All my life I have valued relationships, especially my friendships. I was always outside or at a friend’s house when I was younger. If I wasn’t out with friends then I was at home asking if they could come over. I mean, there was just something about having another person who shared the same interests as I did, liked to play the same things that I did and just have people that I could make memories with around me.
I experienced some trauma while growing up so as a result I don’t remember a whole lot. Yet, I can remember some of my best friendships from at least age 8 and up. For me, friendships are meaningful and in a lot of ways magical. For this reason, it always throws me off when others tell me they don’t have any friends. I’m even more taken back when they express that they don’t need any friends. My immediate response is always, “Yes you do! Why do you think that?” Now, I know that’s not completely fair. Everyone isn’t me and not everyone feels the same way about friendships the way that I do.
As I said, my appreciation for friendships stem from my value of relationships as a whole. Many people have experienced broken relationships throughout their life — most from familial relationships. By the time that they get friends, there is already a level of decreased expectations and value of a friendship. For me, it was different. My dad and I didn’t have the best relationship growing up, my sister used to get on my nerves at times, and of course I wasn’t always happy with my mom. I was the baby of three children who thought I was in charge of the whole house. So you can see how there would be conflict between my mom and I. Yet, I still valued the relationships that I had with each family member, and that value spilled over into my social relationships.
I found that at times my friends were my family or were there for me when my family wasn’t able to be. By the age of nineteen, my friends had become my support system, my accountability, my safe place. I knew and still know that I can count on them for anything, but I’m smart enough to know I can’t go to them for everything. I learned to manage my expectations with people, because at the end of the day they are only human, and there is only so much that they can do. I am grateful for my friendships and when I think of a safe place, my friends faces start to appear. I think of the times when I was scared to go after a job and they hyped me up so much I felt like I had “a shoe in”. I also think about the times I didn’t feel so great about myself and they reminded me that I was beautiful inside and out and that everyone makes mistakes and have bad days. One of the most memorable times my friends were there for me was when when my mom died and I had to graduate the same semester. They gathered around me as I cried for what felt like hours. They sat in silence comforting me, but their love was so loud I had no choice but to reach a place of peace. Ahh, yes. That is friendship and that is my safe place.
“My Safe Place” consists of anonymouse stories of students’ life experiences. It is a place to experss their tribulations in return for healing and encouragement.