I’m approaching the end of my senior year and I have less than 5 friends in my school.
For some people, this sounds like an absolute nightmare. Throughout high school, I’ve learned that what’s even more of a nightmare is to feel forced to surround yourself with people who you don’t have anything in common with. It’s entirely possible to be friends with people even if you don’t have superficial things in common, but it’s a lot harder to make certain friendships work if you and your friends don’t share the same values.
My philosophy for everything has always been “All or nothing,” and this is probably the best way to describe my approach to high school friendships. I remember how boring I found the first party I ever went to in my freshman year. I was so bored that I had to pull out my copy of The Great Gatsby, which literally contained a world in which a more exciting and grandiose party was taking place. If that doesn’t sound obnoxious enough, I don’t know what else will. I’m really the type of person who will either exert all my energy into friendships and socializing, or none at all. Now I’m here, four years down the road, and nothing much has changed. I still bring a book with me everywhere I go, except now, my friends don’t care about what I’m doing as long as they know I’m okay.
Before I found the friends I have now, I had to let go of a lot of people who didn’t care about me at all, or were only willing to be friends with me when times were easy. This year, I have been so lucky to find friends who accept me for everything I am and everything I do. When I’m with my current friends, I don’t have to worry about thinking or behaving a certain way in order to gain their approval. My friends and I may not share the same taste in movies or music, but what we do have in common are values like kindness and empathy towards people who tend to be isolated or neglected. When you share the same values with a friend, as opposed to just common interests or social images to maintain, it tends to be a lot easier for you to treat each other with respect and genuine concern. It takes a lot of courage to let go of any friendships or relationships that are less meaningful than superficial or contrived, but it will ultimately be worth it if you feel like maintaining these friendships will just be a waste of your time and effort.
If I had to go through all four years of high school again, I would still rather have a small amount of friends as compared to a large group of friends who wouldn’t even be aware of what was going on in my life half the time. I have heard so many people bragging about how many Facebook friends or Twitter followers they have, as if those numbers could serve as a substitute for a smaller number of more meaningful friendships. This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with having a lot of friends in high school, because it really depends on the kind of people you surround yourself with and how much you know they care about you. Either way, if it’s difficult for you to find people who you can connect with in high school, then don’t force it. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior like me, just don’t feel pressured to be friends with a group of people if they make you feel insignificant or if you can’t fully be yourself when you’re around them.