Today, I walked into the gym to take the senior class picture, and my friend handed me a valentine. It wasn’t anything particularly special- a generic valentine you can buy by the box at any store, and a box of nerds that could be bought in bulk at any store. It was a small gesture. However, this small gesture meant so much to me.
Recently, I have been wondering if my friends are really my friends, or if we are friends because we happened to have a few classes together freshman year. Because, ever since I quit band freshman year to take a science class, I have felt that they weren’t really my friends. Because I’ve sat in lunch alone, a table away from my “friends” because their table was full, and not a single one of them got up to sit with me. Because I’ve sat in front of them in class while they have made plans to hang out on the weekend without inviting me. Because I’ve sat with them while they have had a conversation and totally ignored me, and didn’t listen to anything I said. Because I’ve tried to be 100% my crazy, nerdy, amazing self, and I’ve felt judged and not supported. Because I’ve needed support and never considered asking any of them because I have never thought they’d be there for me. And all of that has caused me to wonder if they are really my friends. And I’ve never really felt that I’ve had very many friends. Because, ever since middle school, I’ve felt that I didn’t fit in. Because I’ve been friends with people form each “group” you find in high school. Because I was friends with the band geeks, the nerds, the jocks, and the ones who don’t have many friends. Because I don’t fit into any one group, so I found myself making friends with a few people from each, instead of spending all my time with everyone from one. And that has made it difficult for me to become good friends with anyone. That has caused me to wonder who my real friends were, or if I even had any.
So, all of these thoughts have been swirling through my head. And they have been even more prevelant now that it’s my senior year and there are a number of events happening that are much better when experienced with friends. Things like the senior breakfast, class picture, and senior faculty basketball game. And all of those happened today. And I was standing around waiting for instructions and wondering how much fun I would really have. Because I was standing in a large group of my “friends” listening to their conversation, noticing them break up into smaller groups, and realizing I didn’t really belong in any of them.
Then, I heard someone call my name. And I turned around to see who it was. And my friend handed me a valentine. I was shocked, yet happy, because she is not in my main group of “friends.” She’s the one who will be my partner in French because everyone else has one, and she happens to sit next to me. She’s the one who sat behind me in DOC and listened to me complain every day about how stupid it was. She’s the one who sat with me at lunch last year despite the fact that the rest of her friends didn’t like me that much. She’s a friend I don’t see very often or talk to a lot. But, as I realized today, she’s a better one than those that I do. Because she gave me a valentine. And it wasn’t that she had bought a bunch of cards and was giving them out to a bunch of people she knew. Because it has my name on it. She had intended to give it to me. And my name was spelled right. Which doesn’t seem like much, I know, but I have friends whom I know better and have known for longer who still don’t know how to spell my name. Because they don’t take the time to pay attention. Which means she either paid attention, or she took the 30 seconds to look it up on Facebook. Which means a lot, because that’s more than others have done. And yeah, she was giving these out to lots of people, and I wouldn’t have been offended if I didn’t get one. Because we are more acquaintances than friends. But, it meant a lot to me. To her, it was probably a simple gesture that she thought nothing of. But to me, it meant so much more. It meant I had a friend who took the time to remember me. Because I have felt like Charlie Brown for so long. Invisible, even amidst my friends. I’ve felt like I have friends, but that they will choose to hang out with others before me. Like I’m the last choice. Forgotten, despite being surrounded by people. But today, even if just for a brief moment, I didn’t feel that way.
So, I’m sitting here watching the Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day special and looking at the pictures my friends have posted on Facebook about the senior faculty game today. And I’m realizing that I won’t remember a lot about high school. I won’t have a lot of pictures to look back on with my friends. Because I didn’t take a lot. Because I didn’t do a lot with them. I won’t have a lot of great moments to reminisce about years down the road. Because I don’t have a lot of positive memories. I won’t remember my friends who asked me for help with the homework but never asked if I needed help with life. I hope I don’t remember the times I sat alone, or felt ignored, or hung out with my “friends” who didn’t talk to me or listen to what I was saying. But, I will remember this moment. When I realized I had real friends, or at least one. And I’m happy that she got excited for me when I told her about my upcoming missions trip. Because all I got form others was a “that’s cool.” But from her, I got a “that’s amazing,” and the sense that she was excited for me and genuinely wanted to hear about it. And I’m grateful that she is going to the same college as I am next year. Because I didnt get to know her well enough in high school, and I need to fix that. And college is always more bearable with a friend by your side. And I’m grateful for her. Because she is always laughing or smiling. And her personality is bubbly and makes everyone smile. And she is always brightening someone’s day, even unintentionally. And she doesn’t judge me when I act like a total nerd. And she has a kind heart and beautiful soul. And I’ll remember this moment forever. Even after I have eaten the nerds and lost the valentine. Because I don’t need a tangible thing to help me remember. I don’t need a photo, or a piece of paper, or a letter. Because I have this feeling. And it’s one of happiness, joy, appreciation, and bliss.
So, never underestimate the power of a small gesture. Whether it be a smile, a laugh, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a mouth to encourage, or a valentine card. Because it may mean little to you, but it may mean the world to someone else.