t want us to be “alone yet not alone.” With Him, anything is possible.

But with another follower of Christ, anything is more possible.