Thank You, Next: To the Friends I’ve Loved and Lost
If you haven’t listened to Ariana Grande’s new song Thank U, Next, then I suggest doing so if you’re into that type of music. Even if you’re not, do it anyway. It’s not some bubble gum pop song about love and breakups. She expresses gratitude for the relationships in her life that have left a lasting impact and taught her lessons. I could probably do the same thing, but I wanted to mix it up. I wanted to write about the friendships that I have had over my lifetime. Even though I’ve never had a “squad” for more than a few years at a time, I’ve had amazing friends during each period of my life.
I’ve changed so much since I was a kid. I’ve had single best friends and groups of best friends. With the exception of 2 or 3 people, I don’t speak to most of the friends I had growing up much. We either drifted a part, had a bad falling out, or just grew up and did our own thing. I’m still connected with most of them on social media and occasionally talk in passing, but that’s about it.
It’s the month of thankfulness, and no matter how we parted, I’m so grateful for each and every person I have ever called a friend. I don’t hold grudges, and hopefully, those people who I will always have love for, don’t hate me either. I want to express what each friendship or group of friends did for me and how they made me into a better person. I still talk about these people with my husband and family, because they left a lasting impression, and I have so much respect for them. Many of them inspired me to love myself, and for that, I am thankful. Even if I say I felt alone or didn’t have many friends, that’s not entirely true. I had friends. I had friends in different circles, and I bounced around a lot to different groups. I was kind of flakey back then. I also wasn’t always very open while battling my own demons, and a lot of the rifts were my fault.
To the friends I’ve loved and lost, I promise I won’t embarrass you too much. I won’t use specific names except for 1. I appreciate all of you. I only have an immense amount of love for you all. Thank you!
One of my first friends as a kid was a girl named Brandi. I can say her name, because she has been my friend for over 20 years, and she won’t sue me. She is like my sister, and sometimes, I want to throat punch her. I’m sure it’s mutual. We fight and bicker like we are married, but I would take a bullet for her. She has been the most loyal friend, even when I didn’t deserve it. We tortured our parents. Her step-dad, so to speak, was best friends with my parents most of their lives. We were neighbors for years, and when we moved, we still stayed connected. We painted our lips with nail polish once. It was awful. We skipped school a decent amount. We set our yard on fire and roasted hot dogs. We’ve fought over boys. We cried together. We both grew up and had babies. I could write a very lengthy book on this woman. She will always be there for me, and I always be there for her.
My grandma made me go to church until I was 16. I am so thankful that she did. I may not be super religious or talk about it much, but the friendships I made at my church’s youth group were amazing. Those people always had my back. They are some of the most intelligent, funny, and incredible weirdos that I’ve ever met. When I felt alone growing up, they were there. The lock-ins, the youth events, and every Sunday morning were memories I will always cherish.
Walking away from that group the way I did, is something I’d love to change. I should of had their backs more, and I should have opened up to them about what was going on with me. They will always be people who I have nothing but positive words for.
My First Squad
When I moved to a different town in the forth grade, I was miserable. I hated it so much. Everyone in the elementary school I transferred to had been friends for a long time. I finally fell in with my the kids on my block. There were 2 in particular that I was very close with. The girl was beautiful, and I thought she was the coolest person. She was effortless, and I’m pretty sure I spent most of my younger years trying to copy her. The boy was the funniest person I had ever met. He was dramatic in all of the best ways. They had so much in common, and sometimes, I felt like the third wheel. They were in the same grade, where as I was a grade ahead of them.
They were always so in sync, but for some reason, they let me play with them and hang out with them. Looking back, I’m pretty sure they liked my parents more than me, but I loved them so much. We had an acronym with our nicknames -BFF for Betty, Fez, and Fiona. We were goofs, and it felt amazing to have friends that could always make me smile. We would climb trees, play in the rain, and obsess over movies together. We were typical kids, and I was friends with them up until I moved away my senior year of high school. To this day, they are still incredibly close with each other.
Even though I drifted away from them, they are the ultimate example of friendship goals. I admire how they still stay connected even though the one moved away to a different city. They grew up and had families and jobs that took them different places, but they are still close or at least I assume so due to my social media stalking. They showed me what real friendship could be, and for that, I am thankful.
Seventh Grade Saviors
In sixth grade, I was picked on. A lot. I hated it. My friends were a grade younger and at a different school. I hated the entire year of school, but things got better the following year. In seventh grade, I became close with a group of girls that all ran with different crowds, but we had the same homeroom. We talked continually and hung out on weekends. We would go to dances and hang out in each others’ basements and dance too close with boys until someone’s parent would turn the lights on and yell at us.
These are the girls that taught me to find myself. They were all so different from each other, but they all knew exactly who they were. They weren’t like the preppy girls who all dressed alike and had the same backpacks and jewelry. They had their own style and personalities. They really showed me how to embrace who I was and taught me to be tough. One lived down town like I did, and she wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself. One of them was from a different state, and she was so vivacious. The other one was quieter, but when she was with us, she was hilarious. Our personalities all complemented each other even though we were so different, we all stayed friends throughout high school.
When I went to college, two of the girls and I remained close. We would have girls weekends and let loose. Even if we didn’t see each other very often or talk constantly, we could always pick up where we left off. It’s still like that, thankfully. We all have kids and grew up, but we still have our girls’ days where we go to lunch and catch up. I love those girls and always will.
The Skater Boys
During junior high, I had a “boyfriend” who skateboarded a lot. He had two best friends, and they usually rode their bikes and skateboards around town. Even though they lived on the other side of town, I would ride my bike or walk to go hang out with them. I was like one of the guys. I loved hanging out with them, and even when me and my “boyfriend” didn’t work out, I stayed friends with his friends.
These guys taught me to have thick skin. They didn’t make me feel weird for being the only girl. They treated me like a dude, and I loved how close we were.
One of the guys is still pretty close with me and my husband. He’s been one of my best friends growing up. I’m still connected to the other two on Facebook, and I love seeing pictures of the kids and families. I will never forget the amazing summers I had with those guys.
The Skating Rink Queen
In junior high, I had friends, but they were in all different groups, so I sort of bounced around. I had the friends who lived near me, the group of girls who always had my back, and my guy friends. However, I didn’t have that one friend that I could see and talk to constantly. I had Brandi, but she was 4 years older and in a different town, so it got lonely without her sometimes. I wanted to connect with a single friend and have that BFF bond and physically be able to hang out.
That changed when I started going to the skating rink. Some of my guy friends and Brandi would go skating on the weekends at this roller rink. I liked skating and could connect with most of my friends at once, so I went too. That’s where I met a girl that become my bff for a few years.
She was in my grade, and she was good at everything. She had a lot of boyfriends and friends. She was just so unapologetically herself. She didn’t care what people thought, and if she did, she didn’t show it. I thought she was so cool.
She hung out with a group of people that slowly became my friends too. I dated some of the guys, and we all had a good time spending weekends at the skating rink.
This girl taught me so much. She made me realize that it’s okay to love myself and to accept myself. I wanted her attitude, because she could just tell mean people to fuck off. She was fearless, and she showed me how to blow off haters.
The Girl with the Bad Reputation
In high school, I had a friend who didn’t have the best reputation. A lot of guys said some mean things and a nasty rumor got spread around. This girl barely let it affect her. She did what she wanted and didn’t care. She wasn’t super girly, but she wasn’t a tom-boy. She was so laid back. We became close, and I don’t even remember how. I don’t have many high school memories without her.
She taught me to embrace my sexuality. She was called a slut a lot, but she didn’t care. She didn’t let any double standards stop her. She really showed me that it’s okay to be sexual and be a woman. She made it seem natural, and I was so comfortable talking with her about sex. She taught me so much about so much, and I can’t even explain that in detail. She showed me about being independent and not needing a boyfriend to get approval.
She was one of the best friends I ever had. I think about her constantly. We don’t live far away from each other, but we grew up and lead different lives. I have kids and she works a lot. I always wish her well, and I get really excited if I see her out and about.
The Boyfriend’s Sister
For most of high school, I had a steady boyfriend. He had a little sister who was a few grades behind us. She hated me when she first met me, but I was so extra then, so I don’t blame her.
We eventually became so close. I think part of the reason, I stayed with that guy was because of her. She was so awesome. She taught me how to embrace my weirdness. I was always so concerned with trying to be cool, and she made me feel cool without trying.
I could be awkward and geeky with her. We went to an anime convention, and we could just sit and read without talking. She’s the first person I ever went to the beach with. I have so many incredible memories with her.
Most of the time, I liked her more than her brother. She was so witty and funny. She was a great dancer, artist, and so fun to be around.
Even though her brother and I didn’t work out, I still wish her the best. I’ve tried reconnecting without being weird, but I don’t think we will ever have that closeness again. I am so thankful to have had her be a major part of my life.
After my longtime boyfriend and I split, my now husband and I lived together in a house with some of our best friends. Initially, there were 4 of us. Our buddies mom let us rent her house. It was her son, his long time best friend, me, and my now husband. We all went to school together and were in the same circle of friends. Once I split with my ex, our circle shrunk because everyone sort of took sides. It was a bit of a mess.
These guys were my support system through my eating disorder. They brought me out of my darkest funk and didn’t judge me. I loved the girls they brought around too. I made some incredible friendships and strengthened others living in that house.
We didn’t have much and all went through hard times with jobs and love, but we had each other. I can’t express my gratitude enough for these guys for keeping me on my feet.
Thank you, next.
I could include a few more and even add in my husband, but I think these are the majority of the people who helped me grow up. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t on here and we still talk a lot. My favorite memories are with some of these people, and I wouldn’t take back a single moment. For whatever reason we don’t talk anymore, I have love for all of them. If we talk often and you aren’t mentioned, you know I love you and annoyingly thank you for being my friend frequently.
This is sort of an open challenge. Who helped shaped you? Who isn’t in your life they way they previously were but you’re still graceful for them? Tell them. Share pictures and memories. Be thankful.