Be Thankful for Your High School Friends
High school can get a bad rap. It’s not really surprising, though– it’s four years of intense growth, and with that comes growing pains. When conversations about high school come up, it’s not uncommon to hear people say how rough their time was, and how much they “couldn’t wait to leave.” While my experience wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, I have an immense amount of gratitude toward my high school friends, because they played a pivotal role in my development. Whether you’re starting a new year of high school or you’re already out of college, there are several reasons you should appreciate your high school friendships.
High school friends understand where you came from.
Whether you grew up in a tiny little town or a bustling city, you’ll meet people in college who grew up completely differently than you. I left my state for college, and no one there had heard of my small, Midwestern town. It was fascinating to learn about what high school had been like in other parts of the country, and it also gave me a huge amount of gratitude for my own experience.
I realized the beauty of being fully understood. My high school friends shared some of my best and worst memories, and therefore we had some of the strongest bonds. While starting college with a blank slate was exhilarating, I cherished the ability to come home and reminisce. Even the things I disliked about my hometown suddenly seemed endearing. Of course, you won’t be able to appreciate everything at the time, but trust me– one day you’ll be laughing with these friends about the librarian who took her job too seriously or your first love who broke your heart, and you’ll be so thankful to share those memories.
High school friends know your family.
This sounds strange, but I thought one of the weirdest things about college was that I didn’t know everyone’s family. I met a lot of parents over four years of move-ins and Family Weekends, but nothing compared to the relationships I had with my friend’s families in high school. In my town, the saying, “It takes a village,” really holds true.
In high school, my friends, their parents, my parents, and our siblings all became one dysfunctional extended family. I love the memories of friends (politely) crashing family dinners throughout high school, and I oddly even treasure the various lectures I got from my “second parents.” I like being able to knowingly nod when these friends tell their family stories, and I laugh thinking about how many hometown friends knew my garage code and would let themselves in without invitation. No matter how close I became with my college buds, this aspect of high school friendship just can’t be replicated or trumped.
High school friends help you grow up.
My friends in high school got me ready for the next step in so many different ways. In our four years together, I learned how to navigate all (well, most of) the different situations that can arise between friends. Even our fights and disagreements taught me so much– I learned how resilient true friendships are, I learned how to reconcile, I learned how to pick my battles, and I learned how to be a better friend. I lost my dad while I was in high school, and my friends showed me what it meant to be a true and loyal friend to someone in need. Through the ups and downs of a crazy and hormonal four years, your high school friends teach you how to create and maintain strong bonds and you’ll carry that knowledge to college with you.
In better times, my friends showed me how important friendships really are. They knew I had my eye on a competitive college, and they were my biggest cheerleaders. We studied together late into the night, they wished me luck before every big exam, and they celebrated with me when I got my acceptance letter. The idea of “leaving the nest” for college can be scary, and your high school friends will be there for you to help you through it.
Whether you have one or one hundred high school friends, cherish them. Appreciate them for the person they’ve helped you become, whether that “help” was good, bad, or asked for at the time. You may grow in different directions and lose touch, and you may make all new friends one day, but nothing will ever take the place of those high school friendships.