I remember when I was thirteen, sitting on my mother’s bed, sobbing, asking her why I didn’t have any friends. I talked to people and occasionally hung out with people, but my life was never as I pictured it to be. At thirteen, there was supposed to be excitement, wild parties, and summer romances. At least in my head that’s how I thought it should have been. I wondered why I never seemed to make a connection with anyone. The truth was that I had made connections with people, and years later they are still a big part of my life. Sometimes the answer to many of our problems is simply how we see ourselves
I joke with my friends now and tell them they are responsible or how I turned out. It isn’t far from the truth. When you spend most of your life in school interacting with peers, having quality people who genuinely care about you for no gain of their own can make or break you, even if you don’t realize it at the time.
The “friends” I longed for when I was a kid turned up pregnant, in jail, or drug addicts. I’m still laughing and joking with my friends, having more fun than I did at thirteen. If you have that fire within you that says, “Don’t grow up” and you find the people around you that have it too, don’t lose it, embrace it.
Two of my best friends are male. Our journey began at band camp. I was 13, Nate was 14, and Steve was 15. We met since Steve and Nate bonded over their trombone playing, and Nate was the only person I knew at camp. I played the saxophone, but the usually brassy section of the band supported my woodwind playing habit.
I hated band camp. It was only a week, but for my own reasons, I hated being away from home. I was in a strange place with strange people. Not to mention that I was not a great saxophone player. During the week, the guys would do anything to make me smile and laugh. Our bathroom quality humor is mutual, and to this day, it’s how we get our kicks.
I still have a saxophone, and I still enjoy playing it. While Nate ended up with music as his profession, and Steve ended up with music as his passion, I just ended up sitting back and watching. They attended band camp for years after, but that was my one and only year.
I realize now that my problem was not being homesick, but feeling inadequate. The feeling of inadequacy continued when Nate and Steve were in college together in the fall, and I was sitting at home waiting to start school in January after only just getting my driver’s license. I always felt like a small fish drowning in this giant sea. The thing about these guys is that to this day they make me feel like I’m worth something, even when I feel worthless. Not that they are the only people in the world who do this, but from the time we were in band camp I felt I didn’t belong anywhere- I especially didn’t feel I belonged at band camp. Not that we have a band together, but I did belong there, if for no other reason it was to meet two of the best friends a girl could ever ask for.
The lesson is that even when you hate where you are, it’s a place you need to be. If not for the experience, be there for the memories and people who will last a lifetime.