College was my first time I was out on my own. I was relatively square in high school. I never went to parties, drank only twice in high school and that was my senior year. One of them was at my sister’s wedding reception. I was way into sports and graduated third in my class (ok, it was a small school) and earned an A average in high school with academic scholarships promised to my college of choice. I am an introvert and never before had put myself out there for all to see. Needless to say, I was ready to run when the time came.
Fortunately, I was awarded a scholarship to play basketball and I was instantly pushed into a group of 10 or so girls that would eventually become my best friends.
I was so lucky that I found these people. Spending almost every day with a bunch of 18-20 year old women was not as bad as some may think. There were hardly any petty disagreements. We supported each other, studied for tests together, worked out together, figured out boys, and of course we had fun together-college style. I was very fortunate that they watched out for me. I was always safe; I knew they cared about me and would do anything to help me if I needed it.
“You meet your best friends in college.”
Now, about 10 years after I left that world, I realize that friends like that are hard to find. Our coach, a very tough and demanding man, said one thing that always stuck in my mind. He made a living out of guiding young women to their next stage of life, and he intuitively knew how to be a good role model. “You meet your best friends in college” was the most true thing he had ever said.
We met for a reunion this past weekend, all of us traveling for hours from four different states. Outside of visiting my parents, I have never felt more welcomed so quickly. Without skipping a beat, we shared stories and caught up on what we had been doing over the last few years. I have never felt so loved by friends before.
Life slipped by, as it always does, and I found myself in my twenties so focused on making my career, getting married, having children, buying a house… the list could go on. I didn’t give the time I needed to keep up with my old friends and to be honest, I didn’t dedicate any time to making new ones. I had a few friendly co-workers, but rarely did we go beyond the walls of the school that I taught at together. With that realization, I changed my attitude and understood that it is important to have these kind of relationships. Women who are around my age, going through the exact same things I am, understanding what is vital to me is priceless.
When discussing how hard it can be to make time for visits, one of my friends said something very real. She said that she would rather have taken the time and spent the money to see someone instead of staying home and saving up all the time just to hear that they had passed and the opportunity to see them again is forever lost.
Even more touching, I finally realized that not only do they matter to me, but I still matter to them. Nothing can compare to the time I spent with my basketball girls. I cherish each and every one of them.