My first day of school at Prattville Elementary was a rough one. I walked into Ms. Medly’s class to find that I was one of four girls in the entire class. The three other girls were (I kid you not), “the Ashley’s”. Three blonde beautiful girls all on the same cheer team. I, however, was the crooked tooth, straggly haired, new girl; who just wanted to make some new friends. After crying over forgetting my school supplies on the first day, I was well on my way to being the cool kid in the class....
During recess that day, the girls came over to me on the playground. I was kind of wandering around not really sure what to do with myself, because (believe it or not) I am very shy. They introduced themselves to me and I was so excited, thinking they would want me to be in their elite little group. Then, one of the girls said “open your mouth and pretend like you’re yawning, this is a fun game.” My first thought was “man people in Alabama sure are strange..” but then I did as I was told. The girl standing next to her picked up an acorn from off the ground and threw it directly into my mouth. They ran away laughing while I stood there in shock. I remember it vividly; because, not only was that the strangest practical joke ever, but, I am almost positive the acorn had bird poop on it.
Yeah, it was a bad experience, but it was one of very few bad experiences I had with making new friends. Because right after that happened, I learned the most important lesson in meeting new people: not everyone is nice. I was switched into a new class with a much better teacher and very friendly kids. Though I still wasn’t a fan of the humid air and smell of the paper refinery in the morning, I did manage to make it out of Alabama with only the acorn incident under my belt.
Ever since then, I have been nothing but lucky when it comes to making friends. That’s because I have learned to sort through the good and the bad people. (The “ugly” in the title is referring to Alabama, not people).
There are some friends that you connect with for a short time, then there are others you keep in touch with on and off for the rest of your life. One of the coolest things about being a military brat are the friends that spread over the entire country and sometimes the world. I was reading in my journal I kept in sixth grade that said, “I am the luckiest kid in the world, I have 20 BEST friends in five different states!”
But there is also a lot of truth in the saying “quality versus quantity”. The quality friends are those that after saying “we’ll keep in touch” actually do. Even if it is a few months in between when you hear from them. I’ve even had friends that come to where I am living to visit me, and that was always really cool. I felt like I got to share a piece of my new world with them.
I always tried my hardest to keep in touch the best I could, but finding a balance is also important. You never want to get so engrossed in keeping in touch with friends from the last place you lived, that you don’t have time to make friends with the people in the new place.
In 2011, I found that balance the most difficult. I went into that year with a chip on my shoulder. I already had my group of best friends back in Virginia, I didn’t want to be in Montana, and it was my senior year of high school. By this point, I was sick of moving and trying to make new friends when I knew that shortly, I would just have to say good bye again. Unfortunately with this attitude, I missed out on some friendships that could have been really cool. I spent a lot of Friday nights Skyping with people back home. All that did was make me even more upset about being so far away. I watched them do everything I had looked forward to doing senior year, while I stayed attached to my computer. I could have been experiencing senior year myself, just in a new place.
But hindsight is always 20/20. Now that I am in college, I realize how trivial a lot of things growing up are. And if you are going through this right now, you will eventually come to that realization too. But at that point in time, that’s what is important to you. So my advice for parents: just be supportive and understand the position your kid is in. It may seem like they are being whiny and ungrateful at times, but right now, their whole world is this seemingly small issue.
If my parents hadn’t been so understanding by letting me visit friends or even just cry when I was lonely, I think I would have become resentful very quickly. But my parents were always able to show me that they understood what I was going through and they wanted to help me feel better, but that there was also the opportunity to find happiness wherever we were at that point in time. Knowing that I always had their support, made me much closer with my family.
Some of my friends have compared us to the “Leave it to Beaver” family because we're so close. When we moved to Montana I had the choice to live with one of my best friends and finish high school there, or move with my family. I chose my family because I could not imagine not finishing out my “childhood” with them after everything else we’d gone through together.
So to sum it up; be wise in choosing your friends; knowing that there are just mean people out there and you won’t always make it work no matter how popular they might make you. And even more, you don't want to become one of those mean people. Keep in touch, but to an extent. Don’t miss out on now, by being stuck in the past. And hold on tight to your family, because friends will come and go with each move, but your parents will be there, always.