High School Halls: Best Friends Forever (2Good + 2B = 4gotten)

Much better with friends

Another installment in the High School Halls series in which we are taking a look at teenagers then and now on Deep-Fried Friday. Today we’re looking at friendships in high school. Some teens have a lot of friends and some have very few, but our friendships have a deep impact on how we experience high school. At times, having a close friend is like having an anchor when you feel adrift in those teenage years.

That Was Then

I am an introvert, which means that while I had many connections, I typically had one or a few close friends at a time. I was quite content with a single best friend or a small circle of friends. Here’s what I remember about my friendships in high school.

Friendships were formed through school and outside activities. I got most of my friends through band and classes–usually both. For instance, Tammy sat behind me in algebra and played saxophone in band. Diana was in my English class and played clarinet. Cindy was in another English class and played flute.

What drew us together was shared values and interests. My closest friends also wanted to do well in school, had authoritative parents, and enjoyed music. I looked for smart people who would understand how much I enjoyed reading or talking about something deeper than nail polish color. I related to other students whose parents also had curfews and rules and grounded you from time to time. I desired friends who enjoyed music and dancing and sarcastic humor and more sarcastic humor.

Yeah, I suppose I was a bit of a square. But I liked it that way.

My friends and I didn’t cruise from party to party, but rather hung out in small crowds at school events, at each others’ houses, or a local dance hall for teens. We also did stupid stuff–harmless stupid stuff. Like the pranks I discussed on the blog earlier.

All of our interactions were face-to-face or phone-to-phone (as in LANDLINE). Most of us didn’t have phones in our rooms, so we were relegated to whatever sliver of time we were allowed on the family line. Which, no, did not have call waiting. Or caller ID. Or a cordless connection. Typically, the phone was used for planning later excursions or sharing the “Guess who asked me out!” sort of news.

What my friends afforded me were:

  • Sense of belonging. I had people to sit with at lunch and hang out with on band trips and share news with and feel a part of. I belonged somewhere.
  • Care and concern. When things weren’t going well, my friends cared. They wanted what they thought was best for me (even if going out with that guy didn’t turn out all that well in the end). They were rooting for me.
  • Fun, fun, fun. From our toilet papering escapades to seeing movies together to attending school dances or whatever else we did, we laughed a lot. Those moments with friends had my smiling muscles getting a workout.
  • Personal growth. Being in relationships with others pushes you to grow. You have to think about others and not just yourself. I learned a lot in those years about being there for people you love.
  • Better sense of self. Learning who you feel comfortable with helps you know yourself better. I gravitated toward people who liked what I liked, did what I wanted to do, and were like me. But not. In those ways there were not like me, I also learned who I was because I was pushed to become more.

This Is Now

Friendships for teens today also seem to be driven by shared interests–whether that is video games or extracurricular activities or something else. There are many more opportunities now to participate in sports, gymnastics, academic teams, dance,  Lego building, or whatever. Find an interest. Find a group. You can find friends.

from PublicDomainPictures.net

However, the tool of friendships these days tends to be technology. Kids connect through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Minecraft, and other online chat rooms and games.

They rarely talk on a phone (and certainly not a landline). They text. In addition to texting while away from each other, they may even text while together. Back and forth. Across from each other at a table. What is up with that? my generation wonders.

Group activities seem to be more prominent than dating or other one-on-one outings. When I go to my local coffee shop in the evenings to work, there are usually a few high school study groups, with anywhere from 3 to 10 teens at a table.

Yes, these teens interact face-to-face, but it’s mixed in with checking texts from other friends, looking up something on their laptop that was mentioned in conversation, clicking through a tablet for homework information.

Still, the shared interests are there. The laughter is there. The sense of belonging is there.

Looking at who a teen is hanging out with gives me information about the teen herself–which is likely to be fairly accurate. Because we choose friends who support who we want to be or to become.

When I am asked by a teenager for the best advice I could give them, it has always been choose your friends wisely. If your friends couldn’t care less about schoolwork, you eventually won’t care either. If your friends do drugs, you’ll likely do them at some point too. If your friends work for charities on the weekends, you’ll start working with them just to hang out and then you’ll become charitable. And so on.

Who your friends are (or were) can have a lasting impact. I’m grateful that I had such great friends in high school–several of whom I’m still in contact with today.

How about your high school friendships? Did you make any friends for life? Do you have special memories about certain friends? How did/do your friendships affect your experience of high school?

By the way, I chose to cover the topic of friendships today in particular because it is my best friend’s birthday. So happy birthday, Carri! Love ya! Wish we’d known each other back in high school. 😉

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10 thoughts on “High School Halls: Best Friends Forever (2Good + 2B = 4gotten)

  1. I had a lot of friends in high school and some of them I’ve kept in touch with due to Facebook and the internet, e-mailing and such. In that way, I’m happy there’s an internet. But, my daughter is also one of those who texts all day long and my son does not believe in talking on a landline. I know my parents didn’t “get me” when I was a teenager, so I expect now is no different than “then”. I worry about all kids’ ability to interact socially with others since they do so much NOT face-to-face, but my children aren’t mutants, so I expect they’ll be okay later on in life.
    Nice post, Julie – as always.
    Patti

  2. Happy birthday to Carri, your best friend. It amazes me how technology has affected the way teens and even twenty somethings interact. We were happy if we had a landline that had a longer cord than normal so we could move around a bit while talking on the phone. I had a best friend, Marie, and we had a circle of close friends. We seldom see each other but are still on contact. I love it when they join FaceBook because it makes it so much easier to keep up with each other.

    Julie, you’re one of the winners in my giveaway of my children’s book, Curse of the Double Digits. Please email me at lynkelwoohoo at yahoo.com and I’ll send you the info to get your eBook. Congrats!

  3. Your friends sound a lot like mine! Let’s hear it for the geeky crowd. 🙂 And yes, several of us kept in touch. Even with cell phones, texting and computers, my daughter’s circle of friends isn’t much different. I’m just glad she’s into D&D and not getting drunk!

  4. Great post and I too had the same friendships in high school, hanging out with the geeks. The one and only beer party I ever planned on attending, was broken up by the cops before I got there. (Think that was a sign?) It makes me sad too how today’s young people are communicating. We all need the face-to-face warm fuzzies, instead of cold hard electronics. Plus, do you see how they are destroying the English language! That alone makes me crazy.

  5. Hey friend. Love the post and so thankful we are friends now. Thank you for the sweet birthday wish too. Love you! – Carri

  6. I love this post. I wondered when you’d get around to talking about friendships. I think you have a good point when you say that you are who you hang out with.

    I had a lot of acquaintances in high school but few friends. I’ve kept in touch with none of them and would resist any effort on their part to contact me if it came up. I have done the whole the voyeuristic Facebook thing where you look up people you knew in high school. I’ve contacted none of them and won’t.

    The best friend I ever had I met the first day of first grade. We were both skinny and had buck teeth. We stayed friends all through out grade school junior high and high school. We were sister-in-laws for about four years. I watch Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion every time it comes on TV. It reminds me of those years we spent together and what a comfort we were to each other.

    I haven’t seen her for 15 years. Sometimes I wonder if she is still alive. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

  7. We moved a lot when I was a kid, but each place we lived I pretty much had one BFF. Is that an introvert thing? I wonder. 🙂 I didn’t do the party hopping in high school either. I remember the record store being a major stop for us though!

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