Sounds pretty unremarkable: senior year, 8th period study hall. And at first glance, for me, it was. I came in, didn't see any close friends, so I sat down, popped in the earbuds, and did homework. A few tables away, a group of four laughed and played cards. "I wish my friends were in this study hall so that could be us," I thought. Then one day, the group of four invited me to join them. They were playing hearts. I'd never played before. They said they'd teach me.
Almost 2 years later, three of these four are some of my best friends.
By December of that school year, one of them was giving me dating advice. By January, they'd invited me to hang out with them outside of school, along with two more of their friends, one of whom was a German exchange student. By May, I had an after-prom party to go to, something I never thought I'd have. I'm the type of person who tends to be friends with individual people, not groups, so I'd seemed doomed to spend the best night of my high school career at a run-of-the-mill sleepover at one of my 2 best friends' houses. We went our separate ways last August, and it added a tiny bit of sadness to my departure for college. Most of them were going to school close by, and I was the only one who'd be nearly 2 hours away. But this summer, we got even closer. Not a week has gone by when we haven't hung out.
Why does this matter? Because I've become more myself around them. My early high school years turned me into a person who was reserved, cautious, and...after almost 6 years of hating to admit it...maybe even shy. I don't know how I became that person. As a child, I'd been talkative. As a middle-schooler, I'd been wacky and random. But this group of new friends finally helped to pull me out of it. They were always inviting me to go bowling, or swimming in a creek, or to a carnival, and they made tons of jokes and had tons of fun while we were at it. I felt like I had to act more outgoing and fun-loving when I was around them. Then I found that the more I acted this way, the more I WAS this way. They all believed I was fun, cool, pretty, and funny, so I began to realize maybe I really am worth being friends with. When college gets tough, you need to know that you can take a few risks and act like a kid for a little while - like the time we decided to go get into a splash fight in a creek at 9 PM when it was dark. I think it takes a more grown-up person to let loose every once in a while than it takes to stay uptight all the time. And it took a study hall in senior year to teach me that.