Common Ground: We were all teenagers at some point in our lives, right? Assuming that is true, then I’m sure we can all relate to the years we spent trying to figure out who we are, what we value, and who we aspire to be when we “grow up.” In fact, most of us are still trying to do those very things even to this day. In other words, we are always in the process of growing up whether we are aware of it or not.
We can try to make ourselves fit in, or in contrast, we can make ourselves stand out. Deciding between these two choices to exercise is no easy task, why? Because it is here where we find ourselves to be particularly unstable. I know I sure was back then, but I would do it all over again if I had to because of the valuable life lessons I gained from those not-so-great experiences.
Loss of Hope: Several years ago when I was still in high school, a wave of instability took control of me and sent me on a wild rollercoaster ride. Because I had grown up in a small town here in Colorado, I had a close group of friends that I had known ever since elementary school. We were always a tightly knit group. If it was the weekend, you could bet that we were all hanging out and doing something fun. Each of us had each others’ backs, and we truly did look out for each other… or did we?
I still remember the first week of school during my junior year of high school. Even more so, I remember that feeling I had as if something was just slightly off with how my friends were treating me. At first I couldn’t immediately recognize what was going on, but I began to understand what happened at the end of that first week. Quite simply, I had been “replaced” by my closest friends in order to make room for a complete stranger. Little did I know at this time that this new person would be the one to kick-off my downward spiral that seemed to continue on forever.
Starting New: Suddenly I felt like a stranger to the people around me. My “former” friends didn’t want to do anything at all with me. I tried reaching out to them to see if I had done anything wrong or offensive, but unfortunately I never got a straight answer from them. Perhaps the most painful part of this whole situation was (and still is) the fact that I never found out why I was being ostracized. It felt as if I had been hit by a train, and I remember feeling a sensation similar to physical pain because of what happened.
It was right there when I had reached the lowest of the lows that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel when I least expected it. Sitting by myself at lunch one afternoon in our school’s cafeteria, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye walking towards me. Without warning, this stranger, a girl, sat across from me at the table. Without introducing herself, she says, “You look like you need a friend!” I looked up at her blue eyes staring back at me and replied, “How could you tell?” With a pause she said, “I’ve been there before many times. I’m Casey by the way.” I proceeded to introduce myself and then I asked her what she was talking about.
Hope Returns: Casey explained to me that she just moved to Colorado from Kansas City and had lost all of her friends too. Instantly, we were able to show each other the empathy that we both desperately needed. Because we had just met, we were able to help each other out without the boundaries of preconception that seemed to hinder every prior attempt at making myself feel better. Little did I know that my girlfriend, Casey, would be the one to kick-off my upwards spiral that seemed to continue on forever. Like two birds of a feather, we flocked together, and still do today, six years later.