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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lauren Alexander: BFF's...

Do you ever take a moment to think about your circle of friends? Sometimes I find myself taking a mental picture of the girls who I count on as friends and it amazes me to consider the little network that keeps me going everyday.

I had an interesting childhood that took me from the small South Carolina town where I was born to the big and bustling city of Los Angeles when I was just five years old. Four years later we headed back across the the country for a short stay in Ft. Lauderdale and then we set down roots in Charlotte where I was until four years ago. Throughout these moves I found myself friends with little girls that I sometimes had very little in common with on a surface level- black and Latino girls, girls from a single parent home, poor girls, wealthy girls. Somehow when you're 5 years old you don't seem to notice the background of your playmate so much as whether or not they have cool toys and good snacks to share. 

As I left childhood and became a teen my friends were more of my own making versus whether our parents were friends or if we rode the same bus. I also found that my friends became more and more like me- a similar family structure, we wore the same kind of clothes, drove the same kinds of car, and dated the same kind of guy. This was what life was like for me from about Junior High through college. I can look back on pictures now and see that we all started to even look alike! God forbid anyone not wear the "right" kind of jeans or date outside of the acceptable circle of boys. Comfort was definitely found in knowing that I was just like my best friends.

As I continued to grow up and I left the comfort of my hometown and ventured (along with my best friend, of course) to college the novelty of looking and acting like everyone around me started to wear off. I always imagined going off to college and joining a sorority so I would immediately have a group of friends and feel that I belonged. Lo and behold, I got to college and couldn't have been less interested in joining a sorority. I suddenly felt a relief in knowing that I didn't have to make the "right" decisions anymore to be accepted into a group. I liked having my freedom to just be myself and not be a part of anything bigger. It kind of felt like the pressure of fitting in was finally off and I could do whatever I wanted! I was literally the only girl of my friends who did not join a sorority and initially it felt very isolating. But I just knew it wasn't for me and it felt good to make my own decision. College passed and the whole sorority thing proved to be no big deal to myself or my friends. I actually made friends on my own (gasp!) and had the best five years (yes, shocking I know, but I didn't graduate in four years) of my life.

Looking back now I see that the whole sorority thing turned out to be my first realization that a friend is not defined by how much they're like me. For so many years I sought out the person who I thought was just like me and I assumed we'd be best friends. But the truth of the matter is that I don't want to be surrounded by a bunch of "me's". How boring would that be?! I don't need someone to agree with me on everything or always want to do what I want to do. I like the idea of trying new things, challenging myself, and stepping out of my comfort zone and that's what a real friend is for me.

Since I've gotten married and moved away from Charlotte I have managed to find the most amazing and assorted array of ladies that I proudly call friends. It's like the casting of an episode of Survivor- an Asian, a Southern Belle, the sporty blonde, a celebrity makeup artist raised as a Quaker, the type A ivy league grad, the child of a gay parent, a displaced Yankee living in Alabama...the list goes on. The point is that once I realized the world is much more exciting when you see it through another person's eyes I found myself surrounded by interesting, fun, and oddly similar other ladies. No two friendships are equal and you can't compare one to another. The friends I made when I had a learner's permit and zits are just as important to me today as the ones who talk me off the ledge when Nash is having yet another breakdown. I treasure every friend I have today and I'm so happy that I've been exposed to so many new and interesting people throughout these last 4 years on the move. No matter what our backgrounds are, the truth is that at the end of the day we're all way more alike than we are different.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written and so right! One of the greatest perks of getting older is maturing enough to see beyond the surface and learning to love people for who they are and what they can teach us. There is nothing better than a friend who challenges you and shows you a whole side of life you never even considered!


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